The Indiana State Fair: a place for Hoosier farmers to sell and share their wares for a special month of the year.

Tractors, tools and the “World’s Largest Boar” are all fine attractions, but for someone who is neither a Hoosier nor a farmer, some of the particulars were a bit over my head.

So here’s what caught my eye during the fair:

There’s an absolutely huge market for fries.

So there are a lot of really easy jokes one could make about fair food. In terms of health value, deep-fried Oreos, elephant ears and donut burgers are pretty much high-octane soul-death. That’s part of the fun of fair food—you come for one day, pay $5 per lemonade and go home. What I didn’t expect was the sheer volume of fries that would get pushed.

I don’t have any numbers on this, but the scope of it is visibly observable. Just about everywhere sells fries, as they’re kind of an American staple, and some places treat them like an entre. Just goes to show that a fair chunk of fair cash gets spent on these crispy creations, and everyone wants in on the action.

It’s a donut of districts.

The whole fair setup is pretty easy to navigate. One main path encircles the parking lot with most attractions on the outside of that path. Keep walking on one direction and you’ll pass by a miniature theme park, livestock stalls, and entire avenues of food stands.

The result is a buffet of experiences, all packed into one. Short diversions from the blacktop path result in new discoveries, and the fair’s offerings depend on your own thoroughness.

Pioneer Village

The beard- and bonnet-clad re-enactors of Pioneer Village come complete with overalls and antique skillsets needed to bring the place to life. Stroll through and you’d see fires blaze, hammers fall, and coal-fed farm machines belch black smoke into the sky.

The twang of banjo and guitar leaks out of the big red barn in the center of town, setting a suitable soundtrack. Old-time acts from all over Indiana had their time to perform their musical history lessons, as well as have some good old-fashioned fun.