Agriculture

Indiana State Fair Preview

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August 1, 2013 — TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – This year’s Indiana State Fair kicks off Friday morning and promises “fun at every turn,” including food, rides, concerts and more than a dozen new attractions.

State Fair discount programBut fair officials say the fair experience is about more than entertainment.

Spokesman Andy Klotz said the fair has budgeted for 850,000 visitors, which he said is slightly more than the fair’s 5-year attendance average and an “attainable goal,” especially since the weather is forecasted to be mild the first weekend of the fair.

Cindy Hoye, the Indiana State Fair Commission’s executive director, said part of the fair’s mission is to showcase “agriculture, youth and education” to teach each and every visitor something new.

Hoye said the goal is to create a “landscape of learning” through an education program that not only spans the 17-day state fair but also continues year round.

That program, known as the State’s Largest Classroom education program, includes the new Glass Barn, a 4,500 square foot glass-paneled barn with interactive features and games designed to teach fairgoers about three farm families in Indiana and how modern farming works.

Beth Logue, a regular fairgoer from Avon, said one of her favorite things about the fair is the opportunity to learn “a lot” about something new, whether about crops, animals or any other topic.

“Everybody can learn something at the state fair,” Logue said.

And, she said, “everybody can eat.”

Logue said she and her husband always visit one fair staple: The Dairy Barn.

She said the barn is a must-visit for its frozen yogurt and grilled cheese. This year, the fair has added a sandwich with blue cheese to its menu.

Logue’s favorites are just a few of the many food options at the state fair, with about 140 food vendors located all around the fairgrounds.

In past years, the fair has had a signature food tied to the featured product. Klotz said because this year’s featured product is popcorn, the fair has chosen to go a different route.

“There’s only so much you can do with popcorn,” Klotz.

So instead of offering a signature food, Klotz said, the fair is having vendors put up signs to indicate if they offer foods with less than 350 calories.

Klotz said this is so people can find healthier options.

The fair also offers visitors more affordable options in purchasing tickets, midway wristbands and food, with 15 special pricing programs.

Hoye said the fair offers the programs because “we know that these kinds of discounts are important to people when deciding what to do with their families.”

Logue said other than the opportunity to learn and to eat “food away from home,” she likes “the diversity of what there is to do” at the fair.

And Klotz said there is a “big, long list” of even more to do at the fair this year, with more than a dozen new attractions, including the world’s largest popcorn ball, a popcorn maze, and an additional midway just for kids.

Klotz said he thinks “Get Animated,” an 8,000 square foot exhibit that explores the history of animation, will be the most popular new attraction.

He said it will appeal to grandparents because they will be able to see the classic Mickey Mouse and to younger visitors because they can see newer characters.

Another popular new attraction is the fair’s “Vocal Throwdown,” an open singing competition that allows people to submit a video of themselves singing.

The competition began with an audition round, which ended July 21. Twenty competitors – 10 people ages six to 15 and 10 ages 16 to 21 – moved on and will compete in the preliminary round Saturday on the Main Street Stage.

The fair kicks off Friday morning at 7 a.m. with a ham breakfast followed by the opening ceremonies at 8:15 a.m. It runs through Aug. 18.

Regular admission tickets are $10 per day.

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