Friday, August 14, 2009

Fair reflections

So Jean and I decided to hit the Indiana State Fair last night, and I thought I'd share a few thoughts.

We did try this year's signature fair food, deep-fried pizza. It's actually just fried dough with tomato sauce smeared on top and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. It's not bad, but certainly not worth $5.

The most jaw-dropping food item offered was easy to pick: Chocolate-covered bacon. It sounds like some kind of joke from "The Simpsons." But nope, it's for real. We talked to one guy who got it, and he was surprised that it was cold. Not grown cool from sitting out too long, but intentionally cold. He said they cook the bacon and then freeze it. I'm guessing the chocolate coating wouldn't adhere to hot bacon. Anyway, he said it wasn't bad, but I wasn't about to try it. Again, overpriced: $5 for three slices.

We also got some chocolate frozen custard from the state dairy booth, and some of those ribbon fried potatoes. We got the potatoes last year, and I think we'll have to skip them in the future. They basically just taste like potato chips. It's $6.50 for a plate, but it is quite a huge portion.

We also got a lemon shake-up for $5, bringing our total food purchase to $21. Considering we didn't eat dinner, I guess it's not too outrageous.

We rode our bikes to the fair, which I highly recommend. I understand parking is $5 this year, and by the time you've nosed your way through traffic and walked to the ticket booth, you won't get there any faster than biking. There is a free biking parking area on the Monon that's monitored by fair staff; the only downside is that it closes at 8 p.m. We chained up our bikes just outside there.

Jean enjoyed the tractor parade, saying she'd never seen such a thing. Having spent most of my life in the South, I've seen plenty of them.

We didn't do any of the rides. That sort of thing gets old after a stomach full of fried fair fare. Many of the rides seem designed to shake the food right out of you. Perhaps it's a money-making tactic. Plus, they disguise the cost of the rides by selling tickets to them, with a certain number for each. For the higher-end rides, it works out to like $5 per person per ride.

I was surprised by how many people were wearing flip-flops. Don't get me wrong, I wear them all the time myself. But walking for hours on end in such things is like announcing, "Plantar faciatis, come on in!"

Jean also commented on all the young girls wearing shirts that fit them tightly around the belly, when they have bodies that beg for something a little more billowy. It was an orgy of muffin tops.

We did get to learn the difference between a donkey, a jackass, a burro, a mule and a hinny. Feel free to quiz me.

We popped in on many of the exhibits, although one of the downsides of going at night is that a lot of that stuff is closed down. We did not see the cheese-sculpting show.

Altogether, a great fair once again this year!

UPDATE: I got a note today from Anne Valentine, legislative director for Gov. Mitch Daniels, letting me know that there IS free parking available for the state fair. I've added her message with the site where you can find the free parking below:

I’ve been a fan of your blog for months now, but wanted to mention something on your post about the State Fair. I know there are some out lots that charge $5 for parking, but the Fair has an abundance of free parking available (see: Most days of the Fair, there is free parking available. There is also free park and ride – Glendale Mall. Wonderful that you rode your bike the Fair, but I just wanted to offer a correction to your “I understand parking is $5 this year.”


  1. Clarification... I've seen plenty of tractors in parades in my hometown but not a specific parade of tractors through the fairgrounds. Also, I reviewed the bike parking online this morning to answer a question for a friend. It's staffed by volunteers and subsidized by Metropolitan Planning Organization:

  2. Cheese sculpting show sounds very interesting. Too bad you missed it. I assume you saw tractor shows in Ocala because I never saw any in WP or even Athens, GA for that matter (just a lot of chicken trucks :)

  3. ok let's define the donkey etc for us

  4. Donkey=ass=burro

    A male donkey is called a jack, thus the term jackass. Female donkey is a jenny.

    A mule is the offspring of a male jackass and a female horse (mare).

    A hinny is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey (jenny).

    Both hinnies and mules are usually sterile.

  5. I could have told you that about the free parking. It's on the back side of the fairgrounds-on Evanston. It's not a bad walk, either.