There won’t be cheap-booze booths scattered throughout the Midway during the fair’s run from Aug. 1 to 17. Instead, Indiana breweries and wineries have been invited to feature their products at an inaugural Beer and Wine Exhibition in the fairground’s Grand Hall.
The exhibition will only be open to visitors who are at least 21 and will feature tasting tables where beer and wine will be sold the glass, with consumption limited to inside the Hall.
Beer- and wine-makers will staff the exhibit to educate patrons about their homegrown products. The exhibit will include educational displays on spirit making, pulled from the archives of the Indiana State Museum.
State Fair director Cindy Hoye, who supported lifting the alcohol ban, calls it “an opportunity for the Indiana State Fair to showcase two very important Indiana agricultural industries.”
She’s serious about that. The fairgrounds don’t close until 11 p.m. weekdays and after midnight on weekends, but the Wine and Beer Exhibit will shut down at 9 pm. every night.
Dana Huber, whose family-owned Huber’s Orchard, Winery and Vineyards in Starlight has been making wine since 1843, thinks the return of alcohol to the fair will go swimmingly well.
“I equate it to the colleges that come out for ‘career day’ at the fair,” said Huber, a member of the State Fair Commission, which endorsed the repeal of the alcohol ban. “It’s a chance for us to represent the best of Indiana wine and beer.”
Columns by Maureen Hayden, Statehouse bureau chief for CNHI’s Indiana newspapers, appear Mondays in The Herald Bulletin. She can be reached at Maureen.firstname.lastname@example.org.