Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Indiana State Fair: It's The Unique Things

One of the things I love most about the Indiana State Fair is that you never know what you're going to see or experience.  I think that's the main reason why I go to the Fair more than once and why I wish I could be there every day.  You never know what you're going to discover, happen upon, or be surprised by!

Every year, i enjoy watching the progression of the scultping of cheese into a fabulous cheese sculpture.  Early in the Fair, the artist is there, working on the piece.  We got there when she was carving part of the mild cheddar base and we got to enjoy several samples of this work of art!  I asked the artist if she ever imagined that she'd be a cheese sculptor when she grew up.  She laughed and said she knew she was going to be an artist but had never dreamed of worked with cheese.

Sometimes, you just happen upon things that aren't quite right and can leave you giggling a little bit.  One cool thing at the Fair is the Recipe Trail.  Various places around the Fairgrounds are little recipe cards from area farmers or producers.  It's done by the Indiana Humanities Council, if I remember correctly.  Typically, you find a recipe near something to dow ith food- near a set up for information on beef producers in Indiana, for example.

We found this sign to be placed in a rather unfortunate spot.

Everyone knows that Fair Food is an important part of the Fair experience.  The great thing about the Indiana State Fair is a special cost savings day called $2 Tuesday.  I love it!  Vendors who participate offer something for $2- a corn dog or a smaller portion of soemthing they regularly serve.  It's a great way to get people to try things they normally wouldn't and a great way to attract new customers.  It also meant that I paid a lot more attention to food yesterday because I wanted to see all the offerings. 

This sign made me giggle.

Another unique thing about the State Fair is that there are vendors who sell things I never would have imagined.  There's the Expo Hall with vendors selling all kinds of products that will make your life easier.  You can register for all kinds of giveaways and pick up all kinds of swag.  There are vendors who come back year after year and have a solid reputation for the quality of their work.  There are a few leather vendors who sell boots, wallets, purses, and other leather goods.

Other leather goods like this handy belt attachment.

If you aren't Fair-familiar, this sign would be terribly confusing.

2 years ago, I wrote about a disappointing cheese experience at the Fair.  The Dairy Bar is a tradition for many Fair goers- grilled cheese, spoon thick milkshakes, and the best ice cold chocolate milk.  In 2009, they introduced a new sandwich that I was very excited about- gouda on wheat bread.  Except it was the least gouda-like cheese I'd ever seen or tasted.  This year, another new sandwich was introduced and I am in full on forgiveness mode!  This is pepperjack on sourdough and this is one of the yummiest things I've ever had!  Just look at that beautiful cheese!

Bees, bees, bees.  Who would think that bees would have a place at a State Fair?  Honey is a big deal in Indiana and visiting the Ag/Hort Building (Agriculture/Horticulture) means checking out honey vendors!  My kids love the honey lady at our Farmer's Market each week and I love this annual visit to the honey vendors at the Fair!  Last year, one of the honey producers introduced a new product- jalapeno whipped honey.  The day I heard about it, I didn't have the money to buy any but planned to go back for it.  Went back a couple of days later and it was sold out.  This year, I bought 2 large jars of it on the second day of the Fair and when I went back yesterday, the large jars had sold out!

Visiting honey vendors means checking out the bees, of course.

These guys made me smile.  They saw my camera and started begging me to take their picture.  Gotta love "Saying Cheese!"

I'm going to do an entire post on the Peking Acrobats because the act was truly amazing.  It was a different show from last year but the feats of strength, focus, and balance were incredible.  However, there was one act that, while amazing and awe-inspiring, also had a few moments of body positioning that was a little... unique.

And sometimes, the unique things I come across at the State Fair are powerful and meaningful.  This is a piece of the World Trade Center.  This beam has been visiting various parts of our state.  On Sept 11 of this year, a memorial is going to be dedicated in Indianapolis.  Project 9/11 Indianapolis.  Being so close to something so... powerful... was something I won't forget. 

I'll be posting several times today with different aspects of my kid-free, all day adventure at the Fair yesterday! Stay tuned for more!



Rebecca said...

The cheese sculpture, I want to eat it. I love cheese...and that grilled cheese sandwich, I want to eat that. I love cheese.

Around here we have this place called Fast Eddies and they serve Hot Chick on a Stick. Delicious!

Alison said...

I remember your grilled-cheese disappointment, lol. Glad to know they've redeemed themselves.

Our county fair had a live bee colony every year, too. It was pretty much the only reason I went into that building (I think it was some boring, technical stuff about animal husbandry or something...)

Long live fair food! :D

Nej said...

So many comments, so little time! :-)

1) you HAVE to come to Iowa! (I'm an Iowa gal, displaced to Nebraska for the time being.) Their state fair is in August, and I LOVE going!! The butter sculptures are amazing. I want to come see yours in cheese though. I love cheese...and have never felt the pull to eat the butter cow. A cheese cow though, let me at it! :-)

2) The people putting the recipe trail in front of that display didn't stop for a second and go "hmmmm" ??? :-)

3) Pretty much any cheese on sourdough would have me drooling. Well...maybe I should wait until I read about the gouda debacle before I say that?

Garret said...

Cheese sculpture = amazing!

Unfortunate recipe near the horse display was amusing! Did you taste any?

The sign 4-her's only... was terribly confusing and you did nothing to help me with that. I'm still confused.

That grilled cheese looked so yummy!

The Acrobats... kinky.

Kristen said...

Hi! I just wanted to let you know that Indiana's Family of Farmers in charge of the Recipe Trail. The last stop is at Indiana Humanities' Food for Thought booth. It's a lot of fun--glad you enjoyed it!

Indiana's Family of Farmers also donates a pound of food to Indiana food banks for everyone who completes it!