The Indiana State Fair will wrap up this weekend, continuing its multi-million-dollar impact on the state. However, officials at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, which has seen a number of investments over the past few years, are already looking toward the future. Governor Eric Holcomb has proposed using $50 million from the state's budget reserves to make improvements to the historic Swine Barn, which was built in 1923. 

In a recent interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Indiana State Fair Commission Vice President of Development Ray Allison said the improvements to the Swine Barn will have a big impact.

"It's our last historic, open-air building that was built specifically for livestock," said Allison. It hasn't seen much change in almost 100 years and in today's society, even for our livestock exhibitors, they want modern conveniences. They want an enclosed building. They want a safe building, an efficient building, air conditioning, an easy way for them to get their hogs in and out. It's just going to make a huge difference for them. Most importantly, for us, it'll become a year-round event venue like the rest of our buildings and we can rent it on a year-round basis and drive revenue."

Allison said the fair has become a way for agriculture to reach consumers and teach them where their food comes from and what it takes to produce the food that we eat. 

"We take that mission very much to heart. It's part of everything that we do and every year, we think about how we can be better and how we can do more to teach people about modern agriculture and not only the food they eat, but how Indiana farmers and American farmers are helping us feed the world."

A study released late last year showed events at the fairgrounds generated a direct economic impact of more than $197 million on the local economy in 2017.  About $32 million from that total came directly from the Indiana State Fair, which is the state's largest multi-day event.

Allison says the job equivalency to the fairgrounds' impact on the state is almost 1,100 jobs to our local economy. "It makes us really proud that we can play that kind of role in our city and our state 12 months a year."