The Indiana State Fair began in style on Friday, Aug. 3, with the traditional breakfast, followed by several other opening day events. The tent for the kick-off breakfast sponsored by the Indiana Pork Producers was filled, particularly with politicians and would-be politicians.
The event kicked off with an appropriate tradition. The entire audience listened as a great singer with farm ties belted out the National Anthem.
Governor Daniels said his farewell to the Breakfast as Governor, although reminded folks that his new job starting next January when his current role ends will get him an invitation to the Pork Breakfast. "That's why I took the job," Daniels joked. He will become president of Purdue University after he completes his second term as governor. Traditionally, the president of Purdue University is invited to the breakfast. This year the university was represented by interim president Tim Sands, plus provost Vic Lechtenberg, a former dean of the College of Agriculture, and the current dean, Jay Akridge. Several Purdue Extension staff and Joe Anderson, department head in Agronomy within the College of Agriculture, also attended.
Secretary of Agriculture Becky Skillman thanked the crowd for all the support she received during her eight years in the position. She also recognized and thanked the members of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture who were in attendance, including director Joe Kelsay.
She recognized Mike Beard, a pork producer from Tipton, as one of the first people who introduced her to the breakfast during her very first year in office. She thanked him for helping educate here about the pork industry. Beard is a former winner of the Master Farmer award sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.
Missing from opening day was a large opening ceremony. Instead, Governor Daniels and Lt. Governor Skillman each said a few words to the crowd gathered at the Diary Bar before 9 a.m. The Dairy Bar was the chosen site since it is the year of the dairy cow at the Indiana State Fair.
Insiders say that state fair officials opted against a lavish or even traditional opening ceremony in deference to those affected by the state fair grandstand stage collapse one year ago.
Another Habitat for Humanity house under construction at state fair
Also at the Indiana State Fair, be sure to visit the Habitat for Humanity project house being built on the fairgrounds, primarily by agricultural groups. It's located just behind the Indiana FFA Pavilion on the north side of the fairgrounds. During most of the week it should be available for tours so you can get a grasp on how it's going together.
Habitat for Humanity officials say this is the third year in a row that the ag community has backed the guiding of a home for someone in the Indianapolis community. Recipients of the home are expected to invest sweat equity and work alongside volunteers at various stages during the project. The exact permanent location of the home has not yet been released.
Several ag companies came together to raise more than $100,000 for the project. Each day a different ag group volunteers to be the work crew working with the professionals donating their time to make sure that the project comes together as planned. During opening day, volunteers from Dow AgroSciences Company made up the work crew.
Officials say this is not the only place where Habitat for Humanity and ag groups have built a home. However, as far as they know, it's the only place where the partnership has existed for at least three years. When this house is finished, the ag partners will donate a freezer filled with delicious food products to get the new homeowners off to a good start.
Lt. Governor Skillman and other dignitaries, including the state fair board president, Indiana state fair queen and the First Lady of Indiana took the stage during the dedication ceremony to express their thanks to all who have made this project possible. Skillman says it's only possible because various groups within the ag community work together in Indiana.
DuPont Food Pavilion Opens
If you use the excuse to not go to the fair because there is never anything new there, it will be an invalid argument this year. Among the newest additions is the DuPont Food Pavilion, which took over what was Pioneer Our Land Pavilion on Main Street. DuPont is the parent company of Pioneer Hybrids.
Nothing about the building is the same except it is still air conditioned; that alone makes it worth checking out. You'll find a large, interactive display geared to families and children about the food groups on one end of the building. It was designed and is staffed by Purdue University Extension. In the center is a country store, featuring a variety of Indiana-made food products, from noodles to candy to jams.
Various vendors will pass out samples at different times during the week. You can also purchase food items in the store.
At the far end of the building, or west end, there's a mock kitchen set-up. Close your eyes and you might think you're on an episode of 'Top Chef,' the popular cooking show on TV. Three times per day, chefs will do a cooking demonstration, often preparing small samples for the audience to try. The product made during the demonstration will contain Plenish, a soybean oil now marketed by DuPont which is high in oleic acids and contains no trans-fatty acids. It is made from soybeans developed by DuPont Pioneer. The first crop was grown this year, and will be processed in a facility at Frankfort.
"We're very happy to have DuPont providing this building for us to help tell agriculture's story, says David Lowe, a soybean farmer form Dunkirk, and vice-chairman of the Indiana Soybean Alliance.
Officials Test All Hogs for Swine Flu
After at least two outbreaks of swine flu at Indiana county fairs, the Indiana Board of Animal Health provided the manpower to help make sure each animal was checked for temperature before it was allowed onto the grounds. High temperature may have indicated incidence of swine flu.
Denise Derrer, communications director for BOAH, reported that roughly 2,000 hogs were checked. Just days before the Indiana State Fair was scheduled to begin, pigs came up sick at the Monroe County Fair near Bloomington. Rather than take chances, Monroe County Fair officials closed the hog barn to visitors during the remainder of the fair.
Another incidence occurred in LaPorte County. People who worked closely with the animals were also diagnosed with the illness in that situation.
Quick action at the fairs apparently prevented sick animals from being brought to the state fair. Whether those with animals they suspected might be sick chose to keep them at home or whether the threat was overblown in the media and there never was that many sick hogs in the first place is unclear.
Officials were prepared to ask anyone with a hog with a body temperature of 105 degrees F or higher to keep the hog out of the barns. That didn't prove to be necessary, Derrer concludes.