Record-breaking crowds flooded the Indiana State Fair over its two-week duration, thanks in part to the variety of activities—and the cooler weather.
“We had a great fair. We are going to end up as being top 5 in attendance,” said Andy Klotz, public relations director of the Indiana State Fair Commission.
He said the state fair’s goal for attendance this year was 875,000 people; it has surpassed that number at about 900,000 people and counting.
“Overall the cool weather helped bring people in. We avoided any long spells of heat,” Klotz said. “People enjoy themselves more when it’s cooler.”
Although there were some rainy days, the sun pulled through and shined on new events like the Indiana Beer & Wine Exhibition at the Grand Hall. Alcohol hadn’t been served at the fair since 1946.
“Compared to a county fair, we just have unique things that you can’t find anywhere else, like the Pioneer Village,” Klotz said.
The Free Stage brought in national acts like Kansas, the Barenaked Ladies, and Dustin Lynch, who had fairgoers rocking. The animal barns housed thousands of animals from all over Indiana and let 4-H’ers show off their hard work.
Seventh grader Bowen Bussing and his fifth-grade sister Brooklee competed in the 4-H pig show earlier in the week. They had 12 pigs at the fair and care for about 45 pigs at home.
Bowen loves coming to the Indiana State Fair “to have fun at the shows and to make friendships,”and because there is “a lot more stuff to do and a lot more people to meet.”
The fair offered hundreds of photo opportunities with pygmy goats, the state’s largest boar and pumpkins the size of tables. But cute and stinky animals aren’t for everyone.
“Forget the animals, I come here for the food,” Margaret Baker of Indianapolis said.She has visited the state fair for about 54 years now with her kids and husband, Robert H. Baker II,who brings his white 1988 Yugo to the state fair car show.
“I’ve been coming since I was 5. I’m 78 now,” Robert Baker said. “All the clothing, people and dispositions change, but there are still good people out there.”
Corndog vendor Mary Shepherd and her grandson have been working the Indiana State Fair since 1998, and they used to go to about 28 shows a year. Now they’ve slowed down,but they say it’s an honor to set up at one of the state’s biggest events.
“The weather was awesome, and the attendance was great,” Shepherd said.
“When people are coming here, they are happy. They are coming for a good time, and they usually get it.”