Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Quarter midget racers bring big skills to race day - UPDATED with video

They drive quarter-scale cars, but have full focus on and off the race track.

Drivers at the Quarter Midget Association’s Eastern Grands have spent years modifying their skills and race cars – some of which easily exceed $7,000 – all for a chance to be tops in their class. The 2010 installment of the national event is going on this week at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and more than 500 drivers are all vying for the top award, the Brick trophy.

Each driver, who range from 5 to 16 years old, comes from one of 32 states or Canada, has his or her own philosophy on what it takes to win.

“You have to have common sense, you have to anticipate a little and you have to be smooth,” said Michael Ostdiek, a 13-year-old from Minnesota who’s been racing since he was 5.

Pennsylvania’s Rich Sweeney said there are several factors that come into play once racers are on the concrete 1/20 of a mile “Mini-Indy Speedway” at the fairgrounds.

“Everything has to be right. The car, the track, the judges – even the flag,” said the 14-year-old, whose car can get up to near 50 mph. “Everything has to go right to win.”

Winning is only one small part of the sport for these pint-sized quarter-midget drivers, their friends and family.

Michael’s mother, Teresa Ostdiek, likened the sport to 4-H, in that everyone gets to build close relationships with one another. There are other perks, too, she noted.

“They continue to become more confident,” she said. “The kids that are behind a wheel are sometimes better drivers than those with a license.”

For more on this speedy sport, visit http://www.mini-indy.org/ or watch the video below.

Submitted by Kristofer Karol
(Photo courtesy of Central Indiana
Quarter Midgets of America

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Don't judge a book by its cover at clearance sales!

When I was a child, I would often accompany my parents and older sister to discount book sales and, many times, I’d walk out with a stack of books taller than me.

There’s nothing like heaving huge piles of books to the side before finding that one story you’ve been scouring the earth for. It’s also refreshing picking up a text you never expected to find or buy, but the price that day was just right for the book to make it into your tote bag.

Perhaps I’ll relive my childhood days during this weekend’s Half Price Books Indianapolis Clearance Sale at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The book store chain is bringing in 200,000 books, mostly older and newer titles – but not current bestsellers. The chain will also offer up CDs, DVDs and VHS tapes.

The best part? Everything is $3 or less. If that’s not incentive enough, maybe I’ll be lucky and be one of the first 200 shoppers each day – those fortunate folks get free tote bags.

The show is free and runs 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the Ag-Hort Building – that’s the big building by the Midway arch.

Good thing there’s plenty of parking near the building – I might need a close spot if I once again walk out with a stack of books taller than me!

Submitted by Kristofer Karol

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pig Crazy from the Beginning

Introduction by Courtney Sampson, Publicity and Media Relations Intern

Hey friends,
If you haven't met Denae Pyle yet, you're in for a real treat. Denae became the official hostess of our State Fair after she earned the title 2010 Indiana State Fair Queen! Occasionally, we will re-post some of Denae's entries from her personal blog, Pig Crazy Queen, which she updates regularly on her journey visiting Indiana's County Fairs. You can catch Denae during this year's Indiana State Fair, but in the meantime, get to know Denae as she chronicles a Day in the Life of a Pig Crazy Queen.
Th-th-th-that's all, folks!
- Courtney

Meet the Queen:

Won Miss Kosciuscko 2009
20-year-old Junior at Purdue University Studying Hospitality and Tourism Management - made the Dean's List!
4-H member for 10 years; showed dairy calf feeder steers and swine
Loves community service
Really enjoys shopping!

Here are some excerpts from Denae's first blog post:
"There is a children's book called 'Princess Pig' by Eileen Spinelli, and it's a story about a sash from a local beauty pageant that blows to a barnyard and ends up around the neck of Pig. She wakes up and thinks it's a sign that she must be a princess. Princess Pig is treated like a princess by all the barnyard animals, but she comes to find out that princesses aren't allowed to roll in the mud or sleep in late. Pony, another character in the story says 'It’s a fine thing to be a pig, if a pig is what you are.'

The last day of the 2009 Indiana State Fair came around, and all 88 girls were anxiously awaiting the outcome of the 2010 Queen. The judges had deliberated and the emcees were now announcing the Queens Court, and then finally the Queen. Like Princess Pig, unexpectedly a sash blew around my neck and a massive crown was placed on my head by the 2009 Queen, Haleigh Yergler. And that is where my escapade began.

I grew up on a hog farm and would sit in the pens with the baby pigs when I was little. As we got a little older, we got roped in to the “oh-so-fun” job of sorting hundreds of baby pigs into pens. Then we got a little bit older than that, and had the even more fun job (hint: I am being very sarcastic!) of loading out pigs when they were just slightly larger. Is 250 pounds a little larger than a 3-week piglet weighing about 10 pounds?! I think so. I’ll just say that the best memories I have weren’t when we were loading out 500 250-lbs hogs. I’ll give my Dad the credit for doing it over and over and over! But those hog barns are where I learned what it meant to work hard and where my family really bonded. If it weren’t for my Dad and those hundreds of pigs in and out of those barns, I would never have ended up being a 10-year 4-H member showing hogs at the Kosciusko County Fair every summer as well.

In the 'Princess Pig', Pony says 'It’s a fine thing to be a pig, if a pig is what you are.' Even with a sash and crown, I am always going to be me. Yes, the title of the “Indiana State Fair Queen” means I will be traveling around the state of Indiana all summer and being the hostess at the State Fair, but I’ll be me the entire way. I am a country girl at heart and can’t get enough bacon or Country music. It’s also very hard for me to let people wait and serve me, when I am driven to serve others. I just pray that God uses me this summer to serve others through this experience!

So I am truly a 'Pig Crazy Queen,' and I am very excited to reign over this summer and during the Indiana State Fair -- the Year of Pigs -- as your Miss Indiana State Fair Queen 2010."

Blog excerpts written by Denae Pyle; compiled by Courtney Sampson

¡Ay, caramba! State Fairgrounds to host 10th annual El Dia de la Familia

My colleague, Kris, is a native Michiganian, but he’s temporarily flocked south to attend graduate school at IUPUI. Since I love Indiana, and he’s new to the area, I will occasionally (OK, I admit, it’s more like “often”) recommend places to go, people he should meet, restaurants to try, and give him other advice. Just ‘dub me “Queen of Hoosier Hospitality.”

So naturally, when Kris told me he’s yet to find a great place to eat Mexican food, I offered up a laundry list of restaurants. I guess that means this blog entry goes out to Kris and my fellow Hoosiers.

One of my favorite authentic Mexican restaurants, El Sol de Tala, will be selling food at the festival this weekend! Even though Mexico is about 1,500 miles away from Indianapolis, it doesn’t mean the food changes when you eat at El Sol. I really hope they’ll serve up some guac and warm chips. Another vendor to check out while you’re at the festival would be Restaurante Oaxaca. If they bring their special green sauce, you’ll need to find the nearest margarita vendor to help cool your taste buds.

We all love great food, but if you’re looking for something more than tacos and tamales, there will be plenty of music and free family-friendly fun. Here are all the details you’ll need:

WHEN: This Saturday, June 19th
WHERE: Indiana State Fairgrounds Infield
TIME: Noon – Gates open
1 p.m. – Live music begins
10:45 p.m. – Fireworks show
COST: FREE with a $5 parking fee

Oh yeah, and here’s one last Hoosier Hospitality tip for you – get here early – this is the first year the State Fairgrounds will host the event, and we’re expecting a large crowd!

Submitted by: Courtney Sampson

‘New face of Hip-Hop’ coming to the Fairgrounds

I’m a Detroit native, so country music doesn’t exactly run in my genes, but start talking hip-hop and, well, now we’re in business. Kurtis Blow. Run DMC. Outkast. The list goes on and on …

Thankfully, the Great Indiana State Fair is, once again, offering a diverse mix of entertainers at the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand by bringing in new hip-hop sensation Drake on Aug. 13.

The Canadian-born rapper released his highly anticipated debut album, “Thank Me Later,” last week and is already generating buzz in the media. The New York Times has gone as far as saying Drake is “the new face of hip-hop.”

The L.A. Times said Drake’s pop hooks are an “unholy amalgamation of the Backstreet Boys, Phil Collins and Mase.” I’m not sure how you mix those three sounds together but, rest assured, I’m interested to see how any artist can pull off that concoction!

Being a former music reporter, I’m also always interested in seeing, listening and supporting new acts and Drake is about as fresh things get right now in the hip-hop world.

You can “thank me later” for giving you the scoop on Drake by coming out and supporting an up-and-coming musician trying to make his mark in an ultra-competitive genre. Plus, you can grab a deep-fried Twinkie before the show – where else can you dine and be entertained like that??

Submitted by Kristofer Karol

Friday, June 11, 2010

Total Warrior Challenge 6 comes to Fairgrounds

Looking for a unique way to spend your Saturday evening? I’ve got an idea for you. Staying true to the mixed martial arts culture, I’m offering up a countdown of the reasons why you should consider coming out to the Indiana State Fairgrounds’ Toyota Blue Ribbon Pavilion to watch “Total Warrior Challenge VI.”

5) This will be the Fairgrounds’ inaugural Premier Cage Fighting event, and you won’t want to miss it!

4) Glitter Girls (better known as Ring Girls). Oh, and rumor has it, UFC’s Chris Lylte, who will be in attendance, is also a full-time firefighter in Indianapolis.

3) Meet the stars of tomorrow before they get their big break and become famous!

2) “The Beast” vs. “The Pitbull” – who would you put your money on?

1) Anything that costs just $25 bucks and takes up an entire Saturday night is definitely worth checking out!

The fight card features a main event between Joao “Pitbull” Herdy (5-1) and former CageCraze.com featured fighter, Dustin “The Beast” Neace (21-15-1). Other professionals set to fight include: Marvin Lemock, Justin Allen, Casey Dyer, and James Shaw. There will also be multiple amateur cards featuring Abe Garcia, Bobby Thilman, Matthew Perry, and Bryant Whitaker. Here's a clip from Total Warrior Challenge V.

Doors to the Toyota Blue Ribbon Pavilion open at 6pm, and the fights begin at 7pm. To purchase your tickets and discover more information about this weekend’s fight card and other Premier Cage Fighting events, log on to www.totalwarriorchallenge.com or follow them on Twitter @CageCraze.

Submitted by: Courtney Sampson

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hundreds of Volunteers Lend Helping Hands for AgHome

What do you get when 200 volunteers, generous sponsors, thousands of nails, and hundreds of
2 x 4’s come together on a bright, sunny morning? A five-bedroom, two-bathroom Habitat for Humanity home!

The Indiana State Fairgrounds hosted a panel build where board, commission, and staff members worked alongside hundreds of sponsor and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis (HFHGI) volunteers. Sheila Carlson, HFHGI Development and Community Relations Coordinator, was one of this morning’s hardworking crew members.

HFHGI has built more than 370 homes since its inception in 1987, but this home is unique. Several sponsors have stepped-up to help make Allen’s dream of home ownership a reality and showcase the impact of Indiana’s agriculture, a $25 billion industry.

Now that the panels are completed, full construction will take place on the north side of the Fairgrounds during this year’s fair. Normally, a Habitat home is built in six weeks, but Allen’s home will be completed in 15 days and then transported to its permanent site in Central Indianapolis.

A big thank you to everyone who gave their time and effort today! We hope you’ll consider touring the Habitat for Humanity home at this year’s Indiana State Fair, Aug. 6 – 22!

Submitted by: Courtney Sampson

Monday, June 7, 2010

Retirees, teenagers put best foot forward at State Fair’s Job Fair

What do you do if you don’t want a full-time job or a part-time job? How about a seasonal job?

Such was the situation for Pendleton’s Teresa Mason, who came out to Thursday’s Indiana State Fair Job Fair in hopes of landing a temporary Fair position.

“I’m a people person, so I like being around crowds,” said Mason, a 1-year-old retired school teacher and customer service supervisor. "I find it fascinating to watch different kinds of people and interact with them, so I think this is a perfect run of people coming through the gates.”

We had nearly 1,500 job-seekers turn out for about 400 temporary positions at the Indiana State Fair, set this year for Aug. 6-22. Grounds, security, education and other departments all held interviews with applicants, which ranged from teenagers to retirees and Hoosiers to Kentuckians, in the Farm Bureau Building.

Monique Andurson and her brother, Chaz Johnson, weren’t going to let something so little as living in another state deter them from applying for jobs.

The Louisville, Ky. siblings, who have family living in Indianapolis, made the 120-mile trek and were the first in line at 8 a.m. – even though the fair started at 3 p.m. Johnson said a friend had told him the fair started earlier, but that he and his sister toughed it out most of the day because they wanted to be there a “good reasonable time” before anybody else.

“I need something that’s going to help me out,” said Andurson, 17, as she filled out an application. “I need money in my pocket.”

If you couldn’t make it to the job fair, but still want to submit an application, you can do so by stopping in the Employment Office in the Public Safety Building at the Fall Creek Parkway entrance from June 8-18. For more information on the Indiana State Fair, visit http://www.indianastatefair.com/.

Submitted by Kristofer Karol
(above photo by Nick Hewitt)