“Be the ‘I’ in Indy! C’mon, everyone does it!” said a mother trying to convince her two teenage daughters to take a picture.
The Ndy sign is arguably one of the most interesting places at the fair. The sounds of carnival games and the clanging bells of a lucky winner fill people’s ears. Flags billow in the wind, the tractor shuttle hums by, and families come and go.
To the left, there are funnel cakes and a piña-colada cartoon cutout. To the right, there is the Harvest Pavilion filled with Lego creations and a cotton-candy stand.
The smell of kettle corn mixed with fried food fills the noses of children gripping their balloons with sticky fingers. One little girl cuddles a stuffed animal her dad won for her.
In the midst of it all, the sun beating down on the black asphalt doesn’t deter people from stopping to pose for a picture.
What’s caught their eye? The missing “I.”
Well, it’s not really missing. It changes hundreds of times a day.
Visit Indy created the Ndy statue, currently located outside the gift shop at the Indiana State Fair. Senior Communications Manager Lisa Wallace was part of the #loveindy campaign.
“We wanted to present it in a way to allow Hoosiers, as well as visitors, to have a reason to share their pride in Indy,” she said. “And [the state fair] is a great event that draws a large concentration of people.”
The statue was created in the wake of the backlash from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, to show that Indy is a welcoming place.
The grass around the statue is matted down and dead from so many footsteps, but the location itself is full of life. To be the “I,” all one has to do is stand on the footprints next to the statue and flash a smile.
Or you could lie inside the “y,” which is what Tristen Sieber’s child did. Sieber, from Frankfort, coaxed her son to take a picture with ice cream.
“I wanted him to take a picture because I saw a bunch of other people doing it,” she said. “[The sign] provides people with memories.”
In the background of every picture taken, the Indiana State Fair Midway Arch stands. People offer to take pictures for each other. There is an “I” in individual, but the “I” in Indy creates an interaction between many individuals.
Katt Trott works at the Gazebo Gift Shop behind the statue. She said she loves watching the people come and go.
“I see so many people taking pictures and posting them on social media,” she said between the ringing of the doorbell. “I think it celebrates where you’re from.”
Megan Melton is a writer for BSU Journalism at the Fair, a group of 30 students telling Indiana’s stories from a trailer somewhere between the cheese sculpture and the biggest sow. This Ball State University immersive-learning project works for elephant ears.