The Herald Bulletin

January 25, 2014

Editorial: State Fair good opportunity to showcase beer, wine industry

The Herald Bulletin

---- — You can get just about anything at the Indiana State Fair — breaded tenderloins, giant onion rings, funnel cakes and even deep-fried Snickers bars.

But for the last 67 years, you haven’t been able to wash it down with a frosty beer, cold margarita or glass of wine.

A bill pending before the Senate Public Policy Committee aims to change all that. A proposal from Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, would allow the sale of alcoholic beverages during the annual August event, repealing the ban instated in 1947 after fair visitors trashed the grounds with glass bottles.

The thought of fending off Indiana’s summer heat with a cold beer in hand while perusing the fair’s many exhibits and attending its concerts seems heavenly to us. After all, the fairgrounds already has a liquor license and allows alcohol to be sold there during other events. There’s no reason to single out the State Fair as an alcohol-free zone.

It’s also a fantastic opportunity to showcase an emerging sector of Indiana’s agricultural economy — the rapidly growing beer and wine industry. The state has about 60 local breweries, with more to come, and more than 80 wineries and vineyards. How better to expose fair attendees — a record 978,000 last year — to one of the most surprising aspects of our state than by enticing them with samples and sales at the 17-day fair.

Officials do say there would be only a few designated areas where alcohol would be sold. No doubt plans would need to be devised to handle inebriated visitors — such as designated driver programs and taxi services. And every effort should be made to maintain the fair’s family atmosphere.

But it’s time to make “throwing back a cold one” mean more than just a lemon shake-up.

In summary It's time to make "throwing back a cold one" mean more than just a lemon shake-up at the State Fair.