LIMA — The Allen County Fair Board of Directors voted down this week adding beer to the fair.
“It was voted down, after a lot of discussion,” board President Dan Kimmet said. “It comes up periodically.”
The vote was 10-7, against, with one member absent.
Kimmet was hearing the question more than he ever had, he said.
“I don’t know if it was the Toby Keith concert that did it, or what, but we brought it to the board and let them talk about it,” Kimmet said.
Opponents to allowing it during the fair, held this year from Aug. 15 to 23, believed it would be detrimental to the 4-H and Junior Fair environment at the fairgrounds, Kimmet said. Others believed allowing beer was not a decision that should be made only by the fair board, that the issue should be put to a vote of the entire Allen County Agricultural Society membership.
“It’s a fine line. I’m not personally opposed to it, but I respect other people’s opinions,” Kimmet said. “I am open to trying it, and seeing how it works, but I also don’t want to do anything that pushes people from the fair. Some directors felt this was not the right way to do it.”
Anheuser-Busch approached the fair about the possibility this year. The beer would have come with sponsorship and donation money from Anheuser-Busch, on top of beer garden sales, Kimmet said. He believes the fair could have received a visit from the Budweiser Clydesdales as well.
The board also discussed selling alcohol within the grandstands only during the Toby Keith concert Aug. 23, but ultimately declined to that as well, Kimmet said.
The conversation for future years is not yet done, Kimmet believes.
The Agricultural Society holds its annual meeting in November, and Kimmet said the topics of beer sales for the fair or specific events at the fair will most likely come back up.
Beer is sold on the fairgrounds for other events but has not been sold during the fair. Fair board directors most recently sold beer during the 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals to benefit the Allen County Fair Foundation. Beer will also be sold at the Ohio National Championship motorcycle races and the Potash PBR Professional Bull Riding event, among other events at the fairgrounds.
Eighteen fairgrounds in Ohio, including Auglaize and Putnam counties, sell beer during their fairs.
In 2011, the Ohio State Fair began selling Ohio-made craft beer and wine during the fair at select locations and in the Celeste Center during concerts.