Senate bill seeks to repeal alcohol ban at Indiana State Fair

Alcohol banned in 1947 because of litter problem

INDIANAPOLIS - Although it’s been considered a family event for decades, there is legislation pending that would allow beer, wine and spirits to be sold at the Indiana State Fair.

The fair has been a dry event for six decades, but Senate Bill 168 is seeking to repeal the law – allowing beer, wine and liquor to flow again.

"They used to sell beer at the fair for a long time. And then this law that went into place in 1947 and it was as a result of a littering problem," fair spokesman Andy Klotz said.

Klotz said the Indiana State Fair is one of only two major state fairs in the country that don't allow alcohol sales.

"We just think it makes sense. And quite frankly, this is a very blossoming part of the ag segment in Indiana," Klotz said.

Flat12 Bierwerks is one of 60 local breweries statewide. There are also now more than 80 wineries and vineyards in Indiana. 

Beer crafters and winemakers believe their local products should be highlighted at the state fair too -- just like the soybean, corn, cattle or pork industries.

"It's obviously extremely important for us as a local craft brewer, just from the standpoint of you're getting to try something that's not being shipped in from the West Coast, East Coast, whatever; something made in the local community here. I think it fits in well with the agricultural part of the state here," brewery owner Rob Caputo said.

Fair officials said there would be only a couple of designated areas where spirits would be sold while educating fairgoers about how important the beer and wine industries are to Indiana's agricultural economy. 

"Our family-friendly reputation is paramount and we would not do anything to alter that," Klotz said.

If the legislation passes, fair officials said they will be ready to serve alcohol as soon as this summer. Officials said the fair already has its liquor license and already serves alcohol at nearly every other event at the fairgrounds.

Officials said alcohol sales would bring at least $200,000 in net revenue to the fair each summer. That money could be used to upkeep buildings and keep ticket prices low.

Senate Bill 168 is only in committee right now.

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