Monday, July 30, 2012

Great Indiana State Fair: 17 days packed with fun

There’s a reason to come to all 17 days of the 2012 Indiana State Fair! We understand that you probably can’t do that, but no matter what days you choose to join us, we know you can find lots of ways to enjoy this great Hoosier tradition.

This year the State Fair is offering more entertainment than ever before, including loads of daily activities, shows and exhibits. There are plenty of ways to enjoy time with your family and make some memories, and best of all, you can do it on a budget! Many of these attractions are FREE with gate admission.

Now I am a dog-lover, so I am looking forward to seeing the SuperDogs. This is more than your average dog show because it is a cross between a theatrical Broadway show and a competitive sporting event. The dogs are performers, capable of making an audience laugh with their antics, and they are also athletes, able to run, jump and retrieve. A couple of the featured dogs are Slinger, a Rottweiler who is a master at card tricks, and Leap, an Ibizan Hound who is the world record-holder as the highest jumping dog, clearing almost 6 feet. You’re sure to have a ‘doggone’ good time at this show!

Here's an excerpt from one of their shows, "Woof Rock 'n Roll":

Did you know Indiana and Italy have cultural ties? You can learn all about it in the Ciao Italia exhibit that will be open daily in the International Pavilion. There is so much to do in this exhibit: listen to Italian opera, get an up-close look at the new IndyCar, relax in a Venetian plaza, see a marionette show and much more. I’m personally excited to test my skills at Bocce ball.

This year our Artist in Residence is Harold Lee Miller, and he is a master at capturing the personality of fairs. Miller’s pictures vibrantly tell the story of fairs from livestock shows to fair food to princess contests. The photos feature the young and the old and express the joy, intensity and passion of fair participants and spectators alike. You can check out his exhibit in the Normandy Barn daily from 1 to 9 p.m.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Your family can also go on the Wonder Trail together, gather answers to the questions and earn a prize. You can check out daily concerts and shows at the Free Stage like REO Speedwagon, Easton Corbin, The Ohmies and David Crowder. You can interact with farm animals in the Livestock Nursery. You can see the Daily Parade as it goes down Main Street. The list goes on and on!

There is truly something for everyone to enjoy at the Indiana State Fair. Click here to view our Daily Highlights calendar.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pepsi Coliseum Renovation: the timeline, the new arena & ways to get involved

Between hockey games, concerts and livestock shows, the Pepsi Coliseum holds countless memories for Hoosiers.  Now, as we approach the “Year of Dairy Cows” at the Indiana State Fair, we prepare for our last fair with the “old” Coliseum.

Construction will begin October 29 on the new Coliseum complex. When the new Coliseum opens in time for the 2014 State Fair, visitors will find the building’s interior to be completely gutted and transformed with a new video scoreboard, a modern sound system and double-tiered seating.  Renovations will refresh but maintain the stadium’s traditional outside appearance. 

Thankfully, the construction of a new, 20,000-square-foot arena that will connect to the Coliseum’s south side will be complete in July 2013, allowing for business as usual at next year’s State Fair.  This means the livestock shows and entertainment that usually take place inside the Coliseum can utilize the new arena at the 2013 fair. Once Coliseum renovations are complete, the new arena will allow concurrent events to take place inside both facilities throughout the year.

Here’s a great look at the building’s past, present and future:

To help Hoosiers say farewell to the original 73-year-old Coliseum, fair officials are hosting “Denim & Dirt Kickin’ Up the Hoosier Spirit” this Saturday, July 28 from 7-10 p.m. 

The evening features entertainment centered around Coliseum history such as live music by Beatles tribute band, Forever…the Tribute, interactive areas spotlighting Coliseum events and a live auction of everything from Coliseum Dirt to an Indiana Pacers championship banner. 

The public can send an email to Michelle Leavell at to order tickets for this event $50 each or $1,000 for a 10-person table. Guests may also purchase tickets at the door.  Each guest will receive a complimentary admission ticket good for one day at the Indiana State Fair, Aug. 3-19.

All proceeds from this event go to the Indiana State Fair Foundation for renovation expenses.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

“Udder” excitement for Year of Dairy Cows

If you have ever visited the Dairy Bar at the Indiana State Fair for a creamy grilled cheese sandwich and a cold milkshake, you already appreciate the wonders of the dairy industry. But what you may not know is the dairy industry also plays a vital role in Indiana’s economy, in addition to our daily diets. This year the State Fair is celebrating all things dairy in partnership with the American Dairy Association (ADA) of Indiana during the “Year of Dairy Cows.” What a good reason to indulge in an ice cream cone!

There are more than 1,500 dairy farms in Indiana housing 176,000 cows. These farms produce about 3.5 billion pounds of milk, accounting for nearly $500 million in milk production each year. Indiana also ranks second nationally in ice cream production. I don’t know about you, but I’m a proud Hoosier right now!

Awesome statistics like these call for awesome celebratory exhibits and activities at the fair. Have you ever milked a cow before? At Cowtown USA in the Family Fun Park, you can try your hand at it! While you’re there, you can also take part in creating cheese, butter and ice cream to sample.

You can satisfy your dairy craving with the new “Moo Chew” meal that consists of a delicious lemon chiller milkshake and a grilled sandwich with American cheese in between two slices of Pepper Jack on sourdough bread. I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from people who’ve tried them!

Here are some other activities you can take part in as part of the “Year of Dairy Cows”:

·     Culinary Contests (Ellison Bakery Home & Family Arts Building): A Kids’ Favorite Dairy Smoothie Contest, Saturday, Aug. 4 and Sunday, Aug. 5, for school-age children and a Big Cookie Decorating Contest, Aug. 4 open to everyone will combine fun and flavor with the dairy theme.

·     LegenDairy Marketplace (DuPont Food Pavilion): This booth offers information on the powerful package of nutrients in milk. There will be two interactive touch screen computers with a chance to win a year's worth of free dairy. ADA will be handing out grocery list notepads, recipes, nutrition info and there will be a Q&A area staffed with nutrition experts.

·     Fuel Up to Play 60 tent (Family Fun Park): This kids’ activity teaches youngsters why it’s important to eat nutrient-packed foods and exercise for 60 minutes per day. Kids can run through an agility ladder, build muscles by lifting weights and check out the 'toss and tell' activity ball that will help educate kids on the importance of nutrition. Kids will also receive some Fuel Up to Play 60 goodies!

·     “Celebrating Dairy Cows” interactive kiosk (Mac Reynolds Barn): This exhibits features facts about dairy cows and the history of the Reynolds farm in Fishers. There are also cow-themed games and photo opportunities.

·     Free “Cow Cup” (Hot Wisconsin Cheese stand between the Ball State Ag/Hort Building and the DuPont Food Pavilion): Mondays ONLY from 9 a.m. to noon, patrons receive a free 32 oz. souvenir “Cow Cup” of soda with the purchase of any cheese item.

·     Cattle Barn (West Pavilion): The ADA of Indiana offers displays on modern dairy farming, cow comfort, robotic milking and the six major dairy breeds.

·     Dairy cow exhibits (Normandy Barn):  Information about Ellen, the world champion milk-producing cow from 1975-1992, will be on display. A carousel milking exhibit will teach visitors about advancements in the dairy industry, and wall panels will provide information about the six breeds of dairy cows.

Also make sure you meet the ADA’s mascot, Buttercup, while you’re at the fair!

We hope to see you out at the fair this year Aug. 3-19. You’re sure to have a “MOO-velous” time!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Key to Safe Teen Driving

I had a lot of firsts with my little Ford Focus today. I did figure-eights around a parking lot so fast that I squealed my tires (fun). I literally floored my gas pedal and took off like a stunt driver in an action movie (more fun). I had a grown man scream at me across a parking lot, “Are you a hooker?!” (I’ll explain that one later). And it was all part of the best driver’s education experience I’ve ever had.

I took a class at the Indiana State Fairgrounds as part of the Key to Safe Teen Driving Program that is put on by the Mid-Ohio School. The Mid-Ohio School is an innovative driving school that focuses on providing hands-on experience while teaching defensive driving techniques. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year olds, and that’s the motivation behind this program.

At the first station they had a “Skid Car” where the back-end was lifted off the ground by another set of wheels. I took that car around a cone at 15 mph and completely spun out (my tread marks are still on the asphalt to prove it). But now I have a better idea of how to handle my car when I lose traction on a patch of ice. The key is quick hands and to fix your eyes in the direction that you want your car to go.

We got to practice wet braking at the second station, and this was my favorite. I floored the gas pedal for about 100 feet and then slammed on my brakes once I hit the puddle they made in the parking lot. Your car can stop quicker than you think on wet pavement.

At the final station, we practiced emergency lane changes. I got to floor it again (yay!) and then swerve hard at the last minute in the direction the instructor pointed. I know I’ve been in situations where an animal has run into the road in front of me or another car has drifted into my lane, so this will certainly come in handy.

Now I know you’re wondering why someone would ask me if I was a “hooker.” It has to do with your hand positioning on the steering wheel. The ideal way to grip the wheel is at 9 and 3, like on a clock. You’re not supposed to palm the wheel. You’re not supposed to steer with one hand. And I quickly found out you are not supposed to “hook” your hand behind the wheel and grip it from the back, like this:

The Mid-Ohio instructors will be at the fairgrounds Tuesday, July 10 for another full day of sessions, and spots are still open. It’s a totally free program, and teens will learn so much from it (and so will parents). You get a certificate of completion at the end that is quite attractive to insurance companies and may even lower your premium.

You can register here:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Brewers Show-off their Best Batches of Beer

I would never consider myself to be a beer connoisseur.  To be honest, before this evening I couldn’t tell you the difference between a porter and a pilsner to save my life.  So needless to say, I was a little out of my element at tonight’s awards dinner for the Indiana State Fair Brewers’ Cup Competition.  

The ceremony wrapped up the two-day contest where amateur and professional brewers from all over the country submitted their best batches of beer to a panel of over 80 judges.  These judges tasted and scored 1,124 beers, a new record for the Brewers’ Cup.

Tonight the judges honored the winners of each of the 23 divisions for homebrewers and professionals plus the contest’s overall winners.

Zionsville’s Tom Wallbank won the title “Homebrewer of the Year” with three first place awards and one second place award.  

For the second year in a row, Bier Brewery walked away with the “Brewers of Indiana Guild Champion Brewery” trophy.

Ryan Connor of Bier Brewery credits his older brother Darren for being the brains behind Bier’s tasty brews.

“This feels great,” Darren Connor said right after winning the trophy. “I’m going to Disney World now!”