As promised in the September issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer, here's a look back at the 2012 Indiana State Fair through my eyes and my camera lens. I tried to capture some sights most of you probably didn't see, even if you were there.
All in all, the Indiana State Fair did its best to rebound from the tragic 2011 fair. Attendance was about 850,000 for 17 days, about what 12-day fairs sometimes brought in. The 17 days length remains an issue with vendors and volunteers.
Higher admission prices may have taken their toll. When the fair dropped admission prices to $2 on the last Tuesday for one day only, people flooded the gates. You might think someone would see a lesson there somewhere. Maybe prices don't have to be that low, but maybe $12 without pre-admission tickets is a bit steep.
There was a mishap with the stagecoach in the Pepsi Coliseum, and a little girl was seriously hurt, but that happened off the main visitor pathways in the carnival area. Both the driver and parents of the girl worked on the Midway. There are just some accidents you can't prevent no matter what safety policies you put in place.
Speaking of which, every worker, no exceptions, had to take a test online before they could work. That's OK, but one of the questions asked about how you would react to a blizzard. Come on, people. If we're going to train people, let's upgrade the training.
A few visitors thought some of the staff needed training in how to be courteous instead, especially if they inadvertently started to go out the wrong door to an area they shouldn't be.
There were rumors of cheating and rigged shows in the 4-H livestock barns, nothing out of the ordinary. For the most part shows seemed to run smoothly. Everyone, even the dairy kids and 4-H commercial ewe kids got to show this year—well, almost. Swine flu scares caused the hog barn to be emptied at one point after the main 4-H shows were over. Last year those dairy and sheep shows were abruptly canceled due to the stage collapse, and never rescheduled.
The fair still has one big hurdle to overcome, or learn to live with. More and more schools are going to an Aug. 1 start. That made for light crowds until later in the day on several days during the week. It may be a fact of life they must live with unless the schools change their minds.
Take a look at the pictures. See what you missed.