I don’t know if something that lasts 17 days can be described as a whirlwind, but that’s what this year’s Indiana State Fair felt like.
This was my first State Fair as Director of ISDA. As a member of the Indiana State Fair Board of Directors, I had additional responsibilities this time around, including being on the fairgrounds every day of this year’s event. My husband Travis and I actually stayed in an RV for the duration of the fair. While living outside of your home for that long can be an ordeal, there’s only one way to describe our experience at this year’s event:
We loved every minute of it.
If you weren’t one of the nearly 1 million people (978,296 to be exact) who passed through the fair’s gates this year, it is definitely your loss. Executive Director Cindy Hoye and her staff did a tremendous job in handling operations for this year’s event. As a board member I get to see a lot of the behind-the-scenes planning and preparation for the State Fair, and all I can say about that is the organizational skills of Cindy and others really translated to an enjoyable event for everyone.
Of course, your Indiana State Department of Agriculture was a constant presence at the fair as well. While you may have visited us at The Normandy Barn on the north side of the fairgrounds, the bulk of our activity was a little less public. ISDA staff had the opportunity for a wide array of meetings on state agricultural policy with organizations and individuals representing the state’s agricultural sector.
In all we had 14 meetings with commodity groups, plus numerous side meetings by members of our staff with other individuals and groups related to Indiana agriculture. Along with that, our Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann (the state’s Secretary of Agriculture), conducted meetings with state Ag leaders, plus the Celebration of Ag event in Normandy, where the Agrivision Award was presented to my friend Norman McCowan of Bell Aquaculture.
I was also privileged to be part of the Hoosier Homestead Award Ceremony in the Indiana Farm Bureau Building, where 69 Indiana farm families were honored for their respective legacies of family farm ownership of at least 100 years.
Even beyond all of this, I had the chance to visit with so many folks from around the state, in livestock barns, at the above events or just walking down Main Street of the fair. I am reminded what a blessing it is to be able to serve the Indiana agricultural community in this role.
So while the fair may leave some of us a little tired at the end, it does nothing but help rejuvenate our commitment to serve Indiana agriculture for the sake of our many common goals.
And don’t forget, next year’s Indiana State Fair runs from Aug. 1-17.