Bill would lift ban on booze at Indiana State Fair

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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