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Indiana State Fair celebrates Hoosier popcorn industry

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INDIANAPOLIS – Whether it’s enjoyed at the movie theater, a baseball game or on the couch at home, popcorn is one of America’s favorite snack foods. As the second largest popcorn producing state in America, Indiana is a major player in the popcorn profession and the Indiana State Fair has declared 2013 the Year of Popcorn presented by Pop Weaver .

Year of Popcorn features at the fair will include free popcorn for visitors to the Farm Bureau Building; a special essay contest for school children; a Gift Shop adorned with massive popcorn decorations; and a popcorn ball like no other. Thanks to help from Pop Weaver, Snax in Pax and Indiana’s Family of Farmers , fair officials plan to unveil the World’s Largest Popcorn Ball August 3 at 10 a.m. in the Ball State Ag/Hort Building.

Construction began in June as workers at the Snax in Pax Popcorn Company in Topeka, Ind., began making and tamping thousands of pounds of popcorn into a specially created wooden form measuring 8 feet across. The ball was later transported to the State Fairgrounds where State Fair staff, board members and volunteer groups kept adding on to the curious creation. The goal is a 5,200 lb. popcorn monstrosity that will beat the current record holder, a 5,060 lb. ball made by a group in Sac City, Iowa, in 2009.

Naturally, the giant ball will be a sight to see, but it will be more than an edible oddity. It will be used in the fair’s new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education program that teaches children different educational concepts through exhibits and displays at the State Fair. The program was developed around 7th – 12th grade learning standards and includes three other attractions in addition to the popcorn ball.

“Students – and the public – will be able to calculate how many ears of corn were used to make the popcorn ball and what portion of an acre was needed to grow that amount of corn,” State Fair Agriculture Education Specialist Stephanie DeCamp said. “Those kinds of problems will incorporate agriculture into different subject areas making it fun for the kids while also supporting one of the fair’s main missions.”

Once the popcorn ball is unveiled, it will remain on display through the end of the fair Aug. 18. The Indiana Family of Farmers will then deconstruct the ball and use it as feed for livestock. They have also used the project as inspiration to donate 5,200 pounds of food to needy Hoosiers.

One other popcorn attraction that is sure to attract a crowd is the A-maize-ing Popcorn Adventure presented by Subaru . This winding popcorn maze created by Purdue Extension takes up most of the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand Side Lot and offers visitors a creative way to learn about popcorn. Professor Popcorn, Max and Max’s dog Munch help lead visitors through this popcorn tour loaded with plenty of kernels of popcorn knowledge. The maze is open daily throughout the fair.

About Indiana State Fair

The Indiana State Fair is the state’s largest multi-day event celebrating Hoosiers’ spirit and agricultural heritage. Nationally recognized for offering great entertainment, showcasing youth, interactive agriculture education programs, premiere facilities and a variety of unique, fun foods, the Indiana State Fair has been an annual tradition for generations of Hoosiers since 1852. The 2013 fair boasts “Fun at Every Turn” and is celebrating the “Year of Popcorn” presented by Weaver Popcorn Company. For more information, please visit www.indianastatefair.com .

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