The Indiana State Fair offers a shopping experience unlike anywhere else. Fair shops are where city folk can embrace their country side and purchase items they usually would not, such as a sheep-shaped shawl pin. These three hidden treasures provide unique shopping experiences for fairgoers.
Ranch Dressing Designs
Location: Champions Pavilion
Paris, Kentucky, native Chantel Sparrow travels all over the Midwest to draft-horse shows to set up shop. Her store offers “unique accessories and garment customization.” Almost every item in the shop features some sort of horse design.
Sparrow shows draft horses and grew frustrated because of the lack of horse merchandise. So five years ago, she stepped in.
“I saw an opportunity and a need that was not being filled,” Sparrow said.
While on the hunt for the perfect item in Ranch Dressing Designs, a customer will run across jewelry, clothes, car decals, bags and cups. All the products come from American-made companies.
Sparrow’s specialty is her custom screen-printing station. Customers choose from a binder of designs, pick out a T-shirt or tank top of sweatshirt, then Sparrow prints the design onto the clothing and it’s ready almost instantly.
Sparrow runs her business alone. Sometimes she’ll spend the whole day traveling, marketing or placing orders. During draft-horse shows, Ranch Dressing Designs is open from 8 a.m. until 30 minutes before the show begins.
“There is no normal business day,” she said, “which I love.”
Indiana Sheep Association Wool N Ewe Room
Location: Elements Financial Blue Ribbon Pavilion (Sheep Barn)
This country-style shop is ideal for those crafters and decorator fairgoers. Upon entering the store, customers see shelves upon shelves of sheep-related products: skeins of wool yarn, wool pelts—even sheep figurines.
Bev Larson spins wool yarn in the store, which is then available for purchase. Larson also weaves baskets and makes soaps and felt animals to sell.
“We kind of like our fiber,” she said, laughing.
Location: Indiana Farmers Coliseum
Ewe 2 offers a chic boutique style while also fulfilling a need for showmen. One side of the shop offers stylish clothing and accessories, while the other half displays belt buckles, show number holders and show whips – “show-ring bling” as co-owner Jackie Denhart calls it.
Though Ewe 2 specializes in show merchandise, the store’s atmosphere gives off a different vibe. The shop’s interior design includes light blue metal benches, a boho-chic curtain dressing room and cute signs.
The shop is 2 years old and is an extension of the Wool N Ewe Room. A percentage of all sales goes to the Indiana Sheep Association. Ewe 2 is open from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily throughout the fair.
Miller Kern 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 state’s biggest sow. This Ball State immersive-learning project works for elephant ears.