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Indiana State Fair: A NUVO guide

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It may officially be the Year of Soybeans at this year's Indiana State Fair, but to us it's the Year of Liars, Year of Watermelon Spittin', Year of Lumberjacks, an opportunity for us to embrace the Hoosier corn-pone and relegate our hipster proclivities to a back seat, so to speak.

We've poured over the schedule and selected the best of each day's offerings for the two-week stint, and here's what NUVO staffers have identified as the best bets for maximum State Fair enjoyment. (check in.gov/statefair for a complete schedule).

Aug. 5, Friday
Liar's Contest @ Pioneer Village, 7 p.m.
Do you have a tall tale or fishing story of improbable detail? Does you dad swear he once captured Bigfoot in a trap, only to set the elusive creature free? Showcase your story-spinning skills in the 3rd Annual Liar's Contest. Judged by three storytelling experts, this contest features cash prizes for first, second and third place in adult and youth divisions. Registration starts at 6 p.m. Full contest rules at www.storytellingarts.org.

Aug. 6, Saturday
Monster Truck Nationals @ Grandstand, 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Thundering engines and earth-shaking trucks will be on display at the E3 Sparkplugs Monster Truck Nationals. Car carnage unparalleled in any other sport will surely grab your attention and never let go. With monster trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds, these behemoths will race and pop wheelies in an eye-popping spectacle. Fan favorites will compete in this family-friendly show. Admission to see the monster truck fury is $5.

Aug. 7, Sunday
Super Pull @ Grandstand, 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Do you love the sound of a roaring engine? Would you secretly love to drive a giant semi-truck? This is the event for you. The event is sure to be exciting, as truck drivers will compete in different classes during two different pulls at the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand. Sponsored by Lucas Oil, this pull is considered the crown jewel of truck and tractor pulling. Drivers will compete for a $49,500-prize purse. Free with admission.

Aug. 8, Monday
Timberworks Lumberjack Show @ Riley Fun & Fitness Park, 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m.
Get in touch with your inner manly-man and watch the Timberworks Lumberjack Show.This world-class lumberjack competition has events ranging from throwing an axe from 20 feet away at a five-inch bull's-eye to log rolling. If that's not enough, you can watch hot sawing — a chainsaw slicing through a log like butter — or competitors racing up a 45-foot pole in speed pole climbing. Three free shows daily.

Aug. 8, Monday
"Year of Soybeans" @ Pioneer Pavilion, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
There's soybean fun all over the fair this year, starting with the "Year of Soybeans" exhibit in the Pioneer Hi-Bred Our Land Pavilion. Soybean farming is a $2.5-billion industry in the state of Indiana alone. Along with the exhibit, check out the Soybean Mural in the Ellison Bakery Home & Family Arts Building, the Habitat for Humanity Home Build project created with soybean products, and the Indiana Soybean and Cornhole Toss Tourney (August 19-21).

Aug. 9, Tuesday
Take a break from diets and weight watching for these 27 days and dive into the popular fair foods like fried ice cream from Baskin Robbins. This fair food specialty resembles the Mexican dessert, complete with soft ice cream on the inside, crisped on the outside and topped with chocolate, caramel and whipped cream. If you're into the fried foods, take notice of the deep-fried butter, deep-fried Kool-Aid and doughnut burger.

Aug. 9 & 16, Tuesdays
$2 Tuesday @ State Fair, 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Trying to save some money but don't want to miss out on the State Fair and all it entails? Mark your calendars for $2 Turkey Hill Dairy Tuesdays and $2 Taste of the State Fair Tuesdays! On both the 9th and 16th, entrance is only $2 with printed voucher from www.turkeyhill.com/indianastatefair.

Aug. 10 Wednesday
Blue Monkey Sideshow @ Dow Agro-Sciences Celebration Park, 3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 9 p.m.
The popular circus acts of the Blue Monkey Sideshow return to the State Fair this year.With acts involving juggling, sword swallowing, bullwhip mastery, beds of nails and more, the family-friendly entertainment is a nice change of pace from the pastoral spectacles typical of the fair. With performers named Krembo, Skanky and Freakshow Foley, it's bound to be good. Runs through Sunday the 21st.

Aug. 10, Wednesday
The Big Cheese Unveiling @ Pioneer Pavilion, 12 p.m.
Love cheese? Love sculptures? Check out Sarah Kauffman's (a.k.a. The Cheese Lady) latest sculpture at the State Fair. Known nationwide for her unique brand of artistry, the Wisconsin-native took her state's punch line and turned it into art. In years past, she's molded cheddar and Colby jack into cows playing football, the Eiffel Tower and more. Free with admission.

Aug. 11, Thursday
The Stars of the Peking Acrobats @ Dow AgroSciences Celebration Park, 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m.
Since 1958, the Stars of the Peking Acrobats have been performing their feats of athleticism and artistry. The Peking Acrobats amass the best gymnasts, jugglers, cyclists and tumblers from China and tour the world. These amazing shows will display aspects of Chinese culture in a truly entertaining way. With body parts contorted as if independent from the rest of their body, these acrobats are sure to put on an impressive show.

Aug. 11, Thursday
Hoosier Heritage Day @ State Fair Boulevard, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Experience the rich history of Indiana on Hoosier Heritage Day. Re-enactors of Madame C.J. Walker, Raggedy Anne, Abraham Lincoln and more will be performing throughout the day. Fairgoers can learn about Indiana's participation in U.S. wars by talking to these historical re-enactors. You can also test your Hoosier knowledge by playing history trivia games and puzzles. If you're tired of walking around, take a trolley tour and learn about State Fair building history. Free with admission.

Aug. 12, Friday
Giant Hot Air Balloon Night Glow @ Infield, 8:45 p.m.
The Night Glow will be an exceptional sight to see. Giant hot air balloons will be inflated, but will not leave the ground so spectators can walk among the balloons. This will be a great photo opportunity as the hot air balloon burners illuminate the beautiful fabric of the balloons against the twilight sky. If you enjoy this event, you might want to come back out early Saturday morning for the Giant Hot Air Balloon Race. The race starts at approximately 6:50 a.m. in the infield. Both are free with admission.

Aug. 12, Friday
World's Largest Drive-Thru Breakfast @ Main Street, 6 a.m. – 8 a.m.
There's more to this new state fair event than food for you and your family. Not only does $3 get you a beef and egg burrito and coffee, juice or milk, but also a gallon of E10 for your vehicle! Be sure to wake up early enough to attend this new event and support the 4-H Education Complex Renovations, which receives all proceeds from the drive-thru.

Aug. 13, Saturday
Heartland Walk for Health @ Grandstand Side Lot, 8 a.m.
Indiana's First Lady, Cheri Daniels, will lead the 7th Annual Heartland Walk for Health. The walk promotes physical fitness and aims to increase awareness that heart disease is the leading health threat to Hoosiers. The event consists of a light breakfast and brief warm-up, followed by a two-lap circuit walk around the State Fairgrounds' famous one-mile Track of Champions. All participants will receive a t-shirt and goodie bag, along with the chance to win great prizes from local businesses. A good cause and free stuff? Sounds like a good time to us! Free with admission.

Aug. 13, Saturday
Backyard BBQ Cook-off @ Shoup's, 6 a.m. – 9 p.m.
This all-day event kicks off with set-up and cooking at 6 a.m., judging between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and samplings at the sponsor Shoup's booth starting at 12:30 p.m. Awards distributed after all categories of judging are complete. To participate in this event, fill out the team application by August 1. Entry fee is $15 for each individual category. To enjoy the free samples, the scent of delicious BBQ or the music and parade, stop by anytime during the event.

Aug. 14, Sunday
Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest @ Ball State Agriculture and Horticulture Building, 1 p.m. daily
Looking for an opportunity to play with your food? Interested in some good Indiana competition? To participate in this contest, you'll need to start practicing now and perfecting your seed spitting skills. You can even watch the contest each day at 1 p.m. to prepare! One chance is all you get to spit your seed further than all other competitors to earn the title.

Aug. 14, Sunday
Marsh Parade @ Main Street, 6:30 p.m. daily
What's a fair without a parade? Lucky for Indiana, our state fair has one daily. The Marsh Daily Parade heads down Main Street of the fairgrounds. It is a perfect way to end the day, showcasing all of the festivities. During the parade, you will hear great music, see costumed characters and experience antique tractors and numerous other fair favorites. Free with admission.

Aug. 15, Monday
Hoosier Rodeo Series Finals @ Grandstand, 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
A State Fair staple, you do not want to miss this free event! Get in on all the action as qualifying competitors compete in the Hoosier Rodeo Series Finals. International Professional Rodeo Association (IPRA) members have competed throughout the month of July and were awarded points for each competition they entered and each time they placed in the top six. Now you can see the best of the best compete Monday at the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand. Free with admission.

Aug. 16, Tuesday
Rooster Crowing Contest @ Poultry and Rabbit Building, 10 a.m. & 4 p.m.
Most of us don't wake up to the crowing of a rooster. For those masochists who wish they could, this hilarious event may be the one for you. With three days of competition, roosters from across the state vie to be Cockledoodliest rooster that ever did crow. Two birds enter and, well, two birds leave, but one definitely out-crows the other! Same time, same place Wednesday, Finals @ 4 p.m. Friday. Free with admission.

Aug. 16, Tuesday
Spay/Neuter Demonstration @ Pioneer Pavilion, 11 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Listen to Bob Barker! Have your pet spayed or neutered. For those interested in veterinary sciences, medicine, surgery, cutting down on stray pet population or just have a morbid fascination with cutting into things, Purdue University and Indiana Veterinary Medical Association vets will host narrated demonstrations of spay/neuter surgeries on Indy Humane Society animals. Audience members may ask questions during the demo. Demonstration will take place all days except August 10, 15, 17 and 20. Free with admission.

Aug. 18, Thursday
Free admission for military personnel and families @ State Fair, all day
Indiana is honoring all current and former members of the Armed Forces by offering free admission to them and their family members. A military ID, DD Form 214 or other recognized Veterans organization membership card must be presented in order to receive free admission. For a list of charted organizations that will be accepted as proof of service, visit http://www.in.gov/statefair/fair/tickets/discounts.html. And if free admission isn't enough, it is also family day on the Midway with unlimited rides from noon to 10 p.m. for $22!

Aug. 18, Thursday
Fido 500 @ Grandstand Side Lot, 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m. & 5 p.m. daily
Aren't Dachshunds funny when they run? We sure think so, which is why we'll be at the Fido 500 and Weiner 100 to get our laughs for the day. Featuring purebred athletes from around the country, there are individual races for Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers and more.

Aug. 19, Friday
Harness Racing @ Grandstand, 10 a.m.
View the majestic strength and power of a horserace, filled with the very real dangers for the drivers. In harness racing, people ride in two wheeled carts called sulkies that are powered by very eco-friendly one horsepower engines. The catch? The horses can't sprint, but must move at a certain gait (either a trot or a pace) to the finish line. Truly a race of skill and power, this is a great way to start your Friday. Free with admission.

Aug. 20, Saturday
Old-time Farm & Antique Auction @ Pioneer Village, 10 a.m.
Near the end of the fair and you still have some cash to spend? Head out to the Old-time Farm & Antique Auction at Pioneer Village. You'll see a variety of old Indiana-related antiques waiting to be purchased and sent off to a new home. The auctioneer is just as anxious to get these antiques shipped off, so bring your wallet and a good eye! Free with admission.

Aug. 21, Sunday
Demolition Derby @ Grandstand, 4:30 p.m.
A great event to celebrate the end of another incredible season for the Indiana State Fair, the Lucas Oil Demolition Derby is the grown-up version of bumper cars. Winner of the event not only receives the coveted title of "Indiana State Fair Champion" but also prize money. Following the demolition derby, stick around for fireworks to conclude your State Fair experience. $5 for derby and free fireworks show.

Aug. 21, Sunday
State Fair Queen Pageant @ Pepsi Coliseum, 12 p.m.
This year marks the 53rd Annual Queen Pageant. Beautiful, poised, confident and well-spoken county fair queens from across the state will compete for the Miss Indiana State Fair title. Contestants are judged on three categories — interview, evening gown and professional wear. The new Miss Indiana State Fair will receive a $1,000 cash prize, a $1,000 wardrobe, tiara, trophy and various other gifts. Only $6 to be a part of this timeless tradition.


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