Friday, June 29, 2012

Udderly Delicious Treats at the Signature Food Contest

Just like the majority of 20-something gals, I have a soft spot for sweets, but my real guilty pleasure is cheese.  Yes, I am that girl at Italian restaurants asking the waiter to shred a mountain of parmesan onto her pasta. It’s not my fault cheese makes everything better.

During the Indiana State Fair you can usually find me by the Dairy Bar, so needless to say I am eager to celebrate the Year of Dairy Cows.  The State Fair’s focus on dairy specialties made today’s Signature Food Contest my kind of heaven.
The contest featured six mouth-watering, dairy creations, ranging from fried cheese to ice cream sundaes.  A panel of eight judges sampled every signature item and shared their opinions on each, including State Fair Queen Erika Burghardt.

Don’t you wish you were there? Luckily, I was able to sneak a few bites. For the rest of you, start preparing your waistlines now because all of the following food masterpieces will be sold every day of the State Fair.
Spaghetti Ice Cream- LT Concessions Inc.
Spaghetti shaped Italian ice cream with strawberry ‘tomato sauce,’ shaved white chocolate ‘cheese’ and chocolate ‘meat balls’

Cheese Squared- Coffman Concessions                      
Chipotle, Creamy Spinach or Garlic Herb cream cheese wrapped in Swiss cheese, then lightly breaded and fried

Moo Chew Meal- American Dairy Association
A bright, refreshing lemon chiller milkshake with a sourdough grilled cheese sandwich loaded with American and pepper jack cheese.

Micro Beer Cheese Sauce- Barto’s Catering        
Local micro brew fused beer cheese sauce served on either fresh cut fries, hefty burger or on the side for dipping

Caramel Corn Sundae- Baskin Robbins              
Vanilla ice cream with hot caramel topping, caramel corn, fresh whipped cream, nuts and a cherry

Blue Ribbon Cannoli- Bakerman Concessions                 
A crisp Italian cookie shell filled with sweet, whipped ricotta cheese, whipping cream, powdered sugar, mini chocolate chips and dried berries, finished off with a powdered sugar sprinkle
Even though fairgoers can try all of these dairy snacks, there can only be one winner. At the beginning of July log on to or to read the judges’ comments and vote for your favorite signature food item.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Half Price Books Clearance Sale

As a journalism major, I love books and entertainment media. As a recent college graduate, I am stingy with my money. You may be able to relate to one or both of these characterizations. So on a normal day, Half Price Books is paradise. If there is anything better than paradise, a Half Price Books clearance sale is that. Yes, it somehow gets even better than half price. I know. Breathe.

This weekend, the Indiana State Fair is hosting the Half Price Books clearance sale, where everything is $3 or less! Looking for a good summer read or two? Well, you can get two books here for less than you can buy one new book at a store. You can also browse through the hundreds and hundreds of CDs spanning all genres and decades. This is particularly great for me because I love listening to embarrassing 90s music, and everyone else apparently loves getting rid of that stuff as quickly as possible. (Why people don't cherish that "Big Willie Style" CD is a mystery to me.) Last time I was at Half Price Books, I found Britney Spears' album, "Oops, I Did It Again." You better believe I bought it. And you better believe I blared it unashamedly on the way home with the windows down.

So drop by the Ag/Hort building at the Indiana State Fair any time today until 7 p.m., Saturday June 23 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday June 24 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. As if the bargain prices weren't enough, there is also the opportunity for free stuff! (Keep breathing.) The first 200 customers each day will receive a FREE reusable tote bag.

Click here for more information. See you at the sale!

- Katie, State Fair intern

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Miss Indiana State Fair: Beyond the Crown

Before sitting down with Miss Indiana State Fair, Erika Burghardt, I felt a little envious.  I knew right after our conversation she would begin her trip to Castleton Square Mall to take advantage of the $1,000 shopping spree reward given to every state fair queen.  What girl wouldn’t be a little jealous?

After just a few minutes of chatting with Erika, my envy quickly melted.  Not only was I inspired by her passion for 4-H and the fair, her gracious spirit proved why she stood out among the 87 other contestants at the queen pageant last August. 

“I watch the YouTube video of the moment I was crowned over and over again and every time I still get nervous when they are about to announce my name,” Erika said. “At that moment all I wanted to do was hug every person I saw. I still am just so grateful.”

Erika’s enthusiasm for the state fair stems from her 10-year 4-H membership.  After spending eight years in the Swine Barn and being named a 4-H Record Achievement Recipient, she calls the 4-H community her second family. 

“It is just one of those things you have to experience for yourself,” Erika said. “This organization has done so much for me and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it. That’s why I feel so lucky to have this opportunity to give back to 4-H and the fair.”

And give back she will. Between her 44 appearances at county fairs, festivals and other fair promotional events, Erika will spend at least four days a week traveling all over Indiana during June and July.  Once Aug. 3 rolls around, her duty as the fair’s Official Hostess becomes a 24/7 commitment.  

Erika says her summer is completely dedicated to the fair.  She is excited about the opportunity to promote the fair and 4-H, but is most looking forward to the connection she will make with each person she meets.

“I want everyone I interact with to feel special,” she said. “When I was little I always looked up to Miss Tippecanoe County. Now it’s my turn to be that role model for other little girls.”

Friday, June 8, 2012

Helping out High Schools during Coliseum Renovation

Like many other high school seniors, my commencement ceremony took place in our stuffy, overcrowded school gymnasium.  But size issues force large graduating classes from high schools like Carmel and North Central to move to bigger venues for graduation.  This year, the Pepsi Coliseum hosted graduation for nine Indianapolis high schools.

Kelsey Hall, a 2012 Lawrence Central graduate, said the Coliseum allowed her graduation to be spacious and organized.

“The Pepsi Coliseum is great because there is more than enough room for family and friends to attend,” Hall said. “I don’t think my graduation would have gone as smoothly if we were crammed into our gym.”

However, the graduation traditions of these high schools will be put on hold for the next two years as the Fairgrounds begins the renovation process of the 73-year-old Pepsi Coliseum this October.  Don’t worry; the Coliseum will maintain its traditional outside appearance, while the entire inside will be gutted and transformed making it modernized and more visitor-friendly.  The renovation will be complete in time for the 2014 State Fair. 

Fortunately, The Fairgrounds is making sure everyone still has a home for graduation.  Not wanting to cause any extra work for high school administrators, Fairgrounds staff members took the reigns and began making commencement arrangements several months ago for each school.  Due to the Fairgrounds partnership with the Indiana Convention and Visitors Association, most schools are expected to head downtown to use the Indiana Convention Center. 

Before then, three more high schools will be showing up at the Fairgrounds in cap and gown.  Keep in mind seniors, you are a part the last classes to graduate from the original Pepsi Coliseum!

On May 24 Carmel was the first high school to hold its last commencement ceremony at the original Pepsi Coliseum.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Day of Service

Indiana State Fair employees traveled to the Marion County Fairgrounds to help them get ready for the county fair. Workers painted, cleaned and gardened to prepare the fairgrounds for the June 22-30 fair.

Below are some photos of employees hard at work!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Trotting for Charity

Who wouldn’t love a horse named “Drop it Like it’s Hot” or “I Shot the Sheriff”? These two horses, along with about 350 others from across the country, took part in the Indianapolis Charity Horse Show this week where they gracefully walked, cantered and trotted for a good cause.

While I don’t know much about horse showmanship, I could certainly appreciate the grace that both the horses and the riders displayed. And the excitement and passion the spectators from the various stables showed was contagious. What an atmosphere!

“Everyone is here because of a love for the equine horse,” said Judy McManama, secretary for the Indianapolis Charity Horse Show. “There’s a real partnership between horse and driver. In no other sport do you deal with another entity that has its good days and bad days just like the rider. It’s wonderful to watch when that connection comes together.”

There are so many things that make this special. McManama said this is a great event because it supports the horse industry, brings business to Indianapolis and benefits a good charity.

The local nonprofit donates its proceeds to Indiana Children’s Wish Fund, and they grant wishes to Indiana children between the ages of 3 and 18 who suffer from life-threatening illnesses. McManama said that over the past 15 years, the Indianapolis Charity Horse Show has donated between $150,000 and $200,000 to the Wish Fund.

The event continues through today with a silent auction and free shows at 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Come meet “Drop it Like it’s Hot” for yourself!

The horse named “I Shot the Sheriff” does a victory lap after winning the Class 21 competition for Saddlebred Country Pleasure Driving. About 350 horses and their riders compete in the three-day show.