About 10,000 people have already visited the beer and wine garden at the Indiana State Fair, which banned alcohol 67 years ago because of problems with littering.
The state legislature recently passed a law once again allowing alcohol sales, so this year, the state fair created a designated 21 and over alcohol area where some of the more than 150 local craft breweries and wineries in Indiana can sell their products.
“People are surprised that, first, there are 80 wines in Indiana and then that there are vineyards, that we are growing grapes here in Indiana,” says Mallow Run Winery Marketing Director Sarah Shaddy.
She says the state fair provides her with an opportunity to explain to customers why they don’t grow the typical cabernet or merlot grapes in the state, instead opting for grapes such as chambourcin and traminette that grow better in Indiana’s climate.
“So people are learning a lot about the agriculture as well as the winemaking,” Shaddy says.
The customers also seem to be enjoying it.
“I think it’s a fantastic thing. I’m glad they brought it back. I was originally sad that I couldn’t bring my family, but it’s kind of nice not having kids crawling all over us,” says Jeremiah White as he holds a plastic cup of Railsplitter, an India Pale Ale from Triton Brewering Company in Indianapolis.
Indiana State Fair officials say they hope the beer and wine garden allows Hoosiers to learn more about the alcoholic beverages that are produced locally, and that, in turn, will give an added boost to the already growing industry.
As mentioned, alcohol was first banned because of littering. Beer was served in glass bottles and when the fair was over, there were glass shards littering the area.
So far this year it’s pretty clean. Customers are only allowed 3 drinks and, as you saw in the video, everything is being served in plastic cups.