This year marked the 151st annual Indiana State Fair, making it the sixth oldest state fair in the country. In 1851, the Indiana General Assembly created the State Board of Agriculture, whose primary goal was to create a state fair to encourage agriculture. The board was successful and in 1852 the first state fair was held in downtown Indianapolis at what is now Military Park. The State Fair grounds as we know them today were not opened until September 19, 1892.
Throughout the years, the state fair has been a successful way to promote agriculture. This year to further the success, a new program was created to highlight Indiana's homegrown agricultural products so the 151st annual fair was know as the Year of Corn. Corn is the number one crop in Indiana and we are fifth in the world for corn production. There are more than 3,500 uses for corn and 75 percent of all grocery items contain corn in some processed form. Corn is also a renewable source of energy and can be beneficial in making products such as ethanol.
Hoosiers were given a chance to witness the power of ethanol first hand this year in the form of bio-diesel farm equipment. Fair goers were even given the opportunity to experience this for themselves by riding the shuttle, which was pulled by bio-diesel fueled tractors. There was even a special shuttle with an attached ramp that allowed wheel chairs to easily maneuver and enjoy the ride.
Another hit this year was the Riley Fun Park, a family entertainment area that had a little something for everyone. Children were given the opportunity to be farmers for a day at Little Hands on the Farm. Thousands of children ages 3-12 winded their way through the farming process from the start of picking up supplies to finishing off by dropping their produce of at the grocery store. There was also a special kid's day, where children participated in activities and games. Since this year's fair was the Year of the Corn, many of the children's games were centered around corn and included a corn cob toss, corn shelling relay and a dress like a corn relay race.
Despite the extreme heat, 75,000 people enjoyed this year's state fair and managed to devour thousands of pounds of tasty treats. I hope all of you had the chance to enjoy this year's festivities, but if you didn't, the good news is that next year's fair will possibly have extra days. For more information on State Fair activities or upcoming events visit www.in.gov/statefair.
Visit us online at www.in.gov/legislative