The executive director of the Indiana State Fair Commission says “tremendous” changes will have a major impact on the event and year-round. The Coliseum and new Youth Arena are open after shutting down in 2012 for a $63 million renovation. Cindy Hoye says the 75-year-old Coliseum used to account for 20 percent of the fairgrounds' total earned revenue and expects it to draw even more going forward. Beer and wine will also be served at the fair for the first time since the 1940s. The 17-day Indiana State Fair begins today. Hoye is calling 2014 “a year of learning.” She says officials need to feel out the interest level of new setups, including major indoor concerts at the Coliseum and many “A-level” acts at the Free Stage.

Prior to the 2011 State Fair stage collapse, bigger shows were held at the granstands. They were moved to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis and will now take place at the renovated venue.

Hoye says the weather and the start of the school year continue to be the biggest challenges for attracting crowds. The fair will once again be held over three weekends to combat academic years that are increasingly starting earlier and earlier. She also says Band Day has been moved from Friday to Saturday to allow schools to travel without missing class. A new state law will also allow student exhibitors to get several excused days off from school to participate in the fair.

The Indiana State Fair will run through August 17.

Source: Inside INdiana Business

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