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Mike’s Guide to the Indiana State Fair
I don’t remember my first visit to the Indiana State Fair. I’m pretty sure it was in the 1950s. I suppose I could call Mom and get a fix on the year but it really isn’t necessary. It’s easier just to say that except for a few years when I was out of state, I’ve been going to the State Fair practically all my life, and I love it more each year.
I realize not everyone feels the way I do about the State Fair. Some (gasp) can take ir or leave it and others (gasp again) ignore it altogether.
Well, I am out to fix that. Therefore, I present to you fair-weather Fair friends the non-official Mike’s Guide To The Indiana State Fair For People Who Don’t Like Fairs All That Much.
Here are my guidelines:
1. Stay away from the midway. Really. Just leave it alone. It is chockablock with games you can’t win and rides you won’t enjoy. The only people I would send there are anthropologists looking to record the existence of the world’s only remaining mullet haircuts or studying the mating habits of the Lynyrd-Skynyrd-Shirt-Wearing-Mouthbreather and the Lives-With-His-Mama-Thug-Wannabe.
2. Remember, it can be difficult for city people to eat a Pork Chop Sandwich after you have seen the newborn pigs at the Swine Barn. Eating one IN the Swine Barn should really be left to the professionals.
3. Hang out at the Pioneer Pavilion. It’s a wonderful look at Indiana’s agricultural past. Or, if you are from LaGrange County like me, present.
4. There are all sorts of food vendors serving all sorts of garbage, most of it fried. Some people think this alone is worth the visit. Others, like me, think that if the State Fair is going to offer that sort of “food” it should do the decent thing and build a gastro-intestinal emergency clinic in the infield.
5. Look at the 4-H projects. I don’t care how cool you think you are. I don’t care how cynical you pretend to be. 4-H is a truly great youth development program that teaches learning by doing, and the projects reflect it. The H’s stand for Head, Heart, Hands and Health, but to me they also mean Hope.
6. Of course you should visit the animals, and don’t forget the sheep (they’re slightly off the main drag) or the poultry. In the poultry barn, don’t forget to have a conversation with the geese. They’re the only birds who will look you in the eye and tell you exactly what they think of you, which isn’t much.
7. Yes, the animal barns smell like manure. So what? Deal with it. Besides, there are times when you’re not exactly a bundle of roses yourself.
8. Go in the morning. There’s less nonsense.
9. Fair warning: If you enter a drawing for free windows or gutter guards, you can expect to get phone calls from salesmen for the rest of your life. Speaking of nonsense.
10. Try to think of the fair as more than just an agricultural expo, because it is. It reflects the wonderful variety of our state’s people and their interests; it pays homage to our past and anticipates the future; it celebrates US.
In other words, get over yourself and just have fun. See you there.
© 2011 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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