I love the Indiana State Fair. I love it so much that I start budgeting for it months in advance. The day the program is published, I study it to determine which days I want to go. Throughout the Fair, I am thinking about what evenings I have free to go and check it out. Prior to living in Indiana, I had never gone to a State Fair. I had maybe once or twice gone to county fairs. When I was dating my husband, he used to work at the Indiana State Fair for the Indiana Pork Producers. After work, I would take the Fair Train down to the Fairgrounds and hang out with him a little, enjoy the Fair a lot, and then ride home with him afterwards. I was hooked (on him and on the State Fair)!
At first, going to the State Fair meant completely indulging in all foods fried and sugared. Funnel cakes, corndogs, pork tenderloins, elephant ears, meat on sticks, fried veggies, fried potatoes in a variety of forms, cotton candy, fudge, ice cream. I was a definite over-indulger and the State Fair was a little slice of heaven.
A few years ago, I discovered that the State Fair had a lot more to offer than just food and rides. Crazy, I know! But there was a day that I went with a girlfriend- who is a long time Fair Fan- and she took me around to discover all that the State Fair really had to offer. We walked and walked and walked and saw a lot of stuff and got a lot of free stuff and then the day was over and I realized that I hadn’t really eaten much at all!
I’m now at a point where I strive to make healthy choices each and every day. For some people, being healthy and going to the State Fair just don’t go hand in hand. I disagree. And I think the State of Indiana and the State Fair disagree as well. Yes, you will still find deep fried oreos and snickers and butter. You can choose the country fried bacon or deep fried corndogs for lunch. You can choose to spend your time riding the Tram from point to point and then sitting to watch demonstrations or entertainment. Or, you can choose to make it a healthy living State Fair experience.
Yesterday, my friend and I took my kids to the State Fair. We were there for 11 hours. We ate relatively healthy and we were very active.
We started with breakfast at the Dairy Bar. Bagels with cream cheese and chocolate milk for a treat. We walked over to visit the Governor Mitch Daniels’ INShape Indiana SummerFit Plaza. It’s open this opening weekend of the State Fair and there are demonstrations- where you are encouraged to participate- of exercise and activity from various groups. We picked up a Fair Fit Challenge map- which became a very handy tool. I didn’t wear my pedometer but with the map- which told me how many steps from point to point on the Fair Fit Challenge path- helped me determine that I took more than 8,000 steps at the State Fair in 11 hours (not counting steps in exhibits and buildings and all the running I did getting my kids to the bathroom).
We walked everywhere we went. I also hauled the kids in a wagon. We walked to the Bridge to Japan exhibit. We walked to the Main Street Stage to watch ice sculptors. We walked to the St. Vincent Health Fair and picked up lots of information about services offered and ways to stay healthy. We walked to the Clarian Health Zone (and plan to go back another day to participate in everything offered). We stopped by Hook’s Drug Store and the 4 of us shared a root beer float. We walked to the Pioneer Our Land Pavilion. We walked to the Ball State Ag/Hort Building and enjoyed some melon from the Farmers’ Market Cafe. I also enjoyed 2 glasses of icy cold tomato juice, fixed up with tobasco and celery salt. A ride on the ferris wheel, a walk up to the Dock Dogs and visiting one of the 4H buildings, a walk to the DNR building. We walkedto the FFA Pavilion and visited the Food for Thought exhibit. We walked to Goat Mountain and the FFA barn. We opted not to do putt-putt this year- but that’s yet another active thing to do with kids. The FFA Pavilion also has a great playspace for kids and a school bus they can climb up in with additional play areas around it.
We walked to the Farm Bureau Building. We walked to Pioneer Village (made our annual visit to the Coppersmith to order cookie cutters made of the kids’ handprints) where we sampledmaple syrup and sorghum. I also enjoyed a very yummy homemade sorghum cookie with oats and raisins. We walked back to the Farm Bureau Building to see a friend perform in the talent contest. We each ate a corndog. We walked to Riley Fun Park and walked through Little Hands on the Farm. We walked to the Clarian Dance for Health stage- and we even danced in the aisles a little bit!
I earned extra steps when I had to backtrack (walking, of course) from the Clarian Dance for Health Stage all the back to Little Hands on the Farm and through Pioneer Village, searching for our lost stuffed frog. He was never found- but the Mothers’ Milk Bank Lactation Station came through by letting me play Sink the Rattle and win some new stuffed pals for my kids. Then Iwalked back to meet up with the family. Then we walked to see the llamas, we walked to see the Daily Parade, we walked to the Dairy Bar for grilled cheese and chocolate milk.
As we were leaving, there was a group doing Zumba at the SummerFit Plaza. I was hot and tired and sweaty and had been walking all over the Fairgounds. But there was something about the music and the energy… I had to stop and dance at least one number. The kids found it very entertaining.
What it all comes down to is CHOICE. I can choose to have a State Fair experience that is focused on consuming unhealthy, junky, sugary, fried foods or I can choose to find the healthier options like fresh fruit, salads, grilled cheese, and milk. I can choose to sit, ride the tram, and limit myself or I can choose to walk and move and stay active for the entire day. How positive my State Fair experience is- well, it’s completely my CHOICE. I choose the things I do and see, I choose what and how much I eat, and I choose just how active and healthy my day will be.
Oh! And another great way to enjoy the State Fair with some built in portion control is to go on Tuesdays. This year, both Tuesdays are $2 Tuesdays. You can get into the State Fair for $2 with a voucher from Turkey Hill and you can find smaller portions of favorite State Fair foods for just $2 each!
So go to the Indiana State Fair! Find the ways you can be active and make the healthier choices. You just might find a lot more to our State Fair than fried food and fast rides!
Liz received complementary goods or services from the organization(s) that was the subject of this blog post in exchange for writing this post.