By State Sen. Jim Merritt
Our state’s biggest celebration is right around the corner. The Indiana State Fair runs through Aug. 17 and was recently named one of the top ten state fairs in the country by Fodor’s Travel.
As a member of the Indiana State Fair Commission, advancing our fair and the traditions it represents is important to me. This year, Hoosiers can look forward to several new features and events that commemorate our unique Indiana culture.
After significant renovations, the Fairgrounds Coliseum will return as the hallmark of our fair. The Coliseum will host draft horse competitions, livestock shows and several headline concerts. The fair’s theme for 2014 is the Year of the Coliseum to mark this exciting news.
There will also be a new Beer and Wine Exhibition to celebrate Indiana’s growing craft beer and local wine scenes. Beer and wine have historically been banned at the fair, but the General Assembly passed a law this year lifting the ban. Beer and wine will only be available inside the enclosed exhibition, and only Indiana-made products will be offered.
Another new feature at the fair is Vet Camp. Hosted by Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, students in grades six through 12 can attend Vet Camp and experience a wide variety of practical veterinary duties and procedures, including reading x-rays and examining microscopic samples.
Vet Camp will be a great addition to the various educational activities, like 4-H, that the State Fair provides to our youth. More than 17,000 Hoosier 4-H exhibitors participate in the fair each year, showcasing months of hard work and demonstrating skills in various fields, like farming.
To help 4-H members better prepare for and attend the fair, the General Assembly passed a new law allowing students in good academic standing up to five excused absences from school to participate in 4-H programs.
The State Fair offers many discount days and special events, such as Honoring our Armed Forces and Veterans Day, State Superintendents Day and $2 Taste of the State Fair. To learn more about deals, ticket prices and events, visit the State Fair’s website at www.in.gov/statefair.
Be sure to also check out the State Fair’s new app map, which can help you find your favorite food or activity booth. Just search for “Indiana State Fair – 2014” in your app store to download it for free.
Hope to see you there!