Photo provided
The Indiana State Fair is in its 163rd year and open daily through Aug. 18.
Photo provided The Indiana State Fair is in its 163rd year and open daily through Aug. 18.
Have you been hankering for a deep-fried cookie ice-cream sandwich? Or maybe Idaho potatoes fried in duck fat and sprinkled with crispy hickory smoked pepper bacon? Or jalapeno bison hush puppies deep fried and served with sour cream? Or what about a mashed potato ball filled with seasoned ground beef then fried golden brown.
The Indiana State Fair -- which is in its 163rd year and open daily through Aug. 18 -- promises plenty of food to tempt the taste buds.
Vendors love to fry. And every year, they try to outdo what has been fried before.
For those looking for foods that are more health conscious, I have found a couple of new grilled choices. Hoosier Hometown Hash features two hash brown patties, grilled, and surrounded by muenster, pepper jack, cheddar and swiss cheese. And a grilled chicken is smothered in super-secret, sweet and tangy bourbon sauce with broccoli florets and piled high on a bed of steamed cilantro rice.
Anyone for lamb? Served in a flour tortilla with pico, lettuce, onion and cilantro, topped with cheese and sour cream and a side of salsa. Or seasoned ground lamb with vegetables and gravy topped with mashed potatoes and garnished green onions.
Like hot and spicy? A jumbo plate of French fries is topped with white meat chicken, cheddar cheese sauce, buffalo hot sauce and blue cheese, garnished with bacon bits and chives. Cajun Queen starts with a bed of jambalaya rice, favorite meats, grilled onions and peppers, melted sharp cheddar cheese and homemade hot sauce. Angry Pretzel Poppers at the J. Wilson Group (Wilson Farm Market, Arcadia) booth feature diced jalapenos mixed in dough, rolled in diced jalapenos to be hotter than hot bites that are baked, buttered and salted and paired with a jalapeno ranch dressing.
To celebrate the State Fair’s theme, “Heroes in the Heartland,” the American Hero features a hardy hoagie made with Virginia ham, salami and pepperoni, topped with a lettuce/slaw mixture and covered in a special sauce, then topped with fresh tomatoes and slices of American and jalapeno cheese. Also, the Superhero USA All the Way Pancake is a patriotic Dutch pancake loaded with red strawberries, white whipped cream and blueberries.
Fair goers can vote on their favorite foods throughout the fair at any information booth.
There are some new beverages, too. Caramel Coffee Milkshake, Blue Raspberry Lemon Twister and a drinkable dreamsicle called The Trifecta Hero, a shakeup slushy and vanilla shake mash-up, which combines freshly squeezed lemons, limes and orange juice, mixed with syrup and French vanilla cream with a splash of water.
Part of the allure of the Indiana State Fair is tasting foods that you might not normally have an opportunity to sample.
But if you prefer a simple glass of milk or a vanilla shake, you still find it. In fact, make plans to patronize local students while they’re working at the Dairy Bar on Main Street. Fair-goers will find Hamilton Southeastern students working the Dairy Bar on Aug. 16, and Hamilton Heights students working the Dairy bar on Aug. 17-18.
On Friday, the media was invited to taste nearly two dozen different foods new to the State Fair served under one roof, during media day’s Taste of the Fair in the Harvest Pavilion, where the “Heroes in the Heartland” theme celebrates Hoosier heroes throughout the run of the 17-day Fair.
One of those heroes already honored is Noblesville West Middle School teacher Jason Seaman, who appeared in Saturday’s parade on Main Street at the State Fair. He is among several different heroes being honored every day of the Fair.
The theme “provides us with the opportunity to honor and recognize Hoosier heroes, heroes in the classroom, heroes in healthcare, military, first responders, farmers, all sorts of heroes,” said Sharon Smith, who is in her third season as communications manager for the Indiana State Fair Commission. Smith is a past executive director for Noblesville Main Street. (There is a Hoosier hero honored in each of the daily parades at 6:30 p.m. daily, plus an additional 1 p.m. parade on Tuesdays and Saturdays.) She was found last Friday introducing media to the new Fair foods.
What else is new this year at the State Fair?
A beautiful Wine Garden is behind the AgHorticulture building, where fairgoers ages 21 and older can enjoy the State Fair winning wine and other wines.
“Remembering Our Fallen” is a photographic war memorial featuring 31 Tribute Towers, depicting 5,000 servicemen and women honoring military fallen from The War on Terror, 9/11/2001 to the present, Smith said.
On National Bee Day, at 4 p.m. Aug. 17, a demonstration will share how to inspect a bee hive.
Big Top Circus returns with headliner daredevil Bello Nock, with the other acts all new. Also new this year is a $5 fast pass, beginning at 10 a.m. daily, with guaranteed premium seating for 600 for each circus show; the remaining 1,300 seats are free and first come, first serve.
Animal Town, which is free, returns with barnyard animals, but pay $10 and get a behind-the-scenes look at the animals and their care, twice a day, at 10 am. and 6 p.m.
A Super Cinema with movies, games and more is new on the north side of the Fairgrounds, near Gate 12. See four tiny houses in the Family Fun Park, open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The Sullivan Hardware’s Christmas Train, at $5 per person, will travel the perimeter of the Family Fun Park.
The K9 Crew Trick Dog Show, Smith said, is “highly entertaining, with lots of tricks, a high-energy canine dog show,” four times a day, also in the Family Fun Park.
At Super City, “where heroes unite,” in the AgriScience Harvest Pavilion, superheroes from DC and Marvel Comics meet and greet the public at noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. daily. The schedule includes: Star Lord, today; Hulk, Wednesday; Thor, Thursday; Ant-Man, Friday; Spider-Man, Saturday; Black Panther, Sunday; Superman, Monday; The Flash, Aug. 13; Wonder Woman, Aug. 14-15; Batman, Aug. 16 and 18; Green Lantern, Aug. 17.
Parking this year increased from $5 to $8. Admission is $13 at the gate or $8 in advance. Special promotions include: $2 gate admission, $2 midway rides and $2 food options on Tuesday; $6 admission on Thursday with printed voucher from; first responders and their families receive free admission on Aug. 12; ages 55 and older ride shuttles for free on Aug. 14, and free admission with a AAA membership card on Aug. 15.
There are also more than 100 things you can do free at the Fair at, where you can find parking (dedicated motorcycle parking) and route options, plus how to use the Waze phone app for real-time tips on avoiding traffic challenges.
Kiss’ Ace Frehley kicked off the Free Stage on opening Friday. Other entertainment on the free stage include: Indiana Wind Symphony, tonight; Switchfoot, Wednesday; KC & The Sunshine Band, Thursday; Pop 2000 Tour, Friday; Matthew West, Sunday; Happy Together Tour, Aug. 12 (I have seen this show and it is awesome); Sixteen Candles, Aug. 13; Boyz II Men, Aug. 14; Melissa Etheridge, Aug. 15; Everclear, Aug. 16; The Guess Who, Aug. 17; and Gospel Music Festival, Aug. 18.
If you read my Saturday column, then you know that Sheridan Marching Blackhawks earned 22nd place in Friday’s Music For All Indiana State Fair Band Day competition. Plus, watch for upcoming news of Hamilton County 4-H Fair achievers, some of whom qualified to compete at the State Fair.
The weather forecast looks pretty good the next 13 days for the Indiana Fair. See ya there!
-Contact Betsy Reason at