It’s that time of year – August means the Indiana State Fair is going on at the fairgrounds and I’m excited about it for a number of reasons:
1. The State Fair Train runs by my office (literally feet away from the building) several times a day, reminding me about all of the fun that people are about to or have had that day.
2. I live much closer to the fair now (also close to my work) and so John and I plan on riding our bikes down the Monon Trail to reduce the cost of parking and work off all those state fair calories.
3. The state fair calories – they are delicious and you just have to accept that you’re going to eat food that is delicious and only available at this time of year. AND it’s the Year of Popcorn, one of my FAVORITE foods, so I was super excited to see what popcorn would be available and how it would be integrated into the fair.
No, that’s not me up there. Are ya kidding? I don’t have the stomach for that stuff! But I love taking pictures of other people having fun!
John and I spent the first Monday of the fair together with fellow Indiana Family of Farmers bloggers. We had a ton of fun and I’m excited to share my tips with you so that you can have the best fair experience yet. I think that a lot of people don’t know how to experience the fair if they don’t have children, so here’s a recap of how I spent a Monday from 9am-230pm at the fair.
We started the day at the Dairy Barn for breakfast. Grilled cheese sandwiches and chocolate milk – the perfect way to start the day. Did you know that it’s been a staple at the Indiana State Fair since 1940? That’s a lot of milk. I’d have my own picture of grilled cheese to share, but I ate it before I remembered to snap a photo of it. It was that good, what can I say?
After fueling up for breakfast, we went to the DuPont Food Pavilion, located near the Midway arch. Inside you’ll find an opportunity to view farmers and chefs on the Red Gold Tomatoes stage, win cool prizes and coupons from Red Gold Tomatoes, shop at the retail store with products made in Indiana, and see a giant cheese sculpture made right in front of your eyes. I won a really cool ketchup air freshener (it does not smell like ketchup, just minty air freshener stuff) and purchased some delicious cheesy popcorn from the retail store. Indy’s own Just Pop In! had several varieties of their great popcorn available for purchase, including their signature Indy Style, a mix of cheddar and caramel corn.
Inside the Ball State/Agriculture & Horticulture building we found the awards for Indiana fruits and vegetables. Corn, apples, squash and many other Indiana grown produce were judged and given ribbons. Some of the giant squash were as big as the ones that John’s dad gave us from his farm!
A large booth was set up with information about beekeeping and Indiana honey. So much honey – who knew Indiana had all of this to offer? I think education about bees is so important, and it was great to see this as a feature at the Indiana State Fair.
Gleaner’s Food Bank hosted a contest called CANstruction, where teams from around the state created sculptures out of their food donations. These two of Homer Simpsons and Despicable Me were so cool!
You’ll also find the world’s largest popcorn ball here, complete with a pretty blue ribbon tied around it’s waist. It took 48 hours and 71 builders to make this thing possible. It’s real popcorn, too, and was cooked at 290 degrees until done.
New to the fair this year is the Glass Barn, presented by Indiana Soybean Farmers. This is where technology meets the fair – at 11am, 2pm or 4pm you can visit the barn and join in on a chat with a farmer. A huge television screen is set up with an area for kids and adults to listen to a Skype-like chat with three different farmers. We had a first hand look into Hill Farms with Heather Hill. She was in a barn with several pigs and talked about their pork production. It was really cool to watch the kids see a farm first hand without leaving the comfort of the air conditioned building. In addition to the farmer talks, take the treasure hunt quiz inside the Glass Barn to receive a free yellow hat!
After all of this exploration we were ready for lunch. John and I ate in the pork tent – I had a pork burger and he had a garbage burger, which was pulled pork ON TOP OF a pork burger. Awesome sauce. The roasted potatoes and applesauce that came with our meal were delicious. It was nice to sit down in the shade and enjoy a lunch.
We continued to walk around after lunch so that we could visit each building and tent that our feet would take us to. While the tractor shuttle offers rides for $1 a piece, John suggested that we walk off the food we ate (or were about to eat) and since the weather was nice, I didn’t mind the stroll through the fairgrounds.
Upon walking into the Farm Bureau Building I was greeted with the delicious smell of freshly popped popcorn, which was free to anyone! It was great to see popcorn in so many different aspects of the fair. We also walked through the FFA Pavilions and fed some of the cutest goats I’ve ever seen (and well behaved for the constant distractions of kiddos and humans wanting their attention).
Of course, after walking around for a while, the sun came out and it started to warm up a bit on us. We stopped by the Dairy Barn for milkshakes – chocolate for him, strawberry for me. This was exactly the kind of afternoon treat that we needed. I was only surprised that I didn’t get one sooner!
Many thanks go out to Indiana Family of Farmers for providing our admission to the fair and the food for the day. It was so much fun and I can’t wait to make my second trip to the fair this weekend. So if you have been wondering about what’s in the fair for you, hopefully this blog gave you some great ideas of how to spend your time there. The Indiana State Fair runs August 2 to 18.