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

July 29, 2018 Leave a comment
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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.

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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!

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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.

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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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Northside Diner named best breakfast in Porter County Indiana @indianadunes

March 18, 2018 2 comments
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Northside Diner in Chesterton, Indiana.
Photo provided by Indiana Dunes Tourism and used with written permission.

By Dustin Ritchea
Indiana Dunes Tourism

Porter, Ind. — Indiana Dunes Tourism, in partnership with the Northern Indiana Tourism Development Commission (NITDC), is proud to announce Northside Diner in Chesterton as the Porter County champion of Indiana’s Cool North Breakfast Wars!

The ten best breakfast restaurants in Porter County squared off for eleven days against each other in an online voting contest to decide who served the best breakfast in Indiana Dunes Country and all of Indiana’s Cool North.

“We’re so flattered to be a part of this competition and overwhelmed by the love we have received from our community,” said Northside Diner owner, Kerry Lively. “I’m proud to serve our patrons every morning and excited that the most important meal of the day may just be the best one too.”

Northside Diner will now move on to the regional final to compete alongside six other county winners to see who will be crowned Best Breakfast in Indiana’s Cool North.

“Breakfast Wars is such a fun way for us to celebrate the unique restaurants in our local communities,” said Kailey Davenport, Indiana Dunes Tourism’s Community Engagement Director. “There’s been so much passion, loyalty and excitement throughout this competition. All it takes is bacon and eggs to bring people together, and that’s what tourism’s all about.”

The voting for the regional round will begin Friday, March 16, 2018 at 10 a.m. EST and will be hosted on the regional website at www.IndianasCoolNorth.com/BreakfastWars.

Anyone can vote once in the final round per valid email. Votes from the county round do not count, so make sure to vote again for your favorite restaurant. The regional round lasts ten days and the winner will be crowned on Monday, March 26.

The seven winning restaurants that will vie for Best Breakfast in Indiana’s Cool North are the following: Castaways in Plymouth, Jennie Rae’s Restaurant in Rolling Prairie, Country Corral Restaurant in Shipshewana, Macadoo’s Family Restaurant in Mishawaka, The Golden Egg Pancake House in Elkhart, American Table Restaurant in Warsaw and Northside Diner in Chesterton.

Indiana’s Cool North Breakfast Wars is a joint initiative of the Northern Indiana Tourism Development Commission (NITDC) and its member convention and visitors bureaus in Porter, LaPorte, St. Joseph, Marshall, Kosciusko, Elkhart and LaGrange counties. NITDC is the leading regional economic development authority focusing on sustainable tourism through effective partnerships, including the development of Indiana’s Cool North Campaign. Indiana Dunes Tourism is the official destination marketing, planning and development organization for Indiana Dunes Country/Porter County, Ind.

For more information about this year’s Breakfast Wars, please contact Kailey Davenport at kailey@indianadunes.com or Robby Bearss at rbearss@nitdc.com.

Jay County Fiber Arts Festival, Mar. 9-10, 2018 @JayCoTourism

February 21, 2018 Leave a comment
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Jay Community Center in downtown Portland, Indiana.
AroundIndy.com staff photo, (c) 2017, all rights reserved.

By Blake Watson
Jay County Visitor & Tourism Bureau

The Jay County Fiber Arts Festival is scheduled for Mar. 9-10, 2018: Friday 10 AM to 5 PM, and Saturday, 9 AM to 4 PM. The Fiber Arts Festival, which features classes, fiber artists, food, vendors and demonstrations, is located at the Jay Community Center, 115 E. Water St., in Portland, Indiana.

Here’s a little bit about Dick Reel, Fiber Fest Spooner and Wood Working Demonstrator:

Musicians have long used a variety of instruments to entertain crowds for centuries. One of the most interesting and storied instruments used involves spoons.

American folk music has a rich history, which includes musicians using spoons that are sometimes accompanied by jugs and washboards.

The method as to how spoons are played is simple, as it involves the musician setting a rhythm and hitting the spoons against one’s knee and palm of hand.

Every year, during the second weekend of March, Dick Reel entertains a multitude of visitors who attend the Jay County Fiber Arts Festival in Portland, Indiana.

Reel is often dressed in his signature attire of suspenders and a long sleeve-shirt. Attendees of the Fiber Arts Festival are often scene marveling at Reel’s talents of creating music with spoons.

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Dick Reel. Photo provided by Jay County VTB and used with written permission.

It is a known fact that many of those who attend the Fiber Arts Festival always make it a special priority to visit with Reel and witness his playing of spoons.

Reel’s hobbies involve woodworking with various varieties of wood. He also enjoys demonstrating his woodworking skills, as he has done for several years at the Jay County Fiber Arts Festival.

Woodworking accomplishments of Reel involves his philanthropic donation of his specialty crafted wooden benches to the Laporte County 4-H Auction and the Purdue Agriculture Alumni. Over the years, Reel’s donated, crafted wooden items have raised over $15,000.

Notable awards that Reel has been the recipient of includes: Bob Hiler Outstanding Alumni Leadership Award, John P. Daley Jaycees Community Leadership Award, LaPorte County Historical Society Historian of the Year Award and Purdue Alumni Certificate of Distension Award.

Reel’s accomplishments also include the Pioneer Land, which he helped develop that is found at the Laporte County, Indiana Fairgrounds.

Organizers of the Jay County Fiber Arts Festival are honored to have such a remarkable and talented musician and woodworker participate at the event.

Mark your calendars now to attend and check out all the offerings, including Reel’s wooden demonstrations and playing of spoons.

For more information about this event, please visit http://www.visitjaycounty.com/fiberfest or contact Fiber Arts Festival organizers directly at 260-726-3366.

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“Just Us Girls” Packages in Richmond, Indiana @Visit_Richmond

July 28, 2017 Leave a comment
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“Just Us Girls” Pouch in Richmond, Indiana.

By Bob Burchfield, Editor
AroundIndy.com
, LLC

The other day I was sightseeing in Richmond and Wayne County, Indiana. While visiting with Nancy Sartain at the Richmond/Wayne County Convention and Tourism Bureau (CTB), I came across a unique package that should be of interest to women.

If you stop by the CTB, located at 5701 National Road East in Richmond, you can pick up a “Just Us Girls” pouch (see photo above) containing eight (8) coupons (see below) for discounts on purchases at local galleries, restaurants, boutiques, and more (see below).

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There is also a Visitor Savings Booklet included in the pouch, with 54 discount, free admission, BOGO, and free gift offers (see the “Experience Richmond” image below).

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All coupons expire on Dec. 31, 2017. So now is the time to round up a group of your best friends and head to eastern Indiana to take a day trip with your BFFs, do some shopping, have some fun, and enjoy some good savings on products and services at area venues.

For more information, go to http://visitrichmond.org/, or call 765-935-8687.

Review: Rosie’s Place Cafe in Noblesville, Indiana

April 28, 2017 1 comment
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Rosie’s Place Cafe in Noblesville, Indiana.
AroundIndy.com staff photo, (c) 2017, all rights reserved.

By Bob Burchfield, Editor
AroundIndy.com, LLC

Every now and then, if you get lucky, you make one of those remarkable little discoveries for yourself that makes you ask, “Why didn’t I know about this place before?”

Such was the case on April 27, 2017, when I made my first visit to Rosie’s Place Cafe in downtown Noblesville, Indiana, across the street from the courthouse on the east side of Courthouse Square. It won’t be the last!

It’s a bustling little cafe with a delicious selection of breakfast and lunch menu items — and an absolutely amazing bakery renowned for its Gooey Butter Cookies (I’ve read that they sell tens of thousands annually!).

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Gooey Butter Cookies — buy ’em by the bag!
AroundIndy.com staff photo, (c) 2017, all rights reserved.

The staff was very attentive and accommodating and cooperative in spite of the fact that I was being obtrusively pesky with all the photography. But as you can see in the photos below, there was simply too much to pass up for this old shutterbug! [grin]

I can’t articulate the delicious combination of tastes and flavors like some professional food critics and bloggers, but my eyes know what they like when they see it, and my taste buds know what they like when they taste it! The menu items contain generous portions and have strong visual appeal, color, and taste!

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The Salmon BLT at Rosie’s Place. Wonderful.
AroundIndy.com staff photo, (c) 2017, all rights reserved.

I’m sure the locals are very familiar with Rosie’s Place, but this was one heckuva find for this out-of-towner (although I am a Hamilton County boy from birth, born in Arcadia). If you’re in the neighborhood, check it out. You’ll be glad you did!

Rosie’s Place is located at 68 North 9th Street in Noblesville, and is open Mon-Fri 7 am to 3 pm and Sat-Sun 8 am to 2 pm. For more information, visit http://rosiesplace.net/, or call 317-770-3322. There’s also an additional location at 10 South Main Street in Zionsville (317-344-6500).

DISCLOSURE NOTICE: Rosie’s Place provided AroundIndy.com, LLC with free samples from its bakery in exchange for the promotional consideration.

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Breakfast Tacos at Rosie’s Place, one of the cafe’s popular menu items.

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Classic Eggs Benedict at Rosie’s Place.

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A remarkable bacon and egg cheeseburger at Rosie’s Place.

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Strawberry Parfait at Rosie’s Place.