The Indiana State Fair is a spectacle like none other. Every August, agriculture and food-loving fans make their way to the one-mile track and experience all the food, all the fanfare, and all the fabulous animals that Indiana has to showcase. In the spirit of shining light on two fields the American Dairy Association is proud to represent, we’ve decided to share how we experience our love of dairy cows and our love of a healthy diet– yes, it is possible in the midst of deep fried cookie dough!
Where Are The Beautiful Dairy Cows?
One aspect of the Indiana State Fair that simply can’t be missed is seeing animals. Here are the best places around the fairgrounds to see cows and get that down on the farm experience.
The Cattle Barn
A.k.a. the “West Pavilion”, just to the west of the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
Any time until Thursday, Aug. 18, visit the cows in the Cattle Barn. The 4-H Dairy Show was Sunday (August 7th), but there are still two more dairy cow shows on Tuesday (August 16th) and Wednesday (August 17th). You’ll be able to see cows being milked in the milking parlor and pet baby calves in the Pet-a-Calf area run by Purdue Dairy Club.
Cows in the Cattle Barn are “show cows”, the beauty queens of the dairy world. These lovely ladies are pampered, washed, scrubbed, clipped, and groomed until they gleam. Check out the exhibitors as they get the cows ready for their shows and see all the work that goes into getting them ring-ready.
The milking parlor in the Cattle Barn is also fun to see. While it isn’t exactly what would happen on a dairy farm (the milk from the State Fair isn’t used for human consumption because of safety regulations), it is similar. Cows are milked for about ten minutes at a time. First, their udder is sanitized, then the milking machine is attached so it’s gentle vacuum can milk the cow, and then the udder is sanitized again so the cows will stay cleaner once she’s back in her stall.
Cow shows may not be exactly like what happens on a dairy farm, but it’s fun to watch exhibitors show off the best of the best show cows. Make sure to swing by the Youth Pavilion on Tuesday or the Coliseum on Wednesday to see the show!
On the north side of the fairgrounds, behind the Farm Bureau Building, lies the Livestock Nursery. Stop by to see the newest members of the fair–little baby calves. If you’re lucky, you could even see one of the babies being born!
The Glass Barn
Right across the street from the Livestock Nursery is the Glass Barn. Stop by this (air-conditioned) attraction to try your hand at simulated farming.
You can check out the farmer chats every day at 11 am, 2 pm, and 4 pm, where a real farm will video chat with fairgoers from his or her farm. You can ask the farmer questions about their farm, what food they produce, or anything else you’ve always wanted to know.
Is It Really Possible To Take A Healthy Trip To The Fair?
Given the incredible amount of meal offerings that are typically high in fat and sugar, the idea of a “healthy” trip to the State Fair sounds almost impossible to accomplish. But is it?
Health professionals, including Registered Dietitian Nutritionists and wellness experts have long touted the combination of good nutrition and exercise as the best way to stay healthy. Actively working on one of these things may help individuals reach short term goals, however long term efforts are only achieved by concentrating time on both. Here are a few tips for a trip to the fair that won’t demolish your healthy lifestyle plan:
Walk it out!
The one-mile Track of Champions is in the center of the Indiana State Fairgrounds. In order to see and do all of the amazing things at the Fair, one lap around earns a good 2,500 steps (give or take).
Don’t miss a thing.
Taking in exhibits and fun in most of the buildings while taking that lap around the grounds will easily get someone to the 10,000 step mark for the day, roughly 5 miles. With each barn and building chock full of entertainment, education and the occasional air conditioned cool down, it will hardly seem like exercise. Round of mini golf anyone?
Take the stairs.
Heading into a building with stairs? Consider taking them to get that heart pumping, add to the step count and view more exhibits!
Save the ride for last.
Instead of riding the fair shuttle all day to get to and from locations on the fairgrounds, save the ride for the end of the day when everyone’s all tuckered out.
Dance. Dance. Dance.
The Subaru Dance Stage has events going on daily. These demonstrations are great inspiration for an impromptu family dance off with the kiddos in the lawn next to the stage. Let the music move you.
Follow the Wonder Trail.
This activity comes with prizes! The Indiana State Fair has developed an interactive opportunity to educate the family with little known facts scattered at 12 stops throughout the grounds. Pick up a Wonder Trail Map in the Indiana Farm Bureau Building and boost brain power as while getting in that cardio.
Balance the fried and sugar coated goodies likely to be eaten later with a high fiber, protein packed breakfast before you head out. A tasty omelet with veggies and wheat toast or Greek yogurt, fruit and oatmeal will keep bellies full and appetites under control. (Take some inspiration from the Greenhouse Garden.)
Bang for the buck.
Despite popular belief, the Indiana State Fair has a variety of food vendors with items on the menu that provide nutritious options. Choose grilled meats over fried, water over sugary drinks, roasted veggies (hello corn on the cob) and don’t forget items at the Dairy Bar like low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese and the new “Smokin’ Hot” grilled cheese sandwich. (Sriracha Jack Cheese with smoked cheddar on rye bread) This sandwich will provide calcium, high quality protein and fiber, keeping everyone fuller longer.
Sharing is caring. Sharing isn’t just for toys. Buy that indulgent item and split it with friends. This option allows everyone a taste of their favorite treats without adding as many calories. (It also gives more freedom to have more than one tasty tidbit.)
Choose your favorite. Not into sharing? Consider choosing the one yummy treat that the Fair just wouldn’t be the same without, and enjoy. After all of those steps, you’ve earned it!
No matter your intentions at the Indiana State Fair, you’ll have a great time while experiencing our favorite aspects of this tried and true August event! Enjoy!