Home > events, exhibits, fairgrounds, fairs, family friendly, Indiana, Indianapolis, things to do, tourism > 162nd Indiana State Fair, Aug. 3-19, 2018 @indystatefair #indystatefair

162nd Indiana State Fair, Aug. 3-19, 2018 @indystatefair #indystatefair

state-fair-logo-2018

Image provided by the Indiana State Fair and used with written permission.

By Bob Burchfield, Editor
AroundIndy.com, LLC

With no disrespect to any other Indiana organization or event, the Indiana State Fair is simply my most favorite event of the year — and has been for more than six decades!

I started attending the Indiana State Fair in 1952. Yes. 1952! I was still in diapers. But my mother was a quilter and loved to visit the quilt display in the Indiana Arts Building. So away we went to the State Fair each summer.

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An impressive quilt at the 2015 Indiana State Fair.

My most vivid memory of the State Fair is the band contest. My brother played trombone in the Anderson High School marching band that won three consecutive state championships in 1957, 1958, and 1959 — and finished 2nd in 1960! I’ll never forget the announcement of 2nd place in 1960: “And 2nd place goes to — (dramatic pause) — A – N – D” and the crowd went wild. Ben Davis won that year.

And so I’ve attended the State Fair almost every year since then, except when I was serving in the military after college and was stationed out of state. 

This year is no exception. 66 years after my first State Fair, you know I’ll be there as “Step Right Up! The Greatest 17 Days of Summer” features a circus theme, August 3-19, 2018.

That’s right! New to the 2018 Indiana State Fair is a single-ring, world-class circus. Located on the north side of the fairgrounds, there will be three shows per day (included with fair admission) showcasing a variety of world-famous performers, including Bello Nock, the International Circus Superstar. The Big Top Circus is presented by Bee Window.

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The Big Top Circus. Photo provided by the Indiana State Fair and used with written permission.

There are a few activities at the State Fair that I simply must observe each year out of family tradition:

  1. The first thing I always do is get on the Shuttle Train and take a ride all the way around the fairgrounds. It’s the best way to get a quick overview of what’s going on and where everything is located, at least IMO.state-fair-shuttle
  1. A stop at the Dairy Barn for a State Fair Milk Shake is mandatory for me. I prefer vanilla, but there’s strawberry and chocolate, too.state-fair-milk-shake
  1. I still like to stop at the Victorian-era Hook’s Drug Store Museum and take a step back in time at the historic soda fountain and pharmacy.hooks-musem
  2. Even though my cardiologist would not approve, a State Fair tenderloin is a must. Nobody makes ‘em like the ones at the State Fair!state-fair-tenderloin
  1. And I always pay homage to my mother, who died in 2011, by visiting the quilt display as previously mentioned. A sentimental and nostalgic tradition.

In the past five years, I’ve even conquered my fear of heights (at least somewhat!) by finally mustering the courage to ride the giant ferris wheel, and last year by riding the Subaru Skyride (which was new in 2017). The Midway is so colorful and full of visual appeal, especially after dark!

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The Midway at the 2015 Indiana State Fair.

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Subaru Skyride. Photo provided by the Indiana State Fair and used with written permission.

I like to go through the DNR Building and view the fish aquariums. I like to go through the Agriculture-Horticulture Building and see the exhibits. I like to go through Pioneer Village and see all the vintage and antique farm equipment. I like to walk through the animal barns—it’s always interesting to look for the world’s largest hog in the Swine Barn. I like to hang around for the daily parade each evening at 6:30 pm. 

And curiously, I like to walk through the underground tunnel from the infield to State Fair Main Street, because that’s my earliest memory and recollection of the fair.

But that shouldn’t dictate YOUR itinerary! There is so much to see and do at the State Fair that you simply can’t take it in all in one day. So I try to get out to the fair at least 3-4 times each year.

The Chevrolet Free Stage has some great entertainment this year, including Rick Springfield, Natalie Stovall, Anthony Hamilton, Tyler Childers, Randy Houser, Kool and the Gang, Hanson, the Happy Together Tour, Grand Funk Railroad, Hunter Hayes, the Gospel Music Festival with Kirk Franklin, and more. See the entire Free Stage schedule on our Web site at https://aroundindy.com/fairgrounds.php.

state-fair-free-stage

The giant hot air balloon race kicks off the fair on Friday, August 3, at sunrise (weather permitting), with the Illuminated Tractor Parade and Balloon Night at 9 PM that night. And the aforementioned State Fair Band Day is Saturday, August 4.

This year’s State Fair Queen is Audrey Campbell from Fountain County. Congratulations, Audrey!

state-fair-queen-audrey-campbell-fountain-county

2018 State Fair Queen Audrey Campbell. Photo provided by the Indiana State Fair and used with written permission.

The gates open daily at 8 am and are open until 9 pm Sunday-Thursday and 9:30 pm on Friday and Saturday. Exhibit and building hours are 9 am to 9 pm.

Onsite parking is $5 until the fairgrounds parking is full. Or you can park at Glendale Mall’s Rural Street lot and ride the Indiana State Fair shuttle for free. There are also $5 lots located south of 38th Street across from the Main Gate and at the Indiana School for the Deaf on 42nd Street. And you can save $1 off fair admission when you bike to the State Fair and use one of the secured bike racks available on the Monon Trail at 38th Street.

General admission is $13 (under 6 free). You can get advance tickets for $8 before August 3. The Chevrolet Free Stage concerts are included with admission. Discount tickets can be purchased online at https://indianastatefair.com and at the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center Box Office, located inside Indiana Farmers Coliseum, now through August 2.

By the way, there are several free admission specials:

  • Monday, August 6: Current and former military, and their families, receive free admission with ID presented at the gate.
  • Monday, August 13: Statewide Firefighters, Police Officers and EMT personnel and their families receive free admission when ID or badge is presented at the gate.
  • Wednesday, August 8 and 15: Free admission with IndyStar ticket.
  • Thursday, August 16: AAA cardholders receive free admission with valid AAA membership card presented at the gate.

And there are discounted admission offers on other days throughout the fair.

It’s almost impossible to write a blog post of any length and cover everything at the fair. So visit the State Fair Web site at https://www.indianastatefair.com/state-fair/ for complete information, or call 317-927-7500.

I hope to see you at the fair this year! And I hope this is the year we crack one million in attendance.

state-fair-from-top-of-ferris-wheel

A view of the State Fairgrounds from the top of the giant ferris wheel. See, I finally did it! [grin]

DISCLOSURE NOTICE: The Indiana State Fair provided AroundIndy.com, LLC with complimentary tickets to the 2012 Indiana State Fair; 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 annual media passes; and media passes to the 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 Indiana State Fair.

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