The Indiana State Fair officially kicked off Friday with activities inside and outside the Coliseum. Inside, the Indiana Pork Producers held their annual ham breakfast.
"This is a great tradition and we're glad to see it continue," says Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who addressed the who's who of agriculture crowd.
Pence also praised the $63 million renovation of the Coliseum, which preserved the original framework but completely renovated everything inside. It will be host to dozens of activities over the next 17 days, including the National Belgian Draft Horse Show. The show had been held in Iowa for 54 years before coming to Indiana this year.
"The Indiana pork industry is key to Indiana agriculture and this state, and forever will be," Pence told the crowd before naming legislation passed earlier this year that helps put agriculture on a solid footing going into the future.
The opening ceremonies held in the Coliseum just after the breakfast featured introduction of the Indiana State Fair Board members. Both Cindy Hoye, director of the fair, and others, including Governor Pence, praised them for their hard work. The Indiana State Fair Commission was also recognized for the important role its members play in insuring that the fair is successful each year.
"This will be the greatest Indiana State Fair ever, and the greatest state fair in the country," Pence proclaimed. "Go home and tell your neighbors they need to come see the renovated Coliseum and enjoy the Indiana State Fair."
Before the program ended, Hoye asked everyone on stage to take small bottles of dirt by their chairs and dump them together into milk cans at the front of the stage. "We saved dirt from the floor of the coliseum before we began. Some bottles have that dirt," she said.
"We also filled some bottles with the new dirt now on the floor. We're going to mingle them together as we dump them into milk cans to show that the old and new are still part of the Coliseum and the fair."
The Indiana State Fair runs through August 17.