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Friday, April 22, 2011

Raise a glass to the fair at the fair

Ohio beer, wine to be sold, but only at certain events

Thursday, April 21, 2011

By Kathy Lynn Gray
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH The Hot IssueShould beer and wine be sold at the Ohio State Fair?For the first time anyone can remember, beer and wine will be sold this year during the Ohio State Fair.
But don't expect to wander the grounds with a draft in hand.
Sales and consumption will be limited to two buildings under a proposal approved unanimously by the Ohio Expositions Commission yesterday.
The alcohol will be sold at the Celeste Center during certain concerts and at Taste of Ohio, the circular mid-fairgrounds structure where Ohio-raised food is servedRaise a glass to the fair at the fairAll the beer and wine will be made in Ohio.
"We're here to celebrate Ohio, and we believe we'll be helping Ohio companies this way," said general manager Virgil Strickler. "We're trying to increase business in Ohio, and our agricultural business is the biggest there is."
Purchasers won't be allowed to carry the beverages out of either building, Strickler said. And it will not be sold during religious-based concerts or children's events.
Alcoholic beverages already are sold during other events at the fairgrounds, including the All American Quarter Horse Congress.
Most state fairs allow sales of alcohol, Strickler said.
The topic has been debated in Ohio at least since 1969, when then-Gov. James Rhodes declared there'd be no alcohol at the fair as long as he was governor.
In 2007, a majority of fair commissioners liked the idea, but Gov. Ted Strickland didn't. At the time, Strickler suggested selling it around the grounds, in a beer-and-wine garden, or at concerts and the Ohio foods pavilion.
This time, Strickler said, Gov. John Kasich's administration has approved the idea. Kasich's press secretary confirmed that yesterday.
Cox Concessions, which has the concessions contract for the fair, will sell the beer and wine. Breweries and wine companies interested in selling at the fair should contact Cox, Strickler said.
Dave Corey, chairman of the state-fairgrounds commission, has advocated adding beer and wine sales for several years.
"Timing is everything, and now is the time to do it," he said.
The sales will give Ohio beer-and-wine manufacturers the chance to showcase their products, he said.
Jim Tucker, president and CEO of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions in Springfield, Mo., said whether a fair sells alcohol depends on its location.
"Fairs reflect the community, and in certain parts of the country you will find it less likely," Tucker said.
The main purpose of the Ohio State Fair, he said, is to showcase agriculture, and both beer and wine are agricultural products.

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