A visit to the State Fair....I don't think there is a more iconic mid-western summer image than that of kids at the fair. I was a ten year member of 4-H and even was able to show my grand champion gilt (that's a female pig that hasn't had piglets) one year at the State Fair. I was also able to represent my county in the Indiana State Fair Queen Pageant.
However, I hadn't been to the State Fair in a while. Actually, this was my first visit as an adult. Normally, I'm in school when the fair is going on, but luckily now that I'm staying home, I get to take my kids to things like this...on a weekday. (Insert happy dance!) The fair is still going on through August 23, 2015. While we didn't get to do everything that I wanted since we missed nap time and had a cranky girl, I did get to see a lot and here are my thoughts if you are planning a visit before the fair ends.
1. For the family on a budget.
We went yesterday when it was $2 Tuesday. Every adult got into the fair for $2 instead of the regular gate price of $12. Children age 5 and under are free everyday. For three adults (my mom, stepdad and myself) we were able to get into the fair and pay for parking for only $11! That's less than just admission would have costed for one of us on a regular day. Check out this page for upcoming discounts like $5 Foodie Friday this coming Friday!
For many, the fair is about the food. There are all of your fried pickles, corn dogs, and fried Oreos. But for the family on a budget, food at the fair can be a big expense. At one stand we saw, a corn dog and drink were $13! I just cannot justify giving a two-year old a $13 corn dog. I. Just. Can't. Do it. We packed a cooler full of water, peanut butter, lunch meat, bread, cookies, bananas, etc. and ate lunch at the car. While I was extremely impressed at how many nice places there were to sit around the fair to eat, It was nice that L got to move around a bit and we could relax during lunch. We still got some fair grub (Because you can't go to the fair without getting some junk, right?), but we didn't spend a fortune.
Other than the typical fair attractions like the animals and rides, here are a few attractions that I really enjoyed.
The Glass Barn: Sponsored by the Indiana Soybean Alliance, the Glass Barn exhibit educates visitors on soybean production in Indiana and the world. There is information concerning products that use soybeans and GMOs. While, I will admit that I haven't done enough research on my own about GMOs and their use, they do make me nervous. HOWEVER, I think it needs to be said that the actual farmers that use these crops are NOT villains, and you can clearly see this at the Glass Barn. They are simply doing what they feel is best for their farm and family. There were five featured farmers at the Glass Barn, and I was so impressed that three of them were women! Women play a much bigger role in Ag than I believe we give them credit for. My mom and I also completed a scavenger hunt here and got free hats. Free stuff from fairs is always a must.
The Garden Greenhouse: Next to the Normandy Barn, the Garden Greenhouse showcased ways that you can grow your own veggies and herbs using very little space. I think that this is an important exhibit. Being that the fair is in the "big city" of Indianapolis, many visitors are not country people. I think its important that people that live in urban areas are shown ways in which they can grow their own food to cut down on grocery bills, green house emissions, and help local pollinators. The Greenhouse also had a scavenger hunt that you could complete to earn a free take-out box of seeds. They had different sets to choose from like a taco garden, herb garden, flower garden or pizza garden. I chose the pizza garden set which included seeds for tomatoes, basil, banana peppers and oregano. I even learned that the first vegetable grown in space was a potato. Maybe they called it Spudnik! Sorry, I couldn't help myself.
The Livestock Nursery: Baby cows. Need I say more? Probably not, but a few things to mention about the nursery are that the cows actually give birth where visitors can see. There are even bleachers so you can watch if you want. Also, ever since I read The Dirty Life, my husband has been teasing me about getting a milk cow. And while there is a part of me that thinks it would be cool, I also realize it would be a tremendous amount of work. After visiting the nursery, I realized that having a milk cow could be even more work than I realized. Did you know that one cow can produce up to 8 gallons of milk a day?! If you had your own family milk cow, you would not only have to milk it at least twice a day, you have to find a way to use all of that milk because it is not currently legal to sell the extra raw milk for human consumption.
Indiana Beekeepers Exhibit: Visit the Purdue Extension Ag/Hort Building to get to meet some Indiana beekeepers. They had a bee mascot that you could get your children's picture with, free samples, actual bee frames on display, and you could buy honey made right here in Indiana. We even found honey for sale from a beekeeper in our little town! While I was hoping for a bit more information for aspiring beekeepers, this is an exhibit that I still think you need to check out.
Visit Indiana Harvest Pavilion: In the Harvest Pavilion, there were several different "sculptures" made out of canned food. And while the Minions were a big hit, we were really excited to see Bob and Larry from VeggieTales. Also located in this building was a booth for the Indiana Artisans which is an organization that showcases "Indiana's best." You can read about the organization here. This building is a great stop for the Lego lover too. There are tables where kids can stop to build something of their own, or see a full farm built out of Legos.
These are just a few of my favorite attractions and exhibits from the day. Overall, we had a great day while not breaking the bank. The Indiana State Fair really is a must-see event for the family looking for that quintessential, wholesome family summer experience.