The Indiana State Fair begins its 17-day run today with a focus on feeding the agriculture industry pipeline. Community Outreach Director Leslie Gordon says exhibits from corporate partners like Elanco Animal Health and Dow Agrosciences let students see how technology has impacted the sector, and gives insight into how it will evolve over time. She says school years beginning earlier has "changed how people go to the fair," but student programs and the extended run have helped keep attendance consistent.
Last year, the fair drew more than 907,000 people, marking its fifth-highest attendance on record. The 2015 event included 12,416 exhibitors representing nearly 45,000 exhibits. It also set records for its opening Saturday and $2 Tuesday. The 2014 fair attracted 954,884 people, making it the third-best attended fair. That was the year the Indiana Beer and Wine Exhibition debuted.
Gordon says organizers continue to embrace technology to help grow the fair. The event has launched an app helping attendees keep track of friends, navigate the fairgrounds, find their cars and rate food.
One major change this year will be the absence of the State Fair Train. The organization that oversees and maintains the 37-mile Nickel Plate line between Tipton and Indianapolis has suspended use of the line by the nonprofit that operates the train. The Hoosier Heritage Port Authority cited safety concerns raised earlier this year by volunteers.
This year’s even runs through August 21.