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Bill would lift ban on booze at Indiana State Fair

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Visitors to the Indiana State Fair will be able to drink a cold beer or sip Indiana wine as they chow down on fried food if one lawmaker gets his way.

Rep. Robert Cherry, R-Greenfield, has filed a bill to lift a longtime ban on alcohol at the annual fair. He told The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne that alcohol sales could provide needed revenue to the State Fair and allow the event to showcase Indiana wine and beer.

State Fair spokesman Andy Klotz said the State Fair Board and Commission has signed off on the idea, though members are still working on details of a plan to implement alcohol sales. Klotz said there would likely be a few designated areas where only those 21 and older could enter and buy beer and wine. They wouldn't be able to take the alcoholic drinks outside of the designated spots, he told the newspaper.

"We are very cognizant of all the kids and the great 4-H participation," he said.

The ban on alcohol at the Indiana State Fair has been around for decades. Klotz said other major state fairs allow alcohol sales and noted that alcohol is served at other events held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

"We are pretty much the lone wolves," Klotz said. "We feel we can pull this off and not have it be any kind of detriment."

House Public Policy Committee Chairman Bill Davis, R-Portland, said he'll do some research before deciding whether to let the bill get a hearing in his committee and move forward.

"The State Fair is such a family-oriented event that it gives me pause," he said.

Cherry acknowledged that there is a concern about having alcohol around children and families. But he said young people attend Indianapolis Colts games and other events where alcohol is served.

More than 950,000 visitors attended last year's state fair.

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  • Local brews and wines only
    this would be a great idea if it is limited to Indiana wines and beers. No national chain should be allowed even if a Bud plant opens within the state. It should be in the context of getting to know and explore Indiana production. There should be no carry out of wine or beer - that is, a winery should not be able to sell bottles of wine at the fair for people to take with them and carry around the fairgrounds. Perhaps only orders for deliveries only.
  • love the idea
    now i have a reason to take my nagging wife and loudmouth brats of kids to go look at cows and people we try to avoid the rest of the year. on the plus side, this measure should increase the number of fair train riders as well as the constitutionally upheld ability to set up sobriety checkpoints. i always wanted to drink a $7 beer with a $2 corndog.
  • Midway
    The Midway is going to be a challenge, especially later at night. And the concerts will have an added dimension. Yeah, this is going to be great.
  • Great Idea
    This change is long overdue. As to those who think it creates a bad environment for families, I offer this. My dad took me to the Boat Sport and Travel Show at the Fairgrounds every year from the time I was about 10 (mid-1960s) until he got so old that I took him. Every yesr, he would have a beer or two. He was a lawyer and a sober, serious man. I took my son every year since he was about 10 and did the same thing. My son is in his mid 20s and a commercial pilot, level headed and a straight arrow, and he will have a couple of beers if he so chooses. He may do the same thing if and when he has kids. Through three generations, we have had a strong, close family. Having a beer was/is something we enjoy doing together. This does not make us "rednecks" or "scum" as suggested in another comment.

    To insist that the service of cold beer (or wine) is anti-family, per se, is a neo-prohibitionist notion. Further, the plan to segregate it into over 21 areas and not allow it to be carried outside of those areas provides a firewall that you won't find at a Colts/Pacers/Indians/Ice/Fever game, or even the good old Boat Show.
  • with limits.....
    this is a good idea, especially offering local products and designated areas is a must, but their must also be limits for each person or else a few carried away people could ruin the whole thing!
  • I can see it now...
    Deep fried Jägermeister.
  • Money talks
    Good idea in theory to only server local products until Bud offers big bucks to put their name on a pavilion or the grandstand.
  • Are you kidding?
    Why would we want to take one of the few pure family attractions left in Indiana and allow alcohol to be consumed? If you need a drink that bad go somewhere that doesn't allow our kids to be around it. Call me whatever you want but this goes against everything that the State Fair stands for and means to most Hoosiers. Our children are exposed to it enough in the world. I was raised without it, my children were raised without it and wow, none of us are alcoholics or need a drink to make it through the day. Amazing how that works.
  • But Never on a Sunday?
    While standing alone this is a good idea, I would prefer to see the ban on Sunday sales go by the wayside first. Holding that up is simply lobbyists for the distributors and liquor stores. Even South Carolina (where we have a vacation home), one of the previously strict alcohol states, now allows sales of beer and wine on Sundays and they have always allowed beer to be sold cold in grocery stores and C Stores. HELLO Indiana!
  • family atmosphere
    So why would alcohol, served only in and not allowed outside of designated areas somehow degrade a family atmosphere?
  • Only Local please
    I like the idea of this but only if it is held to local wineries and brewers, I would not like to see Bud or Coors sold at the INDIANA STATE FAIR, I think selling National brands would be a bad move. In my opinion it would not be the family atmosphere the fair is intended to be and would only cause a security nightmare.
    • Finally a little common sense
      This should absolutely happen. And to continue with what Shane said above it should come with a stipulation that it's to promote Indiana based brewers and wineries and only serve local products.
    • Great Idea
      This is a great idea.....it could also help boost sales for local beer producers. A lot of people out side of Indianapolis are probably not aware of our rapidly growing beer community.

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