Alcohol Returns to Indiana State Fair

It's an historic year at the Indiana State Fair. For the first time since 1946, alcohol is on tap.
It's an historic year at the Indiana State Fair. For the first time since 1946, alcohol is on tap.

In the Grand Hall at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, people file in to sip and sample Hoosier wines and craft beer, the first time in nearly 70 years alcohol has been allowed at the fair.

"This is a very important part of our ag industry in Indiana," said Fair Publicity and Media Relations Director Andy Klotz. "So, it's been the wine grape council and vintners and breweries that have been trying for something like this because they have been shut out of the biggest showcase of agriculture we have in the state."

Earlier this year, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation clearing the way for alcohol to be served at the state fair. But some 4H parents like Carol Schmidt disagree with the decision, saying it could tarnish the family-friendly atmosphere of the fair.

"There are a lot of places where you can showcase beer and wine," said Schmidt. "There are a lot of venues for that all across indiana. This is really the only place we can showcase 4H."

Indiana State Fair Publicity and Media Relations Director Andy Klotz says safety is a top priority. 

"It's strictly carded and strictly enforced," said Klotz, "and you're not exiting the building with your beer or wine. It all stays confined to that area."

Washington resident Amy Graber is happy thrilled to see southern Indiana wineries and breweries get the chance to show the rest of the state what they have to offer.

"If you don't want to drink," said Graber, "you don't have to. It's added income to the state because there will be people who are purchasing beer and wine."

For Tin Man's Fred Hillenbrand, he couldn't ask for a better chance to show off the Evansville brew to a statewide audience.

"We're have a great time," said Hillenbrand, "and people are coming in. "We're educating them about beer, craft beer, a bit of wine too so it's a good day."

He is already looking to next year and hopes the expo to become an annual event.
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