The Indiana State Fair begins today and runs through August 17th. Over the last several weeks we’ve been hearing so much about what the fair has to offer this year, so WFYI’s Christopher Ayers went there this afternoon to check it out for himself. He brings us this report.
That annual celebration of farm and food is here. I know because I caught its scent the minute I stepped outside this morning. My immediate instinct was to follow that scent wherever it might lead me. Of course that’s exactly what I did.
Passing the tractor-taxis, I made my first stop at the cattle barn, where I ran into Steve Hendress. He’s a Purdue University dairy coordinator.Hendress stands next to two different types of dairy cows—Black and White Holstein and Brown Swiss. He explains how different dairy cows differ in the qualities of milk they produce.
"Holstein's are certainly the most popular population wise," he says. "They give the most volume of milk, but their solids, or the quality, is a little less. The Brown Swiss is next to it. There's more solid, much richer. Use for more cream, butter and ice cream."
In the rabbit and poultry barn, rows of bunny cages take up half the space. At the end of a row, siblings Brooke and Brock Langely of Remington, Indiana groom their American Chin; one of fourteen rabbits they’ve brought to show. Brooke started showing rabbits over six years ago, after her family saved one from being euthanized at veterinary office.
"I told my mom ever since then I've always wanted to [show] rabbits," she says. "She [her mom] was unsure at first, but, since we got them, she fell in love too. Now she shows as well as my dad."
Of course the State Fair wouldn’t be the State Fair without the dozens of tents pushing pork, beef, chicken and lamb with a side of buttered corn. And then there’s desert. At the deep-fried Twinkie stand, the cashier Cherry tells me her business doesn’t pick up until later.
“Right after dinner time.," she says. "It’s like birthday cake on a stick.”
Nevertheless, there’s Jim Michael from Huntington buying one just before noon. Cherry hands it to him. He bites in and gives me his verdict…
"Good," he says.
I ask if it really tastes like birthday cake on a stick.
"Probably if you’d put some of the other toppings on it," he says. "I'm kind of a plain guy, so I went with classic powdered sugar. I think it’s going to be pretty good, though."
I took Jim’s word for it and didn’t have one myself. I did have a pulled pork sandwich, though, from one of the two pork tents. That’s only because they were out of pork burgers, meaning I couldn’t order a garbage burger—that’s a pork burger with pulled pork on top. The good thing is the fair will be around another sixteen days. Which gives me time to grab a deep-fried twinkie…or two.