Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tippecanoe County Reigns Supreme

It wouldn’t be the end of the fair without crowning a new Indiana State Fair queen. Today, 88 great girls throughout the state highlighted what Indiana is all about. However, it was Erika Burghardt of Tippecanoe County who was crowned as Miss Indiana State Fair 2012. You couldn’t ask for a better reaction from Erika. "Surprised," "shocked" and "tears of joy" are all accurate descriptions of her emotions the moments after her name was called.

Check it out:

Throughout the summer I watched Sara Alford represent the 2011 Indiana State Fair and take part in many of the events during the fair. She did a great job, and I have no doubt that Erika will take over the title and do the same thing.

Congratulations, Erika! I can’t wait to return to the fair next year and see you reign over the “Year of Dairy Cows”!

Submitted by: Julie Woodward

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Blue Monkey Sideshow

These people are freaks. And no, I am not being insulting or judgmental – the members of the Blue Monkey Sideshow pride themselves on being highly entertaining but slightly insane.

The show features five men, all working together in various acts to put together a show that is amusing and mind-boggling, with a comical twist.

And who are these sideshow members? There is main narrator Krembo, musician Skanky, “Mystic of the East” Swami, sword-swallowing Freakshow Foley and masked Zja ‘Dega.

There were many acts in this half-hour show but the one that I found most disturbing was when Freakshow Foley swallowed a foot-long sword without a moment of hesitation. To my delight (and horror), that first sword wasn’t the only one Foley swallowed – he also gulped down a curved sword that caused his Adam’s apple to move as the sword passed through his throat.

The show also featured a bed of nails, extreme juggling and the Swami mediating in an airless bag for three minutes.

You know I can’t give anything else away – so you have to see the Blue Monkey Sideshow for yourself in any of its remaining performances. For the last two days of the State Fair, you can check out this quirky show at 3:30, 5:30, 7:30 and 9 p.m. in the Dow AgroSciences Celebration Park.

Want some more info on the Blue Monkey Sideshow? Visit for information on the performers and where the show is headed next!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Dr. Oz and the Donut Burger

I would have never thought of myself as someone to get star-struck but boy, was I wrong – because that’s exactly what happened when I met Dr. Oz on Thursday.

Dr. Oz knew that he was coming to the State Fair Aug. 11 to speak about Hoosier health. What he did not realize was that once he took the stage, he would be handed a donut burger. True Indiana State Fair style.

In case you are unfamiliar – a donut burger consists of a burger with all the fixes (onions, tomato, pickles, etc) squeezed in between two Krispy Kreme donuts.

It was unnerving to hand televisions new face of health a donut burger (in front of thousands of people), but someone had to do it. When presented with the burger, Dr. Oz grabbed the delicious concoction without hesitation and took a huge bite. The crowd went wild. And I got escorted off the stage.

My three minutes of fame might have been over but Dr. Oz remained on stage to dazzle the audience.

Look below for a snippet of his presentation!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A LEGO Up on Everyone Else

My two boys love LEGOS®. They could sit and build things for hours. Well, at least they could. They’re 10 and 13 now and LEGOS aren’t quite as cool as they used to be, but don’t try telling that to Brian Darrow.

Who’s Brian Darrow? Just call him “Mr. LEGO.”

Actually, Brian is just a regular guy… chiropractor by day, Lego madman by night (and weekends). Like every young boy, Brian started out building basic scenes with standard LEGO® kits. That was in the 1960s. When Brian’s sons started tinkering with the plastic bricks in the ‘80s and ‘90s, his interest was renewed and the hobby turned into a passion.

In 2003, Brian joined IndyLUG (Indy LEGO Users Group) and his creations started getting larger and larger. His works were part of the club’s public shows, but now have become so elaborate and well known that he usually has his own exhibitions, including one this year at the Indiana State Fair.

Brian has spent countless hours putting together his dynamic creations, but real Hoosiers are most amazed by his miniature Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The scene is not only ripe with detail inside the track, but the business and traffic jams outside the track are just as realistic.

It’s hard to tell in this video, but the front straight-away of this speedway has 33 signatures on it. The autographs are from all 33 drivers of the 2011 Indianapolis 500, in order of course. He even has A J Foyt's signature in the pace car position!

Brian is very happy to be sharing his passion with the public. His works will be in the Ellison Bakery Home & Family Arts Building throughout the remainder of the State Fair and he will be on hand to take visitors’ questions on the final two weekends of the fair.

So the next time you think your kid has become too old to play with his Legos, think about Brian… successful, happy and humble. Who wouldn’t want their kid to turn out like that?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pioneer Village Celebrates 50 Years

Fairgoers of all ages enjoy the old-time fun Pioneer Village offers. Now in its 50th year of existence, enthusiasts from all over Indiana are expressing their love for this beloved exhibit of the fair. One of those people is long-time fair fan, Eugene Brodie. Eugene’s parents took him to his first fair as a small child and he has attended the fair every year since. In fact, 72-year-old Eugene has not missed the Indiana State Fair in more than 65 consecutive years. Now that’s impressive!

His favorite memory? Eugene remembers getting an ice cream with butterscotch and nuts every year as a kid, something he says has now been replaced with elephant ears.

“They’re probably my favorite-I get one every year,” said Eugene while laughing.

Growing up, Eugene says his favorite activity was going to the Agricultural Building and looking at the antique tractors. Even though he started going to the State Fair before Pioneer Village was built, he has visited the exhibit every year since it opened in 1961. Seeing the antique tractors in Pioneer Village as well as enjoying the music and farm equipment remain some of his favorite things to do at the State Fair today. Eugene was surprised to hear that Pioneer Village is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

“That was 50 years ago?” he asked. We know, Eugene, we know.

Pioneer Village has expanded and developed like crazy in the last 50 years. Yet, it remains the perfect place where the modern world disappears and pioneer life takes over. It’s life the way your grandparents, or great-grandparents, lived. And most importantly, its fun. Where else can you go to experience life before modern conveniences (and get to leave when you’re ready to get back to your real, comfortable life)?

And the best part of having a 50th anniversary? Celebrating. The big celebration event takes place Sunday, Aug. 14 at 1 p.m. when more than 150 antique tractors will dominate a special 50th Anniversary Parade in the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand. The parade will feature bands, animals, vintage vehicles and other unique oddities.

Although Eugene won’t get a chance to see the parade this year, he is already planning his annual trip to the State Fair. I got to hear briefly about his experience with Pioneer Village and the State Fair, but I am hoping to see him in action when he comes to the fair on Aug. 18. 50 years of Pioneer Village and long-time fair fans- what could be better?


Sunday, August 7, 2011

It's a bird, it's a's a zeppelin

Have you ever imagined floating high in the air, getting a bird’s eye view and seeing as far as the eye can see? What if I told you the Indiana State Fair is giving away a chance for one lucky winner to take a flight of a lifetime? On Aug. 10, we will do just that.

The Farmers Airship, the world’s largest airship and one of only two Zeppelins in the world, is coming to Indy Aug. 8 and will fly over the State Fair a few different times during its week-long stay in town. It’s all part of the Farmers Airship Covering Communities Tour, which is a six-month journey taking the world’s largest airship across the U.S. and back.

The airship will be offering public “flightseeing” tours departing from the Indianapolis Regional Airport (formerly called Mt. Comfort) in Greenfield for $375/person. However, one lucky Twitter follower of the Indiana State Fair will win a free flight for himself and a friend. To enter, you must be following the fair on Twitter at @Indystatefair and then re-Tweet the following message:

“Want to float over @Indystatefair on the world’s largest airship? RT for a chance to win.”

At noon on Wednesday, Aug. 10, we will draw one winner who will get two seats for a flight on Friday, Aug. 12. These restrictions apply:

  • You must be at least 18 years old and weigh less than 300 pounds
  • You must be able to walk and climb stairs unassisted
  • You must supply your name, email address and weight as well as the weight of the person who will accompany you on your flight

These two seats will be good ONLY on Friday, Aug. 12. You must arrive at the airport in Greenfield promptly at 4 p.m. and your flight will last from 5 – 5:45 p.m. Flight is subject to changes in weather. Any cancellations or reschedules must be worked out with the Airship company.

LinkThis is the only commercial passenger airship in the United States, so very few people will ever get to have this experience. And how cool would it be to actually hover over the Great Indiana State Fair in full swing?! If you want to track the airship online, check it out at

By the way, if you win the tickets, will you take me?

Good luck!

Submitted by: Julie Woodward

MHS presents The Stars of the Peking Acrobats

If there is something that you cannot afford to miss at the fair this year- it’s the Stars of the Peking Acrobats.

These acrobats travel around the world, showcasing ancient Chinese acrobatics in a variety of acts that aren’t for the faint of heart. They balance drums, do headstands on top of six balancing chairs and even have eight people stand on a bicycle at one time.

I would love to tell you about each act, but these feats of strength and balance are nearly impossible to explain- you have to see the acts performed to truly appreciate the talent these acrobats have. To get a better idea of how great these performances are, check out the below video!

But wait, you haven’t heard the best part - not only is this an amazing show, it is FREE entertainment!

That’s right, people. With paid admission to the fair, you get to experience mind-blowing acts that will have you on the edge of your seat. If you want to see this great show, I would suggest getting there early because the seats fill up fast!

You can check out The Stars of Peking Acrobats perform every day of the fair in the Dow AgroSciences Celebration Park at Noon, 2:30 and 5 p.m. There are special shows available at 7 p.m. on some nights, so be sure to check in your free Indiana State Fair program!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The 2011 Indiana State Fair Has Offically Begun!

I pride myself as a born and raised Hoosier, so this fair isn’t my first. It is, however, my first as an intern. The fair is in full swing and let me tell you, there is SO much to see, do and yes, eat!

Despite an afternoon pop-up shower, the fair kicked-off with great weather. Fairgoers were greeted with slightly cooler temps that made it even better. So all in all, opening day went off with out a hitch!

Wondering what is new to the 2011 Indiana State Fair? Here are just a few of what’s new:

  • “Wilkommen to Germany”
  • Fido 500/Wiener 100 Mini-Dog Races
  • The Stars of the Peking Acrobats
  • Timberworks Lumberjack Show
  • Pioneer Village 50th Anniversary

Along with fair classics, you may just need to come 2 or 3 or 17 days to fit everything in!

State Fair Marsh Band Day

Band Day- what a day! I had the amazing opportunity to experience Band Day in its entirety- that’s 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., folks. Seeing all the hard work and excitement of the students was amazing and helped convert me into a band fan. And because of how excited I was to witness this annual competition, I can only imagine how happy Winchester Community High School was to WIN the competition.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking this was an easy triumph – Winchester had a lot of things against them. They are a small fish in a pool of large bands such as Anderson and Noblesville. Another disadvantage? Winchester hasn’t been in the top five since 2002 and hasn’t had a championship since 1997 – which makes this victory even sweeter.

They also had a new band director this year, Douglas Fletcher.

A little history: Fletcher took over as band director at Winchester after leaving Highland (which merged with Anderson last year). Fletcher dominated State Fair Band Day while at Highland, winning the competition four times in the last six years. And now it seems Fletcher has carried his magic over to Winchester.

Winchester swept the small band competition, scoring first place in all five categories (music, visuals, general effects, percussion and auxiliary) of the Caption Awards. Why is this important? Winning all five categories means Winchester is GOOD.

The school performed “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. It was interesting to see the elements of the marching band, guard and poetry come together, and was a risk that paid off.

Hands down, one of the most exciting things about Band Day was seeing Winchester students accept their award. All of the students and faculty were overcome with emotion and it was great to see a band truly appreciative of this honor. Fletcher certainly knows how to dazzle judges and it will be interesting to see if this small band will start a new streak of dominating the competition.

Great job to all the bands!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fighting Hunger at Fair

Want to lend a hand to others and score free stuff at the same time? Here is your chance!

Elanco and the Indiana State Fair are partnering up to fight hunger in the Indianapolis area by hosting a food drive Aug. 7. This partnership has resulted in a sweet deal- fairgoers who bring non-perishable food items to the fair that Sunday will not only help fight hunger, but they will also receive a free ticket for a return visit to the fair! (This ticket will be good for Aug. 15-19)

To give the drive a jumpstart, Indiana’s Family of Farmers has donated $5,000 worth of meat and dairy products! Officials are hoping to “stuff the truck” that will be stationed out at the fair and collect needed supplies for local pantries.

Don’t want to bring your cans to the fair? You have another chance to help out local pantries while getting in on some fair fun.

On Wednesday Aug. 3, donate non-perishable food items to Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Anyone who donates will receive a free ticket to the fair and a free lunch from the American Dairy Association of Indiana. A delicious grilled cheese in exchange for some canned foods- sounds like a great trade to me!

The food drive is part of Elanco’s Hunger Initiative and is a great way for the community to help stock local food pantries. Not only will fairgoers get free tickets and a chance to help the less fortunate, they will have a chance to learn more about food scarcity in the area. Organizations such as Gleaners, Second Helpings and Indiana’s Family of Farmers will line State Fair Blvd to provide information on helping the 300,000 people in Central Indiana who do not have enough food.

Do not miss your opportunity to give back to the Indianapolis community in a fun and easy way! Come donate canned goods to the food drive on Aug. 3 to get a free lunch and State Fair tickets – or make the fair and food donation one trip on Elanco Day Aug.7. Either way, your community support is appreciated!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Brewers' Cup: The Results

The results are in! This weekend’s Brewers’ Cup saw a record number of entries with over 1,000 hopefuls as far as Florida and even Texas. But it was Hoosiers that reined supreme! Both winners of the Guild Champion Brewery trophy and title holder of “Homebrewer of the Year” hail from Indiana.

Local brewer Michael Pearson, the top individual winner, won his second title by narrowly beating out his good friend Bill Ballinger. Talk about a bittersweet victory.

Terms like pale lager, porter and stout are all Greek to me. I will just stick with my Bud and Corona Light. But for those interested in home brewing, the competition is growing rapidly. This means more competition and just an overall fun experience for lovers of all things beer!

For more results, information and photographs, visit

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ready, Set, Brew

Nothing says summer like a nice cold beer in hand. But have you ever thought about what goes into making beer? I can’t say that I have either. Then, there are people like the ones judging this weekend’s Brewers’ Cup who can identify all the different flavors in different beers.

With 23 professional brewers entering 310 different beers and 764 home brewers entering 764 beers, The Indiana State Fair Brewers’ Cup is one of the largest competitions in the country. This weekend will mark the 13th annual competition at Farm Bureau Building on the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Certified Beer Judges from all over the country will taste test the best brews in the Hoosier state. Winners will have the opportunity to brew their winning recipe at a local pub, rights to a traveling banner, trophy and bragging rights.

Although the event isn’t open to the public, you can catch a glimpse into the world of home brewing during the fair when all entries will be on displayed and experts will be their to answer questions on all things brewing.

Judging begins today and goes through Saturday, July 9. Stay tuned for winners and results next week!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

2011 National Junior Shorthorn Show

Attending a cow competition is a lot more fun - and eventful- than I would have ever imagined. While watching the Livestock Judging Contest, I was transported into another world, where everyone wore blue jeans and even the smallest child knew what made a cow a winner.

At 8:00 a.m., the National Junior Shorthorn Show of 2011 is in full swing. Booths selling pancakes, jewelry, posters, kids' activities and more surrounded a white fence and the main arena area. Participants of other classes and family members lined up around the inside of the white fence to get the best possible look. Heifers and their owners stood stoically, proudly showing off their cows to the audience and judges.

What might surprise you is that this isn't just a show involving heifers and steers, there are many other things to do at the national competition. Since its start date on June 27, there have been contests for art, promotional posters, photography, speech, quiz bowl and even a beef cook-off.

This national show even has its own version of a pageant, in which candidates fight for the title of being Lassie Queen.

This six-day competition draws in people from all over the country. 23 states are being represented this year -including Florida, Minnesota, South Dakota and Texas.

And what makes a cow a winner? Judges say the cow worth the most profit based on strength and muscles will reign supreme.

For more info:

Posted by: Tanya Gabrish

Monday, June 20, 2011

Douglas David Paints "Farm to Fair"

The more I get to know Indiana artist Douglas David, the more I am impressed with his passion, talent and dedication.

He has won numerous awards for his paintings from Indiana Arts Commission, Lilly Endowment, Hoosier Salon and the Kokomo Art Association and his work has hung at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Richmond Museum of Art.

I was especially impressed with the discovery that Douglas David's artwork had been used as Indiana's license plate.

Douglas's design for the 2003-2008 Indiana license plate beat out 1400 entries and was chosen by popular vote to grace Indiana vehicles for five years..impressive!

Now, Douglas will put on a one-man show entitled "Farm to Fair," for the 2011 Indiana State Fair. Douglas's show will feature 60 of his amazing paintings, which all have been created exclusively for the fair. And let me tell you, each and every painting is fabulous.

Douglas began painting for this show on March 1st and hasn't stopped since. He is currently wrapping up his last few paintings and is thrilled about the upcoming show.

“I am excited to show almost a million people my interpretation of the fair,” said artist Douglas David. “My art will be important to people simply because they are Hoosiers.”

The show will be hung in the upper level of the magnificent Normandy Barn and will be open for all seventeen days of the fair.

Friday, June 10, 2011

"One Mic, Many Sounds"

If you've ever been curious about different music styles, the Diversity Music Fest is the event to attend! The Indiana Minority Business Magazine (IMBM) and Daddy Real Entertainment presents a concert that will satisfy all audiences, with its artists representing various genres, including jazz, Latin, pop, rock, country, gospel and R & B.

This concert is a unique event, offering audiences the one-of-a-kind opportunity to hear a variety of music under one roof. In fact, this concert is one of the few events of its kind in the Midwest. You must be 21 to attend and the concert is being held at the Indiana State Fair Blue Ribbon Pavilion, so you know it will be a good time! I personally have never attended a concert like this before, and I'm saddened that I will not get the chance to go.

This is a chance to see some of Indy's most talented artists for the great price of $11 ($26 for VIP), people! Perhaps the best thing about this concert is that the Diversity Music Fest will not only provide diverse bands, it will feature GOOD bands.

The concert line up boasts seven of Indy's top bands, including country group "Wildheart" and rock group "Remedy." Other bands include: Lamar Campbell and Spirit of Praise (gospel); Rob Dixon (jazz); Banda Pluma Blanca (Latin); Kontraband Muzik (pop) and Blue Soul Band (R&B).

Even though I can’t make it, I sure hope you can. Then write me back with your review. I’ll be anxious to hear what you thought.

For more information, visit

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What Better Way to kick off the Year of Soybeans than with Food!

It’s that time again. Time to start thinking about this year’s fair and all that comes with it. That includes all the tasty food! Today was the Indiana State Fair Signature Food Contest, and I was lucky enough to be there to watch and even taste. Since this year is putting Soybeans in the spotlight, each food entry utilized soybeans in different ways. From the feed fed to the cattle, tofu and soybean oil, it was a great way to showcase the versatility of the bean.

The contest started with the first round of judging from a panel that included First Lady Cheri Daniels, Indiana State Fair Queen Sara Alford and others who taste tested each and gave their input. From there, the fate of the winner is put in the hands of readers of the Indianapolis Star. It is there you can read up on all 5 of the entries and go vote for your favorite.

Look for the story and for voting to begin June 17 and you can continue to vote up until July 1. The winner – announced July8 – is named THE food of the fair will get bragging rights as well as a prime vending spot of Main Street during the fair!

Submitted by Julie Woodward