On this final day of the Indiana State Fair, I’m filled with memories of previous fairs and fun. This is my 21st fair in a row where I have worked in some capacity. I started out as an intern in 1994 with the Indiana Soybean Growers. I spent two summers as an intern for soybean and made some great memories during those summers!!
In 1996 I was an intern for a farm radio network. I spent that time at the fair doing interviews, writing stories and covering every square inch of the fair. I interviewed dairy queens, antique tractor owners, fair board members and livestock showmen. I learned where every nook and cranny on the fairgrounds was. I found the best restrooms, where the best air-conditioning was located, and met everyone!
In December of 1996, the radio network offered me a full-time job. I spent the next span of State Fairs doing what I had as an intern, covering every square inch of the fair, sun up to sun down, and loving every second.
The last 10 years of State Fairs has been working there in my wine job. Educating people about wineries and vineyards role in agriculture. This year it is also in our new Wine & Beer Exhibition area. Serving wine samples, for the first time in over 6 decades, to customers who want to learn about Indiana wines.
My favorite time of the fair is in the early mornings. When I just arrive on the grounds and walk to my building. The sounds of the livestock barns waking up. The smells from the variety of food vendors. The early morning greetings from the State Police Post. Chuck, the local newspaper salesman, who has peddled around this fairgrounds every year I have been year, selling papers and making conversation.
It’s the excitement of a new day. Another day to educate, entertain and enlighten people about my role in agriculture. Another chance to create conversation, see friends, and just offer a smile.
This year’s fair is wrapping up as another major success. The “Year of the Coliseum” offered a new look to a building that has seen so many adventures inside her walls. And while I hate to see another fair end, I know there will be the 22nd fair for me next year.
There is the excitement of my Panda, now in her 2nd year of 4H, running through the project building anxiously trying to find her projects.
And then there is the excitement, and tears in this case, when a project that she spent dozens of hours working on and fretting over, gets a special merit award, indicating it is better than a blue ribbon. The joy that shines through made the hundreds of hours spent watching her work on projects this year worth every moment.
There is my joy, as a former broadcaster, watching my Panda do her first radio interview, on my former radio home. And watching her conduct herself with poise and answer each question without an “um” in the sentence! When my broadcaster friend Terri asked her what she wanted to be when she grows up, I nearly cried when she said “I want to do what my Mom does, promote agriculture and tell people where their food comes from.” Whew…
Each kid got a day with Mom. My Monkey enjoys everything about the fair and doesn’t mind if I do silly things with her.
And she still loves this cow with the large corn and soybean.
The Little Man tends to be just as silly. His joy for everything at the fair makes me smile!!
There are the quiet moments in the birthing barn, watching a newborn calf take her first steps.
And then there are my quiet moments on the fairgrounds, when I just need to take a break from all of the excitement and watch the people go by.
In the end, I love the Indiana State Fair. 17 days of fair is exhausting. But the time spent visiting with people, educating them about wine, grapes and all things agriculture, makes the extremely long days worth every second.
Until August 7-23, 2015, I’m done.