Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 Indiana State Fair Day Eleven

Nora will use this blog to chronicle her daily adventures at the Indiana State Fair. 

It was eerie walking in to the Fairgrounds this morning. The familiar sounds of laughter and midway rides and tractors and animals was replaced by solemn silence.

I thought the Fair did a marvelous job with the Remembrance Ceremony. I was struck by how appropriate it was that State Fair Queen, Sara Lynn Alford did not wear her crown. Husband and wife team Steven and Amanda Potaczek of the band 1000 Generations sang their original song, “Fail Us Not.”

Governor Daniels, First Lady Cheri Daniels and Lt. Governor Skillman gave moving talks lauding the heroics of concert audience and other Fair goers. As Governor Daniels reminded us, "There was a hero every ten feet on Saturday night."  

My burst-into-tears moment was when the Pioneer Village volunteers formed a funeral parade with antique tractors and bunting on their wagons.

My laugh-out-loud moment came after I learned that the Pioneer Village folks had “borrowed” the black table clothes to make the bunting from a catering site on the Fairgrounds.

The ceremony reminded me of why I love the State Fair and the folks that make up the community.

When I heard the chug of the steam engine tractor fire up for the threshing demonstrations and whirr of a Lemon Shake Up being shaken, everything seemed just a little bit better.

I spent hours at the Fair today. I was able to tuck into a corner of Normandy Barn and write about the Fair and the music community for two publications, Being on the Fairgrounds was the absolute right place to gather my thoughts. It was lovely to take breaks and soak in the sunshine and noises of Pioneer Village and to walk through the 4-H exhibits and Hook's Museum and wander  aimlessly down Main Street and reconnect with the Fair that I know and love. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

2011 Indiana State Fair Day Ten

Nora will use this blog to chronicle her daily adventures at the Indiana State Fair. 

There was no actual Day Ten of the Indiana State Fair, and rightly so. After the terrible tragedy of the accident on the Grandstand Stage last night, the folks at the State Fair decided to close the Fair for the day. And I'm glad they did. We all need time to digest the loss of five lives and the scores of others that are hurt. 

The rigging on the stage fell after a strong (60 mph) gust of wind caught the canopy. Four stagehands were on the structure at the time and countless other people were under, on, or near the stage. Click here for an account in the Indianapolis Star

I've leaned against that same stage dozens of times waiting for the music to start so I could snap photographs of the concert. 

In front of the Grandstand Stage waiting for the music to start last year. 

In this blog I've been concentrating on my agriculture background, but I got my writing chops by covering music for the last ten years. 

I typically write about the smaller shows; the ones that happen in living rooms and church basements and front porches and midsize venues.

I occasionally get to write and shoot photographs with the big name folks. I always appreciate the generosity of the Indiana State Fair media team in granting me a photo pass for the Grandstand shows. 

As is typical with most big acts, the photographers are allowed to the 'photo pit,' right in front of the stage, before the show starts. Traditionally you get to shoot the first three songs the band plays and then they hustle you out of the way. 

Between my love of music and the State Fair, some of my most satisfied moments have been standing in front of the Grandstand Stage. I remember being just giddy with excitement before the Rick Springfield show last year. 

It was a great feeling standing there, photographing one of my teen crushes, on the grounds of my beloved State Fair and getting to publish the photos for others to see. Doesn't get much better than that for this farm girl. 

I know that all of the folks that work in the business of live music have the same passion. Although the musicians are the main attraction, it literally takes a village to produce a show. There are the stagehands that construct the stage and backdrops and carry the gear, the sound technicians that make everything sound good in all corners of the room/stadium/outdoor venue, the lighting crews that climb up the rigging to make sure the lights hit the right spot every time, and the security people that make sure no one gets hurt during the show. And the fans. The people who love the music and everything that goes with it. 

As tragic as Saturday night was, it reminded me of why I love the State Fair and the people that attend it so. Hoosiers actually ran toward the stage and lifted trusses and carried people to safety. As Indiana's Governor Daniels reminded us, "There was a hero every ten feet on Saturday night." 

The Indiana State Fair will open tomorrow morning with a memorial service for those people caught up in the tragedy. 

Canceling the Fair today was the right thing to do. Yes, it was. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

2011 Indiana State Fair Day Nine

Nora will use this blog to chronicle her daily adventures at the Indiana State Fair. 

My trip to the State Fair was a short one today. I had to be at work at 5:00 and other errands and chores (can you believe that all other activities don't stop during the seventeen day of the Indiana State Fair?) kept me from the Fairgrounds until almost 3:00.

My main goal for today was to purchase one of Doug's magnificent paintings. I'd had my eye on one since I'd seen it in June, but didn't want to be too piggy and purchase it on the first day.

The Daily Parade of antique tractors and County 4-H Queens and mascots of soybeans and tomatoes is one of my favorite things about the Fair. I've managed to hitch a ride on a wagon a few times and I waved and grinned like a nut the whole time.

Sarah Davis, one of the awesome interns at the State Fair took me to see the balcony of the Administration Building. As I kid I'd look up and daydream about how great the view must be and wonder if I'd ever get to be up there. Decades later I made it up there. And it is as amazing as I thought it would be.

Another amazing day at the Indiana State Fair.

Friday, August 12, 2011

2011 Indiana State Fair Day Eight

Nora will use this blog to chronicle her daily adventures at the Indiana State Fair. 

Jennifer Dickie on the set of Indy Style 

I made it to the Fairgrounds just in time to see Jennifer Dickie demonstrate her first place danish recipe for Indy Style. Do you know how involved making danish dough is? I find just reading the recipe a daunting task, let alone making the perfect yeast dough and the having the butter icy cold. I get a little twitchy when I get to the layering and lamination parts of the recipe. Jennifer makes it look easy breezy. 

Click here for Jennifer's demonstration and recipe for Sure Cure Danish. 

Jennifer and her husband, Bill treated me to a delicious BBQ sandwich at the Pork Producers Tent. 

It was a perfect evening for the Night Glow event in the Infield. It was magnificent to see the balloon inflated and lit against the beautiful Indiana sky. 


I'm a huge popcorn fan and look forward to the Kettle Korn booth at the Fair. I grabbed a giant bag of it and happily munched away as I walked around. I've mentioned before that I'm not a Midway person, but ran into a friend who it. It was fun to stand still and soak in the sounds and laughter of the crowd. And there is no way you'll get me on a Ferris Wheel. Ever. But thanks for the offer. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2011 Indiana State Fair Day Seven

Nora will use this blog to chronicle her daily adventures at the Indiana State Fair. 

Nora Spitznogle, Sarah Davis, Douglas David

This evening was the official 'meet the artists night' for the Farm to Fair show. 

It was humbling to hear the memories stirred by the show. I heard several stories of childhoods on the farm and grandmother's journals and other rural tales. 

Gwen has fond memories of pulling weeds with her four sisters and growing up on a working farm. 

It feels odd to watch friends and family and strangers ready my stories and gratifying to hear  that they identified with them. Hearing people laugh while reading the stories is heart-warming. 

My part of the Farm to Fair project is to tie Douglas's farm scenes to the fair scenes. Some were straightforward - dairy cow to a milkshake was easy. Flowers to a pork chop was a little more of a stretch...

The sweet smell of summer flowers help balance some of the not-so-sweet smells of farming. 

I’m looking at you, piglets! Swine have a distinctive odor and I will forever equate that smell with going to visit uncles and cousins and laughter and sunshine.

Lots of little piggies went to market, and several wound up at the State Fair. Indiana farming families sent eight million pigs to market last year – that is enough to meet the pork needs of every Hoosier, and twenty million more people around the U.S. and the world. The pork market is also the leading consumer of Indiana grain. Show your State pride by eating a pork chop at the Indiana Pork Tent. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2011 Indiana State Fair Day Six

Nora will use this blog to chronicle her daily adventures at the Indiana State Fair. 

On the State Fair set of Indy Style - thanks to Sarah Davis for the photo. 

Doug and I had the great opportunity to tape an episode Indy Style to talk about our Farm to Fair exhibit. 

I ended my short visit to the Fair with a Tractor Tram ride around the Fairgrounds - it doesn't seem like a true visit to the Fair unless you've made a loop around the Grounds. 

Another great day at the Fair. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

2011 Indiana State Fair Day Five

Nora will use this blog to chronicle her daily adventures at the Indiana State Fair. 

Nora on stage

So, I'm in an all woman jug band, Alice Chalmers and The Stick a Cork in Your Jug Band. And I play the typewriter and rotary phone. There, I said it.

View from the stage

Playing on the stage in Pioneer Village is the best thing ever. Our band is started with the hope to play at the State Fair and we soon discovered that we (and when I say 'we,' I'm not including myself) were good. Amazing harmonies, music and giggling soon poured from our front porch rehearsals. The fact that we had use for grandmother's aprons and punch bowls was a bonus.

Miss Hamilton County, Phoebe Davis

We were lucky enough to have Miss Hamilton County join us for a song. The two hours flew by and I loved seeing friends and family in the audience. 

Pioneer Village Summer Kitchen

One of the perks of playing in Pioneer Village besides looking out at antique tractors while you perform is getting to grab a drink from the little screened in porch - I've always want to be able to go in there. 

After the show we had a grand time wandering around Pioneer Village and checking out the displays and chatting with folks. 

I especially loved meeting this grandfather/grandchildren trio and hearing about the steam engine tractor he demonstrates at the Fair.

Dad reading my work at the Farm to Fair exhibit

I was anxious to show Dad the Farm to Fair exhibit (Normandy Barn, until August 21, 9:00 to 8:00). It's one thing for strangers to read your work, but I'm nervous about family and friends seeing it. Dad enjoyed it - yay!
This was my first look at the cheese sculpture in progress.

Jennifer Dickie and her champion danish. 

We got to the Home and Family Arts Building just in time to see the lovely Jennifer Dickie win first place in the Fleischmann's Yeast contest. Her recipe is now entered in the national contest. Congratulations Jennifer! 

I wrote on my Farm to Fair bio that my State Fair 2011 goals were to win a blue ribbon on my toffee and to ride in the tractor parade. One goal was realized. I got to ride with the Third Satchel Novelty Jazz Orchestra - and the Hamilton County Fair Queen. 

Phoebe Davis, Miss Hamilton County 2011

Our instructions (besides making sure you don't fall off) were to smile and wave. Like you had to tell me that! 

Everyone loves a parade. And corndogs. 

Jeff and Jodi from Nebraska bring their booth to the Fair every year.

The rain storm didn't start until the parade was almost over. I got soaked on the way to the car as I juggled my typewriter, typing table, jug of flowers, rotary phone and other goodies. The white dress became transparent in the rain. At least the crinoline protected a bit of my modesty.

Another awesome day at the Indiana State Fair. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

2011 Indiana State Fair Day Four

Nora will use this blog to chronicle her daily adventures at the Indiana State Fair. 

Sunset at the Indiana State Fair

Today was the 22nd day in a row of over 90 degree temperatures, so the short evening rain was much appreciated.

As much as I love showing off the Fairgrounds to friends, I also enjoy the times that I am alone and can wander where ever the sights and smells take me. 

This evening the delicious smell of grilled beef took me straight to the Cattleman's Club Hoosier Ribeye Tent for a sandwich. I carried it to a table tucked inside the Cattle Barn. You can't get much closer to the food source than that!

 I'm always happy to have a chance to wear my cowboy rain boots.

I hopped on the tractor tram (powered by soy bio-diesel) for a ride around the Fairgrounds to Pioneer Village. The tractor tram is one of my favorite things about the State Fair. It's only 75 cents for a loop around the Fairgrounds. This evening the tram was fairly empty, but I sort of enjoy it when we're all squished together. It's fun to listen to kids talking about their favorite things at the Fair and marvel at the adults who can juggle a stroller and an elephant ear, while pulling out money to pay for their crew.

 Pioneer Village is celebrating 50 years at the Indiana State Fair and they've added new exhibits. This is the closest I've been to a Conestoga wagon. These mighty wagons were responsible for migration from the east to the west and moving freight before the railroad system was built.

I was thrilled to wander into a hymn sing-along in Pioneer Village. I couldn't carry at tune in a milk bucket, but I happily lip-synced along.

Another great visit to the Indiana State Fair.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

2011 Indiana State Fair Day Three

Nora will use this blog to chronicle her daily adventures at the Indiana State Fair. 

I love it when all of my worlds collide, and today was one of those days.

Today is Elanco Day at the Indiana State Fair. Elanco is working to fight to end hunger in Indiana. They invited the agencies who are working on hunger issues to set up a table at the Fair to tell their stories to the thousands of people that were visiting the State Fair.

I am the Director of Programs at Second Helpings, a food rescue, hunger relief and culinary job-training nonprofit agency. Really amazing things happen in our community every single day. Second Helpings prepares and delivers 2900 meals every day, at no cost, to fifty other social service agencies. We have a free ten-week culinary job-training class for unemployed adults.

I'm very proud of the partnership we have with the 4-H organization. This is the second year that we have picked up the vegetables exhibited by the county champion 4-H projects. In the past the vegetables were on display throughout the duration of the Fair. As you can imagine, the green beans and beets and tomatoes were looking weary, if not down right scary by the end of the Fair. Now the veggies are turned in to nutritious meals for the hungry folks in our State.

This year we picked up 1200 pounds of vegetables that were grown in all 92 Indiana counties. My heart swells at the thought that thousands of people are eating better thanks to the hard work of the 4-H kids in our State.

I'll admit that I popped a cherry tomato in my mouth when the veggies got to Second Helpings. It was championship good!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

2011 Indiana State Fair Day Two

Nora will use this blog to chronicle her daily adventures at the Indiana State Fair. 

 Today was my first chance to get in to the Home and Family Arts Building to see how my Open Show entries fared. I'd baked snickerdoodle cookies, made English toffee and entered things in the antique division.

English toffee is my signature item. Or was. In the past I've been able to whip up a perfect batch of toffee with my eyes closed. Not this year. Out of six attempts there was only one that even looked good enough to enter. I was not surprised that I didn't get a ribbon on the toffee.

I was was happily surprised to see a third place ribbon on the snickerdoodles, there was lots of great competition in that category.

In the antiques division I'd entered the Ugly Lamp competition, but mine didn't place - I can never decide whether it is good or bad not to have the ugliest lamp. I was excited for my friend Novella, who took the blue ribbon - she deserved it, for sure! 

The piece I entered in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race memorabilia won the blue ribbon. Yay!

Anyone can enter projects in the Open Show divisions. There is a small fee, but you get enough Fair tickets to cover the cost of entering. Click here for details. 

From there I walked to the Normandy Barn to check out the Farm to Fair exhibit. I was thrilled to see folks there and talking about their farming experiences. This is exactly what we were aiming for.

I made a quick stop at the Dairy Barn for a grilled cheese sandwich, retrieved my bike from the lovely volunteers in the Pedal and Park tent and rode the Monon Trail home.

Friday, August 5, 2011

2011 Indiana State Fair Day One

Nora will use this blog to chronicle her daily adventures at the Indiana State Fair. 

Opening of the 2011 Indiana State Fair

I was afraid that my decade-long streak of attending the Fair every single day was going to end on the first day. I had work (the very awesome Second Helpings) commitments that stretched from 9:00 in the morning to 10:00 at night. 

A friend saved me with an invitation to the 6:45 a.m. Pork Producers Ham Breakfast.

The tent was chock-full of Indiana Agriculture leaders, but the standing ovation was saved for First Lt. Bart Lomont. Bart was part of the  Indiana 3-19th Agribusiness Development Team returning to Indiana after nearly a year in Afghanistan.  I was lucky enough to sit next to his parents - who were surprised by his early arrival the night before.

I was happy to learn that the Opening Day Ceremony was going to take place in Pioneer Village, my favorite corner of the Fairgrounds. The Village has new exhibits this year to celebrate their 50th anniversary (Pioneer Village and I are the same age - they seem way more excited about 50 than I am).

The ceremony had everything a State Fair Opening Day Ceremony should have. 4-H'ers, FFA kids, corny jokes- whoops, it is the Year of the Soybean - beany jokes, the Mayor of Indianapolis, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Fair Queen, washboard music and a ten-year 4-H member singing the National Anthem.

A fabulous kick off to the 167th Indiana State Fair. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Farm to Fair

The exhibit is hanging and beautiful.

Douglas' work is amazing and some of his best yet.

Please come and see us at the historic Normandy Barn. We'd love to meet you!