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Pence signs bill allowing state fair alcohol sales

March 16, 2014

Gov. Mike Pence has signed into law a bill ending a 67-year ban on selling alcoholic beverages at the Indiana State Fair, positioning Indiana to join 48 other states that allow the practice.

The bill was signed Friday, according to the governor's office.

The new law takes effect July 1 and would permit alcohol sales at this year's Aug. 1-17 fair if the Indiana State Fair Commission chooses to do so.

The ban went into effect in 1947 after the fairgrounds were littered with beer bottles during the annual exposition. Opponents of ending the ban have expressed fears that alcohol sales will hurt the fair's family-friendly atmosphere.

Pence is "confident that the Indiana State Fair will manage the sale of alcoholic beverages in a manner that will showcase Indiana producers and respect the family oriented traditions of the best state fair in America," spokeswoman Christy Denault told The Indianapolis Star.

State fair spokesman Andy Klotz has said the alcohol sales would allow the fair to promote Indiana's growing wine and craft beer industries. Fairgoers over the years have asked why they can't buy beer at the Indiana fair, especially when they can at other state fairs, family amusement parks and professional sporting events, he said.

The new law does not appear to limit the fair's alcohol sales to Indiana products. It states alcohol at the fair can be sold only by the glass.

Before Pence signed the law, Indiana and North Carolina were the only states not allowing alcohol sales for on-site consumption at their state fairs.

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