Monday, January 11, 2010

Top 10 Hidden Treasures at the Indiana State Fairgrounds

Sure, you know all about the Great Indiana State Fair, and of course, the big shows that lure you to the grounds annually – Christmas Gift and Hobby Show, Indianapolis Home Show, and even the Boat, Sport, and Travel Show to name just a few. But, a casual stroll thru this 250-acre campus might just lead you to something you didn’t know existed.

So, I have compiled my personal list of Top 10 Hidden Treasures at the Fairgrounds. Read, enjoy, and then come on out and experience them for yourself. And, while you’re at it, if you find a few of your own that aren’t listed here – come on back and share your personal Fairgrounds finds with the rest of us!! We’ll be glad you did.

  1. Puck: the Pepsi Coliseum’s unofficial mascot - a goofy, loveable, black lab retriever. Find him in the Skate Shop and bring him a doggie treat, in return he just might give you a big sloppy kiss!
  2. Barto’s Catering and Concessions: yep, we have an award-winning caterer right here on the grounds. Located in the Farm Bureau Building, Barto’s menu is pretty extensive. I can attest personally that they offer delicious food and service on a budget.
  3. Normandy Barn: maybe I’m a little biased on this one. My office was once located inside this beautifully renovated 1936-era dairy barn before it moved to its final resting place on the northside.
  4. DNR Complex: come take a stroll around the DNR grounds in the warmer months for an introduction to hundreds of native wildflowers and indigenous trees. See how many you can name…there are more than you might think!
  5. Orville Redenbacher: the Popcorn King’s signature is located on the northside of the grounds in an engraved stone tablet. What was once part of a “Walk of Fame” that included famous sigs from Garfield creator Jim Davis to John Mellencamp, you can now find the remaining concrete tablets embedded in benches along the northside of the Fairgrounds parallel to the harness racing track.
  6. The White House: resting sedately next to the Home and Family Arts Building, the White House was built for the 1936 State Fair as a modern Model Farm Home. The home is now a crash pad of sorts for certain State Fair staffers who never have the opportunity to leave the grounds during the Fair. Sorry guys.
  7. Hook’s Drug Store Museum and Soda Fountain: Did you know you don’t have to wait until the Fair to get a sneak peek inside this historically authentic drug store? To schedule a tour or special event, call 317.294.3087.
  8. Indiana State Fair Covered Bridge: ok, so it’s not technically “hidden” but it certainly is a treasure. And, by visiting off-season you can do something you can’t do during the Fair – drive through it! You’ll suddenly feel transported to Parke County – covered bridge capital of the world.
  9. Trail of Trees: Erected during the 2008 Indiana State Fair’s “Year of Trees”, this trail brings you to 25 indigenous Indiana trees located around the grounds. Pick up a brochure from the Administration Building and take your time – you’ll need it.
  10. Greenhouse: In addition to growing 10 ft. high tomato plants – in the winter no less - our Education Specialist, Mark Brammer, is also hard at work building a special aquaponics system. Once complete, the recirculating aquatic environment will demonstrate how fish, water and plants can work together to create an entirely self-sufficient mini-eco system. Does it get any “greener” than that?
Submitted by Angie Foreman

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