Mark Webb is counting on patrons of the Indiana State Fair to be better behaved this summer than they were in 1946, when a celebratory post-war crowd almost trashed the place.
The bad behavior of beer drinkers 68 years ago is what led the General Assembly to ban alcohol sales during the fair, with legislation signed into law by Gov. Ralph Gates in 1947.
Beer vendors apparently underestimated demand as the fair returned after a hiatus for World War II. They ran out of cups and had to sell beer by the bottle. The fairgrounds were soon covered with empty and broken bottles, imperiling fair-goers and livestock.
It must have been a bad scene. The 1947 legislation banning alcohol was numbered Senate Bill 1 -- an indicator that it was top priority for legislators.
The General Assembly rolled back that law earlier this year after craft brewers and artisan winemakers convinced lawmakers the punishment didn't fit the crime.
"It was like swatting a fly with a sledgehammer," said Webb, lobbyist for the Brewers Guild of Indiana.
See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.