The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Columns

June 22, 2014

Maureen Hayden: Homegrown spirits return to State Fair

INDIANAPOLIS — Mark Webb is counting on patrons of the Indiana State Fair to be better behaved this summer than they were in 1946, when a celebratory post-war crowd almost trashed the place.

The bad behavior of beer drinkers 68 years ago is what led the General Assembly to ban alcohol sales during the fair, with legislation signed into law by Gov. Ralph Gates in 1947.

Beer vendors apparently underestimated demand as the fair returned after a hiatus for World War II. They ran out of cups and had to sell beer by the bottle. The fairgrounds were soon covered with empty and broken bottles, imperiling fair-goers and livestock.

It must have been a bad scene. The 1947 legislation banning alcohol was numbered Senate Bill 1 — an indicator that it was top priority for legislators.

The General Assembly rolled back that law earlier this year, after craft brewers and artisan wine-makers convinced lawmakers that the punishment didn’t fit the crime.

“It was like swatting a fly with a sledgehammer,” said Webb, lobbyist for the Brewers Guild of Indiana.

The repeal of the 1947 law means Indiana is no longer just one of two states – North Carolina being the other — that ban alcohol at the state fair.

How did beer- and wine-makers convince Indiana legislators — who’ve barely budged on bans of retail sales of alcohol on Sundays and cold beer in grocery stores — to repeal the old state fair blue law?

By convincing them that Indiana’s vineyards and microbreweries could claim the same bragging rights as other agricultural interests without opening the door to alcohol abuse.

Legislators and fair officials were careful to craft language that limits alcohol sales and boosts the Indiana products as an agri-tourism attraction.

“Indiana is creating a lot of high-quality wine, beer and spirits, and using a lot of Indiana agricultural products in the process,” said Rep. Ed Clere, a New Albany Republican who’s nudged fellow lawmakers to recognize the value of Indiana’s artisan alcohol-makers.

Text Only
Columns
Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

Do you think school is starting too early?

Yes, it shouldn't start until after Labor Day.
Yes, it shouldn't start for another week or so.
No, it's about right.
Not sure.
     View Results