I love going to agricultural fairs, probably because I grew up going to one of the best county fairs in the state of Ohio–the Wyandot County Fair. For some reason I never made it to the Ohio State Fair even though I was in 4-H for many years. Since moving to Indiana, I’ve been making up for this deficiency with annual trips to the Indiana State Fair. About five years ago I bought a Indiana State Fair tie die shirt, and it has become my official go-to-the-fair shirt. It never fails, people comment on my shirt, ask where they can buy one like it, and even offer to buy the one I’m wearing! No deal!
This year’s theme is “The Year of the Farmer.” It seemed fitting for our first stop to be the Pioneer Village. I can’t get enough of watching men in their bib overalls who remind me of my Dad and my grandfather. I feel like I’ve stepped back in time as I watch them turn logs into cut boards, thresh, drive a team, and more. I never leave without a bag of corn meal from the Deatline family. When you step inside, you often hear great old-time music–people singing as they play dulcimers, fiddles, and guitars. After seeing a tatting demonstration, I had to go home and pull out my shuttle and thread. I can still do it!
There are so many fun things to do at the State Fair, many of them free. The Indiana Historical Society’s Bicentennial Train, parked near the Pioneer Village, offers an opportunity for time travel. At the Farm Bureau’s Taste of Indiana, we enjoyed sampling all kinds of products grown in Indiana–turkey, lamb, beef, corn chips and salsa, watermelon, honey, popcorn, and more. And there’s the farm food. I always get a soft pretzel and an elephant ear. While I bypass the fried fair food, I love to look at their signs!
Last, but not least, I love seeing the animals. There’s something fascinating about a mother and her young, whether you visit the cattle nursery or the swine barn. The people who run the nursery arrange to have calves born throughout the fair. After the birth, they post signs announcing “It’s a bull!” or “It’s a Heifer!” This year’s champion sow and litter had eleven little ones, all quite oblivious to the cameras flashing around them.
Then there’s livestock judging. If the bleachers were more comfortable, I could sit for hours watching people of all ages walk their market lambs and goats into the ring for judging. This little guy caught my eye, and I wanted him to win. Maybe another year!
That’s it for this year’s two trips to the fair. We saw much, much more, as my tired feet can attest, but I’m already looking forward to next year’s fair!