Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Discovery Hall Open for Business

Remember the old Girls’ Dormitory at the Fairgrounds? If you do, then – no offense – you’ve been around a while. The third building in the Fairgrounds’ 4-H Education Complex is four decades removed from its heyday and has been closed since 1990. Not anymore.

The new “Discovery Hall” is open for business and conducting business every day thanks to its three new office tenants: the Indiana Board of Animal Health, Marion County Purdue Extension Service and Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District. Today’s Open House officially started a new chapter in the building’s history, five years and $5 million dollars since the first phase of a four-phase renovation began.

The three groups’ offices occupy the first two floors of the building while the third floor is used to house 4-H kids and activities during the State Fair and other groups year-round. The renovation completes a long-term goal of reopening the entire complex, which also includes Centennial Hall (formerly the Boys’ Dormitory) and the Exhibit Hall, both renovated and reopened in 2004.

The three organizations all love their new surroundings, and we love the fact that the building is not just providing essential meeting and office space, but also producing earned revenue (about $200,000/year) that we can use toward other operational needs. This is your classic “win-win” scenario. And who doesn’t love a winner?

Submitted by Andy Klotz

Friday, January 13, 2012

Coliseum Renovation Takes Big Step Forward!

Have you heard the news? The Pepsi Coliseum is getting a facelift!

That’s right, after 70 years of hockey, horses and hog shows – not to mention presidents, Pacers, boxing and Beatlemania – the Pepsi Coliseum is going to be brought up to modern standards. The details aren’t all set yet, but the plan is to close the grand old building this fall and cut the ribbon on the updated version in time for the 2014 State Fair now that the State Fair Commission has approved a resolution to move forward with design work.

How much will it cost? What will it look like? What about all the events that take place in there now?

Those are all good questions, and we don’t have all the answers. Not yet, anyway.

A financing package is still being put into place and we should get all those numbers squared away soon. Last fall, a Program & Scheduling committee was formed to examine the best way to reschedule all the State Fair events that normally take place in the Coliseum, so all the horse pulls, hitch competitions and other things will happen, but we can’t tell you where just yet.

As for the Coliseum’s new look, there won’t be one on the outside. The building’s “shell” will remain the same, just a little shinier … like when it was first erected in 1939. Inside, though, should be a spectacular improvement. Check these out…

What a glorious sight! Don’t get me wrong, though. The new building won’t have skyboxes with parquet floors and gold-lined drink holders. It will simply be a modern, comfortable, all-purpose arena with seating for 7,000-9,000 people depending on the type of event. That’s something that Indy doesn’t have right now, so we expect the new building to be even busier than the current one. It will also be the new site for all the fair’s headline entertainment – a much better use of resources than paying for a permanent roof over the stage in the grandstand.

Design plans are going forward and a construction manager will soon be selected. Stay tuned on the progress. This longtime dream is starting to become a reality, and it feels great!

Submitted by Andy Klotz

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Indiana On the Fly - this weekend!

I'm no fisherman, but the thought of standing in a cool stream in the middle of the mountains on a warm spring day sure sounds appealing! So maybe I should take my own advice and head out to this Saturday's “Indiana On the Fly” fly fishing show in the State Fairgrounds' Ag/Hort building.

There will be all kinds of great gear, experts and clinics to check out, including well known outdoorswoman, cook and author Georgia Pelligrini. Here's a little preview, in her own words:

My passion for good food, for simple food, began at an early age, on a boulder by the side of a creek as I caught my trout for breakfast. I grew up on the same land my great-grandfather owned and worked. This place is called Tulipwood, and there my great-aunt could name every species of plant; my grandmother made meatloaf, balsamic vinaigrette and egg dip with an intoxicating savoir-faire; and my father raised honeybees and quince trees with the care typically devoted to a newborn.

This connection to the land and the deep satisfaction one gets from manual labor stayed with me through college and even during the years that I strayed onto the path of least resistance and into the world of finance.

After a bit of soul searching I decided to leave the cubicle world behind and enrolled in culinary school (French Culinary Institute). I soon began to work in farm to table restaurants in the U.S. (Gramercy Tavern and Blue Hill at Stone Barns) and France (La Chassagnette), driving heavy farm equipment, and harvesting both meat and plants for dinner. I found that I was most interested in the foragers and fig collectors and salami makers that arrived to the restaurants with their goods, and soon befriended them and went on journeys with them, through the woods, into curing rooms, and over the rolling hills of olive oil vineyards. My first book “Food Heroes,” tells the story of sixteen culinary artisans across the world, who are fighting to preserve their food traditions.

It was during all this that I decided it was time to really get at the heart of where our food comes from and head to the source—Mother Nature. I bought a shotgun and set my sites on the cutting edge of culinary creativity intent on pushing the boundaries of American gastronomy.

The result of these adventures will be a book called “Girl Hunter” arriving in Fall 2011. I currently roam the world hunting and gathering, tasting good food, and meeting the good people who make it. In any given city, on any given day, you can find me posted up in a café with my shotgun and a glass of rosé.

You can also follow my adventures on Twitter or my Facebook Page!

Submitted by Andy Klotz