Lawmakers look at new State Fair taste treat you can't deep fry
At the next State Fair, lemon shakeups may have some competition from something on tap. That's if Indiana lawmakers lift a six-decade-long ban on alcohol sales during the State Fair.
Only Indiana and North Carolina now prohibit those sales. That ban leaves some, including brewers, flat.
"Being able to showcase all our products we make in Indiana along with other agricultural products and the great things that come from Indiana would be a great boon for us," said Sun King Brewing's Clay Robinson.
Sun King employs 47 people full-time. Robinson says he could tap into more growth with exposure at the Fair. Same for wineries and distillers.
"(That) money gets turned back into jobs in our community, the sales tax stays in the community, the income tax stays in our community. Everything about local beer helps bolster the local economy," Robinson said.
But others are concerned.
"I wish we could protect those opportunities to have family-friendly events and not always have to have alcohol there," said Nancy Beals with Drug Free Marion County.
The organization worries about the message sent to young people and fears dangerous conduct on the fairgrounds and off.
"Having people driving away intoxicated. Frequently, they have kids in the backseat," Beals said.
She also thinks alcohol vendors won't just be the homegrown kind. She expects the national bottlers will show up, too.
"They'll be selling beer like corn dogs," Beals said.
"We have no intention of selling beer or wine like corn dogs," said State Fair spokesperson Andy Klotz.
The fair wants a safe environment.
"What we envision," Klotz said, "would be a couple controlled environments for those over 21. Staffed by well-trained people and authorities."
Klotz says alcohol sales would attract more people to the fair. Visitors mention it every year.
The bill is in its early stages, so it's too early to ask what beer or wine or spirits go best with a fried Twinkie.
The Fairgrounds actually has a liquor license and alcohol is offered at many events, but not the State Fair.
Alcohol has been banned at the State Fair since 1947 when Klotz says some people trashed the grounds with glass bottles after the beer concessions ran out of paper cups.