Arts » General Arts

NUVO Editors pick the best stuff to do at the State Fair

Bring on the gigantic cheese sculpture


  • Photo by Lora Olive

Sometimes, there’s just too much to do in Indianapolis — and yes, we realize that’s a ridiculous complaint. We promise we’re not complaining! We’re just overwhelmed by this weekend’s awesomeness. The State Fair spreads out over the Near Northside Fairgrounds, and we can practically smell the horse barn from our offices at 38th and Meridian and see the twinkling lights of the Midway

See our top picks at Gen Con — and much more cosplay in the corn — here. 

To celebrate the abundance of excellence, NUVO Editors picked their favorite events going down at the State Fair here, plus at Gen Con, too. We also sent a bunch of our favorite cosplayers to a Hoosier farm to indulge in some pre-Fair harvesting. That’s right. Cosplay in the corn.

Don't forget, Mass Ave Crit is this weekend, too. Whoa.

Those pretty mugs you’re looking at belong to Angel Burlesque, as captured by Lora Olive's lens. 

It’s August in Indiana, friends. Let’s get out there and enjoy it. 

  • Photo by Lora Olive
Amber Stearns, 
News Editor picks: 

4-H Projects
For me the Indiana State Fair is all about education. What is there to learn about Indiana that I didn’t already know? Plenty. You will find me in the Purdue Agriculture Horticulture Building gazing upon the largest pumpkin grown or the best ear of corn. If it can be grown in Indiana, then someone somewhere has adopted it as a 4-H project and brought it to the State Fair. Not to mention the big block of cheese sculpture created every year to celebrate all there is to know and love about Indiana. Why? Because everything’s better with cheese.
Purdue Agriculture Horticulture Building, 1202 E. 38th St. , free with fair admission, all-ages
Indiana’s Bicentennial
With our great state of Indiana celebrating its 200th year of organized existence, the State Fair is celebrating in a variety of ways. Indiana’s history is rich with trains and the railroad, so of course there is a Bicentennial Train to celebrate and learn about our state’s rail history. Personally, I am most excited about the bison art display. The bison is a part of the Indiana state seal and used to roam Indiana. Artists in several counties across the state have “adopted” a bison statue to decorate and all will be on display at the State Fair. Check out the Visit Indiana Bicentennial Pavilion and other other inspired ideas and you have the perfect way to say, “Happy 200th Birthday Indiana!”
Editor’s note: Read a bit more about the 
Bison-tennial in Emily’s picks below.
Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1202 E. 38th St., 

free with fair admission, all-ages

  • Photo by Lora Olive
Emily Taylor
, Arts and Entertainment Editor, picks: 

Subaru Dance Stage
Alright, so most of it is clogging, but my favorite part of this stage is the classic swing dancers from Naptown Stomp. They are one of the few groups in Indy that offer vintage swing classes. There is also everything from Celtic to ballroom to, yes, even belly dancing. Watch for some unexpected ballet, too. Five-Star Ballroom’s show at 8 p.m. should also be worth a stop.
Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1202 E. 38th St.,

free with fair admission, all-ages

Bison-tennial Art Exhibit
August 7, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
This art show is geared toward Indiana’s 200th year birthday mark. Professional artists from around the state have submitted pieces for exhibit over the last year. For more art-related exhibits go to the Indiana Arts building where you’ll get your absolute fill of wool-centered fashion and crafts.
Glass Barn at Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1202 E. 38th St.,

free with fair admission, all-ages

  • Photo by Lora Olive
Cavan McGinsie, 
Food and Web Editor, picks: 

Blues Traveler
August 15, 7:30 p.m.

After a day of gorging on delicious fried foods and Indiana beers there’s no better way to work off all of those calories than dancing the night away to some music, especially when it is led by John Popper’s masterful harmonica skills. I’ll probably hit up multiple shows on the Free Stage. (I mean, they’re freaking free.) But this is the show I am most excited for. It’s a bit nostalgic for me, but if you’ve never been to a Blues Traveler show, after just one you’ll be “Hook”-ed.
State Fair Free Stage, 1202 E. 38th St.

free with fair admission, all-ages
Knights of Valour Jousting
August 14, 1 & 6 p.m.;
 August 15, 16, 17, 2 & 7 p.m.
It’s like those scenes in season one of Game of Thrones before it got all insane and everyone died. (Well, I mean The Mountain did decapitate his horse in the jousting scene, but that most likely won’t be happening here.) You’ll likely see me sitting in the stands eating a turkey leg and drinking a fine pint and trying to give the jousters my lady’s favour. (They never accept; woe is me.) It’s fun to imagine you’re in medieval times cheering on your favorite champion, but the best part is at the end you get to go home to air conditioning and indoor plumbing and Netflix. The modern world is so nice.
Hoosier Lottery Grandstand, 1202 E. 38th St. 

free with fair admission, all-ages

  • Photo by Lora Olive

Katherine Coplen
, Editor

The Bacon Brothers
August 13, 7:30 p.m.
Like Cavan, I like to hang out at the Free Stage after stuffing my face with pork sammies from the pork tent and a gigantic lemon shake-up. Why? Because it’s free, man. This year, the free stage features a pack of throwback rock and folk events, including the Happy Together tour, Night Ranger, Blues Traveler and 38 Special, plus a bunch of country (Maddie & Tae, Clare Dunn, Lauren Alaina, Hunter Smith Band and Neal McCoy) but my ultimate Free Stage show in 2016? Definitely The Bacon Brothers, as in Kevin Bacon. Yup, Mr. Ren McCormack has a band and he’s stopping in Indy this summer, which means I get to finally enter the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. My Bacon Number will become one this summer. #GOALS (P.S. See our interview with Kevin Bacon on page 30.)
State Fair Free Stage, 1202 E. 38th St. 

free with fair admission, all-ages
Indiana Beer, Wine and Spirits Exhibition
August 5 - 21, 1 p.m. - 9 p.m. daily
After recovering from the visceral joy of co-existing in the same fleshspace as Kevin Bacon, venture over to the Grand Hall to taste local beer and wine in tastings and by the glass. There’s special classes on August 8 and 15 for those interested in creating their own liquid masterpieces — we’re mostly interested in drinking them. (P.S. Bet you’ll bump into NUVO Beer Maven, Rita Kohn, at this Exhibition sometime.)
Grand Hall, 1202 E. 38th St. 
free with fair admission, 21+

  • Photo by Lora Olive

Brian Weiss
, Engagement Editor, picks: 

Pioneer Village
Ever since I started visiting the State Fair, this little village has held a special place in my heart. From watching flour be made on a vintage machine to indulging in candy priced just how it was in the 1800s, it’s truly a blast from the past. With daily activities taking place throughout the duration of the fair, you’ll find a unique experience on each visit to the Pioneer Village. First fair trip? The antique tractor parade — taking place every evening except Tuesdays and Saturdays — is a must-see.
Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1202 E. 38th St.
free with fair admission, all-ages
Demolition Derby
August 21, 4:30 p.m.
Angry about Donald Trump being the Republican Presidential candidate? Or maybe Hillary Clinton? Or possibly your neighbor’s dog that won’t stop using the bathroom on your freshly cut lawn? Well, I’ve got the perfect event for you. Watch cars smash into other cars until only only one car remains. If you’ve never experienced a demolition derby, I advise choosing “the car you wish not to be completely annihilated” beforehand and rooting that car all the way to the promised land — survival.
Hoosier Lottery Grandstand, 1202 E. 38th St.
$5 plus fair admission; 5 and younger free with fair admission, all-ages


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