Tickle Me Elmo III

On Thursday, B.B. and I went to the Indiana State Fair which runs every August for a couple of weeks. For those of you familiar with the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) in Vancouver, it’s quite similar. We went on Thursday because there were free admission tickets in Monday’s Indianapolis Star paper (so I bought two papers and clipped out the tickets).

This year, the theme for the State Fair is “2010 Year of the Pigs.” At first when I heard this, I thought that it was also related to the Chinese New Year calendar. But, it’s not. The year of the pig was last celebrated in 2007. The State Fair seems to be influenced by special interest groups. This pig theme is in celebration of the Indiana pork industry and is presented by the Indiana Pork Farmers.

We first entered the Exposition Hall where there were numerous vendors selling a variety of products from cookies to trinkets to gutter systems. There were some vendors doing food prep demonstrations with food graters but I did not see the Shamwow vendor. Most of the stuff were things that people don’t need, but there were a couple of things that no one needs.

We then went to the Hook’s Drugstore which was a replica of an old-fashioned drug store complete with shelves of medicines in glass bottles and old-fashioned candy. It kind of reminded me of the time when I worked at the museum in my hometown; it was dark and old, there were wooden floors, 100-year-old knickknacks and lots of historical black and white photos on display. 

We also went to the Pepsi Coliseum (where the Indiana Ice play hockey). They were judging horses that were pulling buggies. Some guy from Ontario won first place for his Clydesdales (huge horses!).

We then went to the International Pavilion where they had a display called Bridges to Japan. That was an interesting pavilion with a lot to see. There was a robot that could respond to Japanese questions, calligraphy demonstrations, a kimono closet, a main stage with martial arts demonstrations, information about the new high-speed trains being built, and of course, Japanese food. I got a green tea ice cream.

We also went to the swine barn where there were over 2300 pigs housed there with 11 different species. The world’s largest pig, Tickle Me Elmo III was there weighing in at 1277 lbs. He was quite huge.

We went to a small petting zoo. I fed some nuts to a goat. We also went to the Department of National Resources (DNR) Building and saw some different types of fish that can be found in Indiana (examples include bass, catfish, perch, blue gill, muskee).

American Gothic carved onto a pumpkin

One of the more interesting parts of the fair was going to see the prize-winning produce. The world’s biggest pumpkin was there weighing in at 1,145 pounds. There were some other rather large pumpkins on display. There was also a section with displays made of cans. All of the displays used the pig theme for their design. After the fair is over, the cans of food will be donated to a local food bank. One of the displays looked like a frying pan with eggs and bacon. Another display was a scene from Charlotte’s Web. There were also prize-winning guards, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, corn and a variety of other veggies.





Can display replicating story of Charlotte’s Web


Carnie food oxymoron

We didn’t eat at any of the carnie food, but there were a lot of food tents. One of the most popular items at the fair is the elephant ears (which are similar to beaver tails). There were some gyro tents, pulled pork tents, burger tents. I did hear of some foods that sound quite heavy such as the fried butter (who would have thought that would be a carnie food) and the doughnut burger (yes, it’s doughnuts substituting the buns). Other information on foods at the Indiana State Fair.

Here are some other differences between the PNE and State Fair:

  • Cost: Admission cost for the State Fair is $8 vs. $20 for the PNE

  • Parking costs: At the State Fair, parking is $5 but we parked in a nearby street and walked so it was free for us (in Vancouver it is $25 or $5-$15 if you park in someone’s private driveway)

  • The words, “The world’s biggest” is everywhere at the Indiana State Fair (Maybe that’s similar to the PNE but I don’t recall ever seeing these words at the PNE)

  • The PNE has the house lottery/tour, the State Fair has some random information tents (like the propaganda tents  like the pro-life tent displaying pictures of fetuses at different stages and the Christian tent)

  • The fairground is next to the Monon Trail so you can actually bike to the State Fair and take advantage of the free bike valet and get $1 off of your admission ticket

  • There are high school marching bands performing during the opening day (B.B. was in a marching band that performed at the State Fair every year–he played the trombone).

I’m not sure if I’ll go next year. If I do go, I will consider biking there and taking advantage of the free bike parking.