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

Farm-made goodies? Check. Free stuff? Check. Rhubarb? Duh.

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.