The wondering is over. Those who liked the new Indiana State Fair format of 17 days are no doubt happy. Those who seriously thought it should be evaluated and reversed to the 12-day format are no doubt disappointed.
The Indiana State Fair Commission announced on December 9 approval to stay with the 17-day format. Only this time instead of saying for just three years, the announcement said the recommendation was to stay with this 17-day format 'into the foreseeable future.'
The switch fist took place two years ago in 2009. The reasoning advanced back then was to give all 4-H participants the full State Fair experience. As it was, many judging activities, particularly in 4-H livestock venues, started ahead of the fair.
Some livestock folks preferred the shorter format. Since the fair wasn't officially open, it was easier to park, and there were no gate fees to pay. Now, anyone who comes in after the fair officially opens, even if you're bringing in livestock to exhibit, must either pay the entrance fee or present a pass or pre-sold ticket.
Fair officials argued that kids who showed on those early days and went home, which included again primarily livestock kids, missed out on the experience of the fair. Perhaps more telling, the extension gave the fair a chance to offer Hoosier families a third weekend for a possible fair excursion. It was also supposed to be a buffer against getting caught with a bad stretch of weather, although almost every day was hot and dry in 2010.
Nevertheless, here are the dates for the next three state fairs:
Aug 5-21, 2011
Aug 3-19, 2012
Aug 2-18, 2013
Note that the fair starts the fifth Friday before Labor Day each year. By 2013, the August 2 date may be pushing some county fairs to make decisions about how early they hold their fair, instead of flipping up or back a week with the calendar. So far, Morgan County refused to budge, as their fair overlaps the state fair. They adjusted their livestock shows so that 4-H members could participate in both events. DeKalb County continues to hold its' county fair in September, which is a long-time tradition in northeast Indiana. Many northwest Ohio counties still holed September County Fairs.
Admission for the 2011 fair will be $7 in advance or $8 if purchased at the gate. Ticketakers will spring into auction on Friday, August 5, opening day.