Why is the state fair held so early this year? It's a question I've heard poised more than once while traveling the state this summer. The truth is it only seems like it's earlier because it's the second of a three-year trial of a 17-day run for the fair. It replaced the traditional 12-day run which had been practiced for years.
The practical reason is that schools start so early. With air-conditioned buildings, there's no longer the excuse that it will extremely hot in building for kids if school starts in August. Many schools, even rural schools, come back into session to begin the 2010-2011 school year the week of August 9, the first full week of the fair.
The conflict, which can hurt fair attendance, was so intense last fall that a legislator introduced legislation to say that public schools couldn't open until after Labor Day, which was once a traditional starting day for schools in Indiana.
The legislator's intention wasn't just to support the state fair. It's also to support Indiana's tourism attractions, giving people more time to visit the attractions, such as amusement parks, before they close down for the summer, primarily because schools are open. No action was taken by the legislature, however. Wisconsin also depends heavily upon tourism, especially in the Dunes area, and there is a law in that state that school doesn't begin again until after Labor Day.
Not all county fairs are intimidated by the early state fair start date. For example, the Morgan County fair, running next week as well, overlaps with the beginning days of the Indiana State fair. Morgan County so far has decided to keep its traditional fair dates rather than move just because the state fair moved a few says earlier.
Livestock shows of the 4-H variety in all three commercial species, hogs, cattle and swine, begin in earnest the first weekend of the fair. Open shows, especially for hogs, come alter ion the fair cycle. Look for more information coming here soon about dates for various livestock shows at the fair.