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When will horticulture get new building at Indiana State Fair?When will horticulture get new building at Indiana State Fair?

Hoosier Perspectives: The Indiana Farm Bureau Fall Creek Pavilion is a rousing success for swine exhibitors. But horticulture enthusiasts are still searching for a permanent home.

Tom J. Bechman

August 21, 2023

3 Min Read
Attendees at a horticulture exhibit
TEMPORARY LOCATION: Open class horticulture exhibits, or at least most of them, were displayed in the lobby of the Indiana Farmers Coliseum because the Horticulture Building was diverted to use as the Mercantile Building. Photos by Tom J. Bechman

Swine exhibitors waited decades for a new facility at the Indiana State Fair. The Indiana Farm Bureau Fall Creek Pavilion is a multi-use facility, designed for showing hogs. That was evident during its inaugural state fair in 2023.

Yes, there were glitches. For example, drains in wash racks weren’t positioned correctly. That can be fixed. Overall, accolades for the new facility poured in from exhibitors and state fair paying customers alike. Indiana Farm Bureau, the Indiana State Fair Board, the Indiana State Fair Commission and the Indiana General Assembly all deserve congratulations.

However, I believe there needs to be at least one more addition to the fairgrounds. Producing crops, vegetables and fruits is big business in Indiana. Yet those who exhibit crops or horticulture-related items at the state fair no longer have a permanent home. They’ve become vagabonds. A frequently asked question this year was, “Where are the vegetables and garden exhibits?”

The answer was, “It depends.” Open class vegetables and some crop exhibits were diverted to the lobby of the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. And while those working that display liked the exposure, some fairgoers scratched their heads, wondering, “Why here?”

To see 4-H gardening, you went to a 4-H exhibit building. To see the largest pumpkin, you went where you always did. However, a banner out front declared it the Mercantile Building instead of the Horticulture Building. Most of that building was devoted to commercial exhibits.

A few years ago, those exhibits were in Exposition Hall. But with age catching up with the building housing rabbits and poultry, those projects moved there.

Personal observations

I have experienced some of these growing pains myself. It’s been my pleasure to judge Backyard Gardening, a popular category encouraging backyard, everyday gardeners to exhibit vegetables flowers, fruits and more in a competition separate from open class.

Originally, it was held in the back of the Horticulture Building. During the transitional 2022 fair, judging took place in the center foyer of the Family Arts Building. This year, it happened in the lobby of the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

tables holding gardening exhibits inside a room

Here’s the bottom line. In a state where crops and specialty crops are vital, exhibitors deserve to be together in a modern, state-of-the-art facility, just like livestock exhibitors. Does it need to be huge? No. Does it need to be functional? Absolutely. And it needs to be visible so there’s no need to ask, “Where are the vegetables?”

After all, you can’t display the “tallest sunflower” vertically in the Coliseum lobby. By laying it on a board and displaying it horizontally, something is lost in the translation!

Those who believe in the Indiana State Fair have accomplished good things recently, with the Indiana Farm Bureau Fall Creek Pavilion being the latest example. But the job isn’t done. Those who produce crops and vegetables need a place to call home, too, if just for a couple of weeks each year.

Read more about:

Indiana State Fair

About the Author(s)

Tom J. Bechman

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman is editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

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