Near the middle of the Pioneer Our Land Pavilion at the Indiana State Fair, you can find an unusual sculpture. It's not made of cheese- that one is on the other end of the building. This one is made of sand- that's right, play sand, beach sand, the stuff that runs through your fingers. Instead, it's stuck together in an eye-catching sculpture that looks like a man on a tractor pulling a shuttle load of cartoon characters around the track at the Indiana State Fair.
Why in the world is this here, I wondered. Then I noticed the small yellow signs inside the short, white picket fence set up around the display. Each one told a fact about corn or soybean farming, or corn and soybean exports, or corn and soybean use. I had to put my glasses on to read them from outside the fence, but hey, that's because I'm old.
Jane Ade Stevens just happened to be standing nearby. She's the senior marketing advisor for the Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Soybean Alliance. Mark Henderson is the executive director of each entity.
"There is wood framework underneath there," she explained, sensing my marvel at how someone could sculpt this image out of sand. "A couple from Florida do it for us. First, they pack wet sand into the frame. Then they are able to sculpt it."
The idea, of course, was to draw attention first to the sculpture, then to the signs inside the fence. "We had them outside last year and it seemed like everyone was walking up to admire he sculpture but ignoring the signs," she explains. "So we hung them on the inside. If you're not a hundred years old and need bifocals, you can read them!"
OK, she really didn't say the last part. I took writer's poetic license there. Jane and I have known each other for a long time. I'm sure that's what she was thinking! And true enough, with my glasses on, I could make out every interesting fact they wanted the non-farm public to see.
Outside the Pavilion, shuttles ran all day long. The tractors pulling the buses carried signs above their cabs proclaiming they were powered by soy biodiesel. It's just one of the products that the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn marketing Council want to make the general public more award of through the fair, she explained.
If you're still planning a trip to the fair, don't miss out on seeing the sand sculpture.