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The mouth-watering smell of funnel cakes, porkburgers and any number of fried delights will be hanging in the air.
Adrenaline-fueled screams will echo from the midway as visitors test their courage on the swirling, twirling rides. Live music bounces around the concourse. Barns filled with the best of Indiana’s livestock, tables of creative endeavors and individual projects, and exhibits about everything from butterflies to urban gardens to pioneer life will be packed with people.
That’s right — the Indiana State Fair is back.
After the pandemic forced the fair to be cancelled in 2020, the king of all Indiana summertime traditions is back with three weeks of entertainment, excitement and, of course, eating. The state fair is scheduled from June 30 to Aug. 22, and while organizers have kept the favorites that everyone looks forward to, they’ve also planned a wealth of enticing new food and features to keep visitors coming back.
Here’s everything to know before you plan you trip:
This is the reason that many, many people come to the state fair each year. The chance to gorge on fried everything — potatoes, chicken, tenderloin, Oreos, cheesecake bites — is a once-a-year opportunity.
Everyone has their favorites. But with the Taste of the Fair contest, organizers have put together some truly monumental options and wild flavors to savor.
Enjoy layers of chopped smoked beef brisket, mashed potatoes, and smokey barbecue sauce with the Beef Parfait. Cheddar and American cheeses come together between two buttermilk waffles in the Buttermilke Wafflewich. The Fruity Pebbles Funnel Cake combines Fruity Pebbles cereal and a classic funnel cake with powdered sugar and icing for a treat that takes you back to your childhood.
The Outlaw Burger features a quarter pounder with pepper jack cheese, peanut butter, and jalapeño jelly served on a toasted bun. The BBQ Suga Momma is pulled barbecue turkey served between two fresh donuts.
A full rundown of the Taste of the Fair offerings can be found at indianastatefair.com/p/state-fair/food–shopping/taste-of-the-fair.
Take in the entirety of the fairgrounds from a bird’s-eye view on the state fair’s newest attraction. The Hoosier Cruiser Ferris Wheel will take visitors up 150 feet into the air on what is the largest ferris wheel in the state of Indiana.
Guests can enjoy one of the wheel’s 36 climate-controlled gondolas that comfortably seat 4 to 6 people. The ride will operate daily throughout the run of the fair. Tickets are $10 per rider, or $15 for an upgraded VIP experience.
Groovin’ to the music
For music lovers of all genres and eras, the state fair has become the go-to place for free concerts each summer by top touring acts. This year’s slate will feature shows by R&B legend Babyface, Mötley Crüe lead singer Vince Neil, and the Beach Boys.
Top-notch tribute bands, such as Barracuda, doing the songs of Heart, Grateful Dead act HYRYDER and ’90s party band Run Forest Run will bring some of your favorite songs to life. The Happy Together Tour — boasting The Turtles, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, The Association, Classics IV, The Vogues and The Cowsills — will stoke your nostalgia for the ’50s and ’60s. For those in a breezy, easy listening kind of mood, Yacht Rock Night with Atlanta Rhythm Section, Firefall and Orleans is for you.
Latino-Fest is set to feature AK7, Banda Blanca and La Sonora Dinamita de Colombia to get you up and dancing, while Gospel Music Festival with headliner Hezekiah Walker promises to lift up voices in praise.
A different act is set for every day of the fair. Here’s the full schedule:
- July 30: State Fair Yacht Rock Night with Atlanta Rhythm Section, Firefall and Orleans
- July 31: John Waite and Kyle Cook of Matchbox Twenty
- Aug. 1: Mary Mary
- Aug. 4: Josh Turner
- Aug. 5: Run Forrest Run, Ultimate 90s Party Band
- Aug. 6: Noah Cyrus
- Aug. 7: Blanco Brown
- Aug. 8: Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds
- Aug. 11: for King & Country
- Aug. 12: HYRYDER, a tribute to the Grateful Dead
- Aug. 13: Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe
- Aug. 14: Home Free
- Aug. 15: Casting Crowns
- Aug. 18: Happy Together Tour featuring The Turtles, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, The Association, Classics IV, The Vogues, The Cowsills
- Aug. 19: Barracuda, America’s Heart Tribute
- Aug. 20: The Beach Boys
- Aug. 21: Latino-Fest at the Indiana State Fair, presented by Radio Latina, featuring AK7, Banda Blanca and La Sonora Dinamita de Colombia
- Aug. 22: Gospel Music Festival with headliner Hezekiah Walker
The TapRoom and Backyard Outdoor Bar
After walking all over the fairgrounds in the summer sun, taking in exhibits and over-indulging on food, sometimes you just need to take a break.
The over-21 crowd can find their oasis in the Grand Hall, where Hoosier breweries, wineries and distilleries will be pouring every day. Visitors can do tastings, or enjoy full servings of a rotating selection of beers, wines and spirits. Seating in the (air conditioned) hall is plentiful, making it an ideal resting spot on a hot day.
New this year is the Backyard Outdoor Bar, an exterior family-friendly space where people can grab a seat, sip on a cold beer and munch on a brat while listening to live music and playing yard games. Not only does it provide some well-needed shade and down time, but with its location just off the main concourse, it offers a prime place to do some people-watching.
Try it for free
From admission to food to the rides, going to the fair is going to cost you. But that doesn’t mean that everything has to involve shelling over hard-earned cash. Plenty of options are available for free fun throughout the run of the event.
Putt-putt is offered every day at the FFA Pavilion. At the DNR Fishing Pond, kids can make their cast and try to reel in a big one. New this year is the Bubble Tower, a solar powered bubble toy located in the Family Fun Park. Kids can learn all about forest wood with interactive play spaces in Forever Forest, or try their hand at farming at the Little Hands on the Farm exhibit.
Fair organizers have put together a list of 100 free activities to do at the fair. Find it at indianastatefair.com/p/state-fair/general-information/100-free-things-to-do.
If you go
The Indiana State Fair
When: July 30 to Aug. 22; the fair is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
Where: Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1202 E. 38th St., Indianapolis
Tickets: $10 advance online, $13 at the gate, children 5 and under free; parking $8 advance, $10 at the gate
Information and full schedule of events: indianastatefair.com
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