Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Babe. Winkelman.

Florida has Disney World. Virginia has Colonial Williamsburg. Minnesota has the Mall of America.

And Indiana has its very own attraction/amusement park for the next week. I’m not kidding. It's a playground for one and all. It’s the Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show. It’s been a long time since I was on a boat - the last time, I was sitting on deck drinking something with an umbrella in it - and I don’t consider myself as “sporty,” but if I were you, I’d travel over to the show at the fairgrounds. (See how clever I am, with using the words of the event in my blog? Oh, my sides!)

A few reasons why you should go:

**DockDogs. There are DockDogs shows, where local four-legged friends and their owners compete to be the top diver/jumper. If you go, you’ll get a sneak-peek, since the DockDogs will be featured this summer at the Indiana State Fair!

**Kids’ Day. On February 27th, get them out of the house and onto the Rock Wall. They’ll love you for it. They’re already squirrelly for Spring; why not humor them?

**Tackle Town. I am not making this up. There is an area called Tackle Town USA. Shouldn’t that be reason enough?

**Twiggy the Water Skiing Squirrel. This is exactly what it sounds like. Check out Twiggy’s schedule here.

**Babe Winkelman. As a little sister who had no choice but to watch whatever her big brother was watching on TV, I know who Babe Winkelman is. He’s a well-known outdoorsman, and has been hosting shows about hunting and fishing for years and years. But regardless of that fact, I’m okay with anything having to do with a man who has a name like Babe Winkelman. BABE WINKELMAN, people.

So what are you doing this week? Why not do something different, get out of the house, and get a taste of warmer weather at the Indianapolis Boat, Sport, & Travel Show. It’s here all week (until 9PM on weekdays), through the weekend. If you stop by, tell Babe and Twiggy I said hi. At the very least, have your picture taken next to the Tackle Town sign.

Submitted by Claire Wilcher

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olympic figure skating - An insider's guide

Have you been enjoying this year’s Olympic Games? Lord knows that all the snow around here sure keeps you in the “winter mood.” I always find it interesting how we Americans pay attention to sports like freestyle skiing and 2-man bobsled once every four years, but then after watching it for an hour on TV, we are suddenly experts, knowing exactly what each competitor did wrong or should have done differently.

When it comes to figure skating, there is one person around here who has the credentials to back up any criticisms. Sandy Lamb is a coach with the Winter Club of Indianapolis, which is based at the Pepsi Coliseum and was one of the first
clubs in the country to become an official US Figure Skating affiliate.

Sandy started skating at the Coliseum when she was 7 years old and has never stopped. She’s coached for 43 years and has guided many skaters to national prominence and one senior team to the Olympic and World teams. She was elected the first female president of the Professional Skaters Association (the largest organization of ice skating professionals in the world) and has a sister who was one of the best ice dancers in the world before it became an official Olympic event. I asked her a few questions about this year’s Olympics, and here is her take:

Q: What do you enjoy most about the Olympics?
A: Since I was a coach at the Olympics many years ago, I know what the athletes have in the Olympic Village. The cafeteria is "the place" where all of the different athletes meet to have their meals. It is a great time for the different sports to get together and ask how the day went (on the ski hill, the bobsled run, the skating rink, etc.). Great fun!

Q: What are your favorite Olympic memories?
A: I always enjoy seeing what the configuration of the torch is that will burn during the entire games as well as who is selected to light the torch.

Q: Who are some skaters we should be looking for in these games?
A: For the Americans, watch for Jeremy Abbott and Evan Lysacek (last year’s World Champion) in the men’s competition. In the dance event, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto AND Charlie White and Meryl Davis are strong – both teams should be in the top 3 or 4. The pair event was won at our Nationals by a fairly new team with little experience, so it is a guess as to how well they will skate and do on the International scene. The ladies do not have a "name" that people recognize yet. This hurts figure skating because we usually have a recognized “Queen of the Ice.” We need that at these Olympics so people will latch on to figure skating again.

Q: Is America’s future bright in figure skating?
A: As I said before, we need a "name" in the ladies event so people can watch her and feel as though they know the champions. Rachael Flatt, the 2010 U.S. Ladies Champion, is very athletic and performs fairly consistently; however, she lacks beauty and flow in her skating.

Sounds like my skating, but my only shot at Olympic glory is if they add channel changing as an official competition. Maybe someday.

Submitted by Andy Klotz

Friday, February 12, 2010

(Wo)man's Best Friend

We walk around covered in hair that is not our own.
We spend money on treats, but not for ourselves.
We keep the sticky-lint-roller-thingy companies in business.

We are Dog People.

In light of the Indy Winter Classic Dog Show that is taking place at the Indiana State Fairgrounds this weekend (learn details here), I wanted to introduce you to the canine companions that bring adventure to the households of your “Blue Ribbon Blog”gers.

First up is Laci. She belongs to Bobbi Bates. Laci is a Miniature Schnauzer who is almost five…although you’d never guess it with her sweet little puppy face!

(Something tells me that Laci doesn’t sleep under the covers like that, but it’s too cute for me to wonder about it too much.)

Next up is seven-month-old Lola, who belongs to Angie Foreman. Lola, according to Angie, is “pure mutt” with a dash of Border Collie. And from these pictures with Angie’s kids, it looks like she’s pure fun too.

Last, but certainly not least, is my Sophie. She’s a Corgi/Beagle mix (a “Corgle,” I’m told) who is five years old. That breed combination makes for very short legs, a hound-dog sniffer, and a quirky personality.

From the second picture, can you figure out why I call her Yoda sometimes?

Our fourth blogger, Andy Klotz, does not have a dog. That’s okay though; he can always borrow one of ours if ever he feels the need for a good snuggle or a romp in the yard.
Are you a dog person? Come celebrate our canine companions at the Indy Winter Classic Dog Show at the fairgrounds, all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Just bring a lint roller.

Submitted by Claire Wilcher

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jump, Dog, Jump

Everyone loves dogs, or so it seems. During the State Fair, we draw incredible crowds for the dog shows and other dog-related events, and the same will be true this weekend during the Indy Winter Classic Dog Show.

The Indy Winter Classic has more than 2,000 dogs from around the country competing in dozens of categories. Ultimately, there will be 7 different group champions crowned and one of those will be selected as Best of Show. So that got me – a non-dog owner – wondering what makes one dog that much better than another.

Some people like big, hairy dogs; other folks like small, short-haired dogs, and that’s understandable. But if you are standing there looking at 20 different Golden Retrievers, how do you decide that one is so much “better” than the others?

Roger Hartinger can tell you. He has been all over the world judging dogs of all different breeds for the past 35 years. He seems to like the Indianapolis show, which is run by the Hoosier Kennel Club, and especially likes the renovations done to the West Pavilion over the years.

He said that many things figure into a dog's final score other than appearance. He knows each breed's history and what they were originally bred to do. For instance, an Alaskan Malamute has to look like it can pull a sled, so it needs to have a certain look and movement... interesting.

So the next time you think your Beagle is a champion -remember, he may look great, but that's not all that matters. When it comes to show dogs, there’s more than meets the eye.

Submitted by Andy Klotz

Friday, February 5, 2010

Going Green and Blah Blah Blah

“It’s not easy being green.” You got that right Kermie.

In today’s world, there’s an abundant supply of “going green” tips, opinions, and unsolicited advice from sustainability do-gooders. It seems everywhere you turn these days, you’re hit with something about “greening your ______” (take your pick: life, planet, office, home, and on and on…).

Now, this is all fine and good. But, you have to weed out what will work for you and what just doesn’t make sense. After all, some people might have the wherewithal to install solar panels to their roof and a wind turbine in their backyard. Others, well, it’s all you can do to take out your weekly supply of recyclables to the curb for pick-up. I personally fall somewhere closer to the curbside recycler.

But, I’m happy to report that my employer, the Great Indiana State Fairgrounds is falling closer to the “wind turbine” caliber of sustainability. Yes, we did indeed install a wind turbine last spring, which generates 5 kilowatts of electricity an hour! We also created a rain garden, installed a greenhouse, solar shelters, and planted enough tomatoes to feed a small army for the 2009 Indiana State Fair. In fact, we have been awarded and recognized nationally at the IAFE (International Association of Fairs and Expos) for our greening efforts. We were even nominated for an Indianapolis Sustainability Award!

All this green “do-goodery” at work does make me think about ways I can improve my sustainability actions at home. Hmmm, perhaps I’ll get around to installing a compost bin this spring – and just maybe my vegetable garden will thank me with big, juicy sun-ripened tomatoes. I think Kermit would even agree – being green may not be easy, but it can be very tasty.

Submitted by Angie Foreman