INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana State Fair has some fresh changes in store for Hoosiers this year, including a renovated Coliseum hosting headline concerts and alcohol for sale for the first time since 1946.
The addition of the Indiana Beer and Wine Exhibition is getting the most attention. Lawmakers this year removed the ban on alcohol.
State Fair spokesman Andy Klotz said the exhibition will be open in the Grand Hall every day from 1 to 9 p.m., with last call at 8 p.m.
Four brewers and four wineries will be on hand every day.
It is free to go into the hall but costs $5 each for up to a maximum of three glasses of wine or beer. There will also be tasting tables for samples. No one under 21 will be allowed in the hall.
Alcohol also cannot be removed from that area.
Klotz said the fair, which begins Friday, also will be celebrating the Year of the Coliseum after an 18-month, $63 million renovation. Headline concerts are moving into the new arena after a two-year absence from the fair.
In 2013, there were no major concerts, and in 2012 the headline concerts were held downtown. This followed the 2011 stage collapse that killed seven people.
Klotz said the old grandstand held 15,000 people for major concerts compared with 6,000 at the Coliseum.
“We know that people come for the concerts for sure, but overall, when you look at the 17 days, concerts are a small percentage of attendance,” Klotz said.
Some headliners include Lynyrd Skynryd, Pitbull, Hunter Hayes and Jim Gaffigan.
Also, there are shows on the free stage every day of the fair, including stars of hit show “Nashville,” “The Voice” winner Josh Kaufman and Barenaked Ladies.
The food is always a key part of the fair and this year is no different.
The winner of the Signature Food Competition was the Fruit Twister Shake-up made from fresh lemons, oranges, pineapple and strawberries shaken to perfection with sugar or Splenda, ice and water.
Other signature fair foods include cheeseburger basket on a stick; the mac daddy; funnel cake ice cream sandwich; and colossal grilled cheese sandwich with a salted chocolate caramel shake.
Klotz said other entertainment includes the Flippenout Extreme Trampoline Show, where performers can bounce as high as 25 feet as they flip and twist – sometimes with skis and snowboards strapped to their feet.
And he encouraged all fairgoers to download the Indiana State Fair's new, free app that includes GPS.