Indiana State Fair | Exploring the Midwest Podcast Episode 23

Last Updated on February 9, 2022 by Jody Halsted

Continuing ‘State Fair Season’ with the Midwest state fair that runs the longest.

The Indiana State Fair takes place from July 30 thru August 22 in 2021 – a grand total of 18 days, a week longer than most state fairs.

My guest Sharon Smith, Director of Communications for the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center, is going to share the history and highlights of the Indiana State Fair – and hopefully a few ‘insider tips’ to help you make the most of your visit!


The Indiana State Fair

The Indiana State Fair began in 1892, which means 2021 will be the 164th fair.

It began in Downtown Indianapolis and moved to different communities throughout the state before returning to midtown Indianapolis at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

The fair begins on a Friday at 8:30am with opening ceremonies featuring the governor and other dignitaries.

Midway Arch

Fun Features of the Indiana State Fair

The Indiana State Fair has an annual theme – 2021 is ‘Celebrating the Hoosier Spirit’.

Iconic locations on the fairgrounds include the Midway Arch and Indiana Farmer’s Coliseum.

The grandstand, where all types of events from rodeo and demolition derby to bands and cheerleading competitions, is a popular spot. As is Pioneer Village where you take a step back in time.


Free Entertainment

The free stage at the Indiana State Fair features acts that most state fairs charge extra to see.

In 2021 those performers include Babyface, Josh Turner, Vince Neil, and The Beach Boys. You can even take part in a Latino festival.


100 Free Things to Do

Free fun abounds at the Indiana State Fair! Use the 100 Free Things guide on the website to help plan your day.

Some activities, like fishing at the DNR pond, baby goat petting at Goat Mountain, and the new Bubble Tower are daily.

Other events only happen on scheduled days, but the 4-H Performing Arts show, the Deep Fry Dash for Damar, and the Celebrity Milking Competition are just a few activities worth building your schedule around.

Miss Piggys Mac Daddy
Fruit Twister Paradise Pop

Fair Food

Studies have proven that food is the #1 reason people visit the Indiana State Fair. Traditional favorites like corn dogs, funnel cakes, elephant ears and buttered corn vie with new fair foods including a Buttermilk Wafflewich, the Winner Winner Chicken Dinner bowl, Miss Piggy’s Mac & Cheese, and the Fruit Twister Paradise Pop for your dining dollars.

View more new fair foods!


Insider Tips for Visiting the Indiana State Fair

$3 Thursdays

August 5, 12 & 19 get $3 gate admission, $3 Midway rides and $3 food options at each food stand (items are smaller – that just means you can taste more!).

Parking & Transportation

Gat all the info you need – from directions and parking to transportation options and a venue map on the Indiana State Fair website.

The Hoosier Cruiser

This “Super Wheel” stands 150 feet tall and has 36 climate controlled gondolas. (Like the High Roller in Las Vegas or the London Eye.) $10 per ride, or $15 for a VIP experience. FYI: Midway wristbands are not valid on the Hoosier Cruiser.

Find it on the north side of the fairgrounds in Hoosier Spirit Park next to the Farm Bureau building.

Get all the information, safety procedures, as well as deals & discounts at

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