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10 Reasons to Hit the DuPont Food Pavilion at the Indiana State Fair

Earlier this month, IM reported that the Indiana State Fair—that bastion of deep-fried butter—was taking baby steps toward appealing to a more refined class of locavores and epicureans, primarily at the DuPont Food Pavilion. This is your last weekend to check it out for yourself. Here are 10 reasons why you should:

1. The canning demonstration (Saturday, 3 and 5 p.m.). Your grandmother would be proud.

2. Better yet, you can buy a jar of strawberry-and-rhubarb jam from FARM Bloomington, peel off the label, and tell your grandmother you canned it.

3. Free popcorn.

4. At a maple-syrup sampling from Burton’s Maplewood Farm in Medora, you can taste the difference between sap tapped in mid-January and mid-March. Pancakes not included.

5. The Brewers of Indiana Guild has a petition you can sign to bring beer (and wine) back to the Fair. (The guild’s table has a framed black-and-white Fair photo from 1946, in which a “Cold Beer” banner is clearly visible in the background.)

6. The Hoosier Market. Sure, you could drive all over the state buying noodles from Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury, peppermint-scented goat’s milk soap from Daniels Creek Farm in Peru, and sweet dill pickles from Grannie’s Garden in Brookston. But why?

7. The building is air-conditioned.

8. Better-than-average swag. I scored three sweet Bloomington Brewing Co. stickers, a temporary tattoo that reads “Drink Indiana,” and a rearview air freshener from Red Gold Tomatoes.

9. Old Fashioned Sour Lemon Drops from Schimpff’s Confectionary in Jeffersonville.

10. Visiting the pavilion (and buying stuff at the Hoosier Market) is a vote of confidence in program manager Brian Blackford—a self-described “foodie” who wants to add even more spoonfuls of local sugar to the State Fair pie. “The farm-to-fork connections may be somewhat overshadowed by the latest fried treat (something that is also a fun tradition),” he says. “But they do exist in places like the DuPont Food Pavilion.” And if the pavilion gets too crowded, Blackford’s bosses will have to make more room.

For a complete DuPont Food Pavilion lineup, visit the State Fair website.


Since first joining Indianapolis Monthly in 2000, West has written about a wide range of subjects including crime, history, arts and entertainment, pop culture, politics, and food. His feature stories have twice been noted in the Best American Sports Writing anthology and have received top honors from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. “The Collapse,” West’s account of the 2011 Indiana State Fair tragedy, was a 2013 National City and Regional Magazine Awards finalist in the category of Best Reporting. He lives on the near-east side.