Reflections on the 2013 Indiana State Fair

Speaking at the Hoosier Homestead Ceremony

Speaking at the Hoosier Homestead Ceremony

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.

Mike Pence visited our commodity meeting with the Indiana Soybean Alliance.

Mike Pence visited our commodity meeting with the Indiana Soybean Alliance.

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.



Hello, and welcome to The Director’s Cut.

I’m happy for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you about all things Indiana agriculture. I’m blessed to be in this position as Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. While from my office I can look across the street to a beautiful view of the Indiana State Capitol, it seems I spend just as much time traveling through our great state, and meeting with the great folks from the Indiana farming and agribusiness community.

In this role I get the privilege to advocate for that community, which of course has so many great stories to tell. In fact, the future has never looked brighter for Indiana agribusiness and it’s important that we always realize this is primarily because of the people in the industry itself, not because of government. Government’s role in that, as stated by our Governor, Mike Pence and Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, is to help create the right economic conditions for business growth and job creation, to protect those businesses small and large from unnecessary tax and regulatory burden, and then to stay out of the way while the true entrepreneurs of the state do their excellent work in expanding and growing our state’s economy.

In the months since I have been named director, I’ve met with so many people from around the state, and of course I will continue to do so. One purpose of this blog will be to share some of the experiences I have in meeting with folks like you. Another is to effectively communicate our state’s agricultural policy. But in all of this I aim to help tell the success story of Indiana agriculture, and provide more insight into how the Indiana State Department of Agriculture is working to further the mission and goals of our state’s agribusiness community.

I hope you’ll check back each week as I update you on everything that’s happening. Next week I’ll provide a review of some of my early activities at this year’s Indiana State Fair, which continues through Aug. 18.  Thank you for reading and have a great day.