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Lawmakers On State Fair Alcohol Expansion: We Trust The Fair


The Indiana State Fair sold alcohol for the first time since the 1940s in 2014 – but only at a beer and wine exhibition closed to anyone under 21. And patrons couldn’t carry alcohol out.

The second year, the Fair added sales at concerts in the Coliseum.

This year, alcohol is sold at Free Stage concerts. Representative Ed Clere (R-New Albany) co-sponsored the 2014 bill and says he trusts Fair officials to balance higher revenue with the right atmosphere.

“The balance is making sure that it stays family-friendly," Clere says.

But, when the legislation first passed, some worried it would change the tone of the Fair. Because the law doesn’t restrict where alcohol is sold, would the Fair sell it next to the lemon shakeups on the main street?

Senator Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) is the bill’s author and serves on the State Fair Commission.

“I can’t imagine that we’re going to be doing that,” he says.

Merritt says he envisions alcohol sales remaining confined to the entertainment venues and the ongoing beer and wine exhibition.

There’s just nothing in the law keeping it there.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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