Bill could allow for alcohol at State Fair 

By Monica Harvey

If a bill before the Indiana House of Representatives becomes law, fairgoers may have the option to purchase alcohol in some places at the Indiana State Fair.

"The bill basically just gives enabling legislation to remove the ban for alcohol sales," said Rep. Robert Cherry, R-Greenfield, author of House Bill 1093.

Removing the ban would allow the State Fair to have a greater focus on agriculture, supporters of the bill say.

"It'll be a chance to tell another story about agriculture," said Andy Klotz, spokesman for the state fair.

"The Indiana wineries is a big part of our state now that we've grown that industry and same with the micro breweries. And for them to have that exposure at the state fair, I think it'd be wonderful (to have) showcased Indiana agriculture, because that's the purpose," said Cherry.

Cherry said that removing the ban would not take away from the family friendly atmosphere of the fair. He said families still would be able to enjoy their fair experience because the alcohol would not be sold along side other State Fair treats but, rather, in a controlled area.

"You won't see corndogs and beer being sold. It's definitely a restricted area for 21 years and older," said Cherry.

If HB 1093 became law, the State Fair board and commission would establish rules for the controlled environment.

"We don't have a fullproof plan just yet. We have some ideas that we will fine tune if the legislation is passes," said Klotz.

Alcohol would be available at a couple different locations – one at the north end and one on Main Street. Drinks would be consumed in a restricted environment where fairgoers must show i.d. People who visit the locations would not be able to take the alcohol outside of the beer or wine gardens, said Klotz.

Cherry said that alcohol is consumed at other family friendly places like Disney World, Disney Land and Kings Island. He also noted there does not seem to be a problem with alcohol sales at restaurants such as pizza parlors, where young people often are present.

"During the state fair, there is alcohol there. It's there illegally. People bring it in their coolers. They bring it in the show boxes. In the grandstand, when they sweep it out, there is all kinds of empty (alcohol) containers," said Cherry.

The above is one of an ongoing series of daily reports from the Indiana Statehouse by students at the Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism.

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