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I Spy ...


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I Spy With My Little Eye something that has a generous spectrum of colors. I Spy something that smells of roasted corn on the cob, fried elephant ears, barnyard animals and exhausts from chugging tractor engines. I Spy something that sounds of blaring music, buzzers, throttling motors and shrilling crowds on wild rides.

I Spy the Indiana State Fair -- the old-timey, gaudy marvel that remains one of my favorite annual events.

Living in Indianapolis, I find many things to boast about this city. Topping that list every year at this time is the Fair. Yes, it's loud, sticky, colorful and abundant, but I love it.

Now, I know that some of you urban sophisticates will sniff and turn up your noses at the very thought of the Fair, but I want you to know that it is more than farm animals, greasy foods and cornball hokum.

It is multi-layered, and it is deeply, particularly Hoosier.

Strolling around the fairgrounds, I Spy a feast for the senses at every turn -- in the buildings and booths and all along the midway.

The first thing I love about the Fair is its potential for unlimited surprises: small moments of wonder and beautiful details to delight the curious visitor.

Then there's the most important part I love about it: its timeless traditions. Some of its features never change.

There will always be cotton candy, saltwater taffy, kettle corn and calliope music; the wall of State Fair Queen photos will endure through changing hairstyles and fashions; the midway will always magically transform at nightfall; there will always be a soda fountain at the Hook's Drug Store Museum (I hope); and there will always be demonstrations of traditional arts at the Pioneer Village.

I am a big fan of people who know how to do things for themselves and of rural people, specifically farmers. People who live on farms must be many things: carpenters and mechanics, scientists and veterinarians, blacksmiths, tinkerers, cooks, weavers and frequently artists. I so admire their vast knowledge and skills.

At the Pioneer Village, these masters of traditional arts come to show us all their trades. Visit them and you might get some advice, discover a new interest, or learn an old way to solve a modern problem. All this is possible there year after year.

And that is why every August you will find me -- for at least one day -- at the Fair. On this day, you will find me on Sky Blue Window sharing some of the images I most enjoyed.

The Indiana State Fair runs through August 23rd. - PHOTO BY KIPP NORMAND


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