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Proposal calls for alcohol sales during Indiana State Fair

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Those craving a cold beer to wash down their fried butter at the Indiana State Fair may soon have their wish granted.

Senate Bill 168, authored by Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, would allow the sale of alcoholic beverages during the State Fair.

The Indiana State Fair is only one of two state fairs that prohibit the sale of alcohol.

“Because of the current statute in place, during the state fair no alcohol can be sold," Leising said. "We have microbreweries and wineries that really would like to not only be able to display their products, but to sell their products. That’s what I’m trying to make happen. It will be interesting to see if I can get support. It’s one of those common-sense bills, I think.”

According to Andy Klotz, media relations director for the Indiana State Fair Commission, the event has prohibited sales of beer, wine and spirits since 1947.

But the law was put into place for an unexpected reason.

Alcohol was prohibited after the state fair of 1947 because of a littering problem. Administrators decided to do away with alcohol sales entirely after too many beer drinkers failed to put their empty bottles in trash cans.

Klotz, who is in favor of the bill, said he hopes the beverages will be available for fairgoers to purchase sooner rather than later.

“This is something that has been an issue for a while and we are happy that the legislature is taking a look at it,” Klotz said.

He said the hope is that revenue would increase.

“That is part of the reason we are encouraged that the legislature is looking at this. We need to find ways to keep costs down but maintain the facilities we have in place,” Klotz said. “That takes a big effort.”

Alcohol is served at the state fairgrounds at many other events throughout the year. The Indiana State Fair is one of the few exceptions.

Klotz said he believes the transition to allowing alcohol at the state fair would be an easy one.

“The State Fair Commission already has a liquor license and does hundreds of events each year without any issues. It’s not a foreign process,” he said.

Alcohol would be sold in designated areas, and only fairgoers 21 and older would be allowed in those areas.

While supporters believe the change will be positive, critics – including Drug Free Marion County – said the possible sale of alcohol is an issue.

The group says the beverages may cause problems and threaten the “family-friendly environment” the state fair promotes.

“We feel that it brings along too many problems,” said Nancy Beals, prevention project coordinator for Drug Free Marion County. “Looking at other state fairs who offer alcohol, you see news reports with people urinating in parking lots and DUIs often involving those transporting children. It’s nice to have a family-friendly event where alcohol doesn’t have to be involved.”

Beals also said while alcohol sales would add revenue, the profit would be offset by the increase in public-safety costs to control the environment.

 

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  • No Booze
    I have been to state fairs where alcohol has been served and there has been a lot of problems with drunks. The fair boards have had to set up "family" days where no drinking has been allowed. I would rather we have no drinking during the whole fair. Those fairs who have had alcohol served have increased their security and EMS services costs. This is a no-brainer guys. Do you want your children among drunks (increase potential for violence). I don't! It will keep a lot of us away from the fair.
  • what the fair is really for
    Maybe the insults to certain stereotypes of fair goers are just for the sake of having fun insulting people, but the State Fair is really about celebrating agriculture and its importance to Indiana and the Midwest, not about "chomping" fried foods. Alcohol or no alcohol, there is a lot to be learned and celebrated at the State Fair, if one looks and learns. Personally, I don't think alcohol is necessary or wanted there, but the insulting attitudes are worse.
  • AMEN, MS
    Exactly. I'd much rather be around beer drinkers than watch toothless, overweight Hoosier redneckss graze on food they shouldn't even look at.
    • Beer at the fair
      It's all about the money, so go for it. Honestly, the fat gross hoosiers at the fair have and always will be the thing that makes the fair a nasty place that I wouldn't be caught dead attending. A few drunks will go unnoticed next to several thousand hicks chomping on fried food.
    • understatement
      SLOW TO CHANGE? INDIANA? OH NO!!!
    • Every thing is about money!
      We have many issues that are important in Indiana, without wasting time on vendors trying to persuade our great government that they need to make money over a truly family event!!
    • Next Up High School...
      How about selling BEER on Friday and Saturday nights at High School Football and Basketball games.
    • Designated Areas
      1). I have attended the Boat, Sport and Travel Show since I was a child and still go every year. Same with the Home Show and the Flower and Patio Show. I have never seen anyone there who appeared to me to be visibly drunk. These types of events are not big attractions to drunks -- it costs money to get in and the beers are expensive. 2). For those who commented about having to steer their kids through a crowd of drunks, see comment 1). above, then read the article again. Beer would be sold in designated areas where minors aren't permitted. This suggests that alcohol cannot be removed from those areas. 3). At the Fair and the other events mentioned above, people are moving around, not sitting there pounding beers like some fans at Colts games, which is a lousy comparison for other reasons as well. 4. People should ask themselves why it is that they only want the government to regulate away the things they don't like.
    • Probable Solution
      Given the comments made in response to the article (mostly against) as compared to those made within the article (mostly for), and given our Republican - controlled legislature's approach to such issues, it would appear we may be headed for another proposed constitutional amendment with clarifying legislation. Can't wait.
    • Why not?
      They already have beer and wine judgings as part of the State Fair. Is seems unfair to not be able to consume on-site what's already being promoted by the fair.
    • Why is this even being discussed?
      The legislature is in session and this is what they are working on? How about actually being productive on things that matter to the state, oh I don't know, Mass transit maybe, or help create jobs, what about all the panhandling (guarantee that's not just only in Indianapolis)? Instead creating bills or proposals on something like this, why don't you invest your time wisely!
    • State fair brewskies
      Too bad the state fair doesn't survey those who go -- I am betting the comments would be negative overall. Tough enough to get through downtown streets with sloppy drunk Colts fans on game days. Worse to see tipsy adults with toddlers walking the fairgrounds.
    • not needed
      I too like to drink beer, and in general, I think Indiana is usually too resistant and slow to change, but I think it's kinda nice to have an event like this that doesn't serve alcohol.
      • Oh No
        Se we hake our families to the fair to be accosted by a bunch of drunks. I will stay home thank you
      • Cost?
        I'm sure the vendors would be able to make a killing on this. There's nothing like a cold beer when it's 90+ degrees. I wonder how much it'll cost if a soda is $10, a beer would probably be near $20.
      • Meh
        I'm all about drinking at events but this is the one place I hope they don't allow alcohol. It's already overcrowded with sloppy people blocking the streets and sidewalks. I don't need fried Twinkie vomit puddles added to the list of obstacles I need to avoid.
      • Weird
        I'm 38 years old and have been going to the State Fair my entire life and have never even notice that you couldn't buy alcohol--maybe it's not that big of a deal after all and a teetotaler I am not.

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      1. The free market will seek its own level. If Employers cannot hire a retain good employees in Marion Co they will leave and set up shop in adjacent county. Marion Co already suffers from businesses leaving I would think this would encourage more of the same.

      2. We gotta stop this Senior crime. Perhaps long jail terms for these old boozers is in order. There are times these days (more rather than less) when this state makes me sick.

      3. One option is to redistribute the payroll tax already collected by the State. A greater share could be allocated to the county of the workplace location as opposed to the county of residency. Not a new tax, just re-allocate what is currently collected.

      4. Have to agree with Mal Burgess. The biggest problem is massive family breakdown in these neighborhoods. While there are a lot of similiarities, there is a MASSIVE difference between 46218 and 46219. 46219 is diluted by some stable areas, and that's probably where the officers live. Incentivizing is fine, but don't criticize officers for choosing not to live in these neighbor hoods. They have to have a break from what is arguably one of the highest stress job in the land. And you'll have to give me hard evidence that putting officers there is going to make a significant difference. Solid family units, responsible fathers, siblings with the same fathers, engaged parents, commitment to education, respect for the rule of law and the importance of work/a job. If the families and the schools (and society) will support these, THEN we can make a difference.

      5. @Agreed, when you dine in Marion County, the taxes paid on that meal go to state coffers (in the form of the normal sales taxes) and to the sports/entertainment venues operated by the CIB. The sales taxes on your clothing and supplies just go to the state. The ONLY way those purchases help out Indianapolis is through the payroll taxes paid by the (generally low-wage) hourly workers serving you.

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