Hoosiers’ favorite time of the year is here and their favorite event will once again provide 17 days of food, fun and a focus on Indiana’s agriculture. It’s fair time!
The Indiana State Fair runs Aug. 7-23 and is held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1202 E. 38th St.
This year has been named “Year of the Farmer” to honor and gratefully introduce those who have committed their lives to agricultural innovation. This year’s fair is dedicated to farmers and their families.
Fairgoers will also have the chance to get their fill of food and fun programming for kids, senior citizens and everyone in between.
The Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper spoke with Lesley Gordon, media and community outreach manger for the Indiana State Fair Commission to talk about what’s happening at this year’s fair.
The Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper: The 2015 Indiana State Fair is here! What did it take to ensure gates opened Aug. 7?
Gordon: It definitely takes a village. We have about 200 full-time staff, but we bring in about 1,500 in part-time staff to make sure we can execute an efficient fair. We bring in over 140 different food and merchandise vendors and we work with the state to make sure the roads around the fair are appropriate. This doesn’t even include the livestock portion of the fair. It’s a very big production.
Many people know the fair for its food and fun, but the true purpose of the fair is to focus on the state’s agriculture. Explain the Indiana State Fair’s origins.
It all started with the farmer, which ties into this year’s theme “Year of the Farmer.” The state fair was the only time farmers could get together and talk about their successes and failures on the farm. This was a meeting place and networking opportunity for Indiana farmers before there were modern conveniences.
What’s new this year?
We have lots of great new things! Our entertainment is always fresh and we try to keep it diverse and as fun as possible whether you’re at the free stage listening to Morris Day and The Time or at the Gospel Music Festival. Inside the Indiana Farmers Coliseum we’ll have concerts like the 93.9 The Beat Summer Jam which is going to be a great throwback to 90s hip-hop.
We have a new plaza outside the Indiana Farmers Coliseum that’s going to be a great spot for people watching and eating. We always have a great signature food contest so this year’s winner is the Smoked Pig Patty by the Indiana Pork Association. It’s a great spin on a traditional pork sandwich. We also have deep-fried corn which everyone is excited to test out.
We’re doing opening day really big and trying to showcase what farmers do, so we’re going to have Light Up The Night, an illuminated parade. There’s a lot of new attractions.
Is there anything special for kids and senior citizens?
Education is a very strong component of the state fair. They can look at the livestock exhibits, read banners with food facts, there’s the glass barn ran by Indiana Soybean Alliance and it’s one of my favorites. It’s a very interactive exhibit that ties in things you’re used to seeing with where they come from and the farmer that produces it. They also have live chats every day at 2:30 p.m., so it’s very kid-focused.
The wondertrail will be back again, which is a scavenger hunt around the fair as well as the Visit Indiana Harvest Pavilion.
For senior citizens, we’ll have all of their favorites. The main attraction for that group is the Senior Day for shuttle rides. They can get a $3 wristband and ride the shuttle an unlimited amount of times.
What safety measures has the Indiana State Fair Commission put in place to ensure a smooth event?
Safety is our No. 1 priority and we work year-round on that. Our team actually gets great practice because outside of the 17-day fair, we have over 300 events we host at the state fairgrounds. They’re always staying trained and up on the latest techniques. No matter the situation we have a plan in place.
Is there anything you’d like to add about this year’s Indiana State Fair?
We are encouraging everyone to visit the website. We’re doing a lot of online ticket sales and that is the best way to get your discount tickets. We also have an app that can help you plan your visit. You can find details on entertainment acts, contests taking place and even your favorite place to find corn on the cob. You can do all of this at IndianaStateFair.com.