Lawmakers On State Fair Alcohol Expansion: We Trust The Fair

Aug 16, 2016

Some opponents worry there will be unchecked growth in alcohol sales at future Indiana State Fairs.

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.