Ah, the Indiana State Fair! One of those events that I look forward to every single year. I might be biased, but with the variety of shows, food, rides, games and special events, I think it’s one of the best state fairs in the country.
Over the years of going to the fair, I’ve discovered I enjoy going two times for around 4 hours each visit during weekday evenings, vs. going for an extended full weekend day and trying to cram everything in all at once. It’s too much, and it’s too hot for that in the middle of August! If you keep an eye on the fair’s Facebook Page or sign up for emails, they offer discounts ahead of time, making it affordable to go, even multiple times each year.
Fair Fun & Attractions
I like to spend my first day at the fair focused on seeing animals, attractions, and maybe playing some games. It’s also an ideal time to do fair food recon — trying only a couple of things that night, and coming up with a plan of attack for making sure you hit all of the fair food highlights during the second trip.
I recommend going on the Sky Ride after you’ve eaten a bit and need a break from walking around! It’s a cool view from up there, particularly if you can get on around sunset. Same recommendation for the Ferris wheel.
New this year is the Big Top Circus Tent, which perfectly fits the “Step Right Up” theme. The circus itself was spectacular, particularly considering it didn’t cost anything in addition to admission. There were five different acts over the course of an hour-long show and each was more exciting than the last!
I’m too much of a wimp to really take advantage of the variety of thrill rides at the fair, but if you’re into that kind of thing, there are plenty to choose from at the Midway, as well as a wide array of fair games.
The second evening is all about food. ALL THE FOODS. This is one of the few times I don’t eat all day so that I’m good and ready to chow down on the most unhealthy, delicious food that I can only get once a year!
Here are my top 10 favorite foods, drinks & sweets from the Indiana State Fair:
I’m a huge fan of the Sati-Babi pork skewers! While they may seem a bit pricey per piece, they are amazingly delicious, and there’s usually a deal to get 2 skewers + a lemon shake-up for $10. Not too bad of a deal, and a good option if you’re not splitting food with anyone else,
#2 Inside Out Grilled Cheese
For 2018, I can’t recommend the Inside Out Grilled Cheese enough! It’s beyond delish!! Sadly, the Dairy Bar was sold out of them on my second visit, and I forgot to get a pic the first time, so there’s no visual record of it. Just take my word for it that you need to try it, even if you haven’t liked any of the other Dairy Bar grilled cheese offerings.
#3 Deep Fried Oreos
You could probably replace the word “Oreos” with anything, and it would make this list because deep fried stuff just tastes good.
#4 Ribbon Fries
This is the first year I’ve seen a name for these things, so I can finally stop calling them spirally potato things! These are particularly good at the Kings Taters stands, because they offer a yummy cajun seasoning to toss on top, though this year the serving sizes weren’t quite as generous as usual.
#5 Elephant Ears
A standard fair staple, elephant ears are always a favorite of mine, though I forgo them some years just because I can’t stuff my face with anything else by the time I see a stand! This year, I made it a priority to try one with caramel sauce on it. And now I will never go without caramel on an elephant ear, even though it’s a sticky mess to eat.
#6 Dole Whip
I fell in love with this stuff at Disney World, and the dole whip at the Indiana State Fair tastes exactly the same as Disney’s! They also have some other fun fruit blends that are just as yummy. Make sure you buy it at the pineapple or one of the other fruit-shaped places though. Not any of the other non-fruit-shaped stands offering “pineapple whip”.
#7 Tenderloin Sandwich
I mean, this is Indiana, so of course, the tenderloin sandwich at the fair is going to be amazing… and gigantic.
#8 Moonshine Shake-Up
I’m not sure if this drink is only offered for the 2018 fair, or will be something that will continue to be offered in upcoming years, but either way, it was a refreshing treat to come into the comfortable, air-conditioned Beer & Wine building on a blistering 90-degree day and enjoy a refreshing mixed drink.
I’d recommend sticking with the cocktails or the beer here because the wine servings are itty bitty.
There’s a shortage of restaurants that serve decent beignets in Indy, so these treats are something I look forward to each year! I just wish they’d offer an option to just buy 2-3 at a time, instead of six. It’s a treat that’s easy to share if you’re with a group though.
#10 Funnel Cake
How can you come to a fair without getting funnel cake?! I tried unsuccessfully to eat a Reese’s funnel cake on my own and will never get that particular flavor again. Way too much of a good thing. I Highly recommend it though if you have a sharing buddy or two… or four. And, of course, the old traditional plain cake with powdered sugar is always a good pick. Luckily, I haven’t ruined my appetite for those and they continue to be a yearly fave.
On next year’s fair eating list is to try out the sirloin tips because they smelled amazing every time I passed the stand, a bacon grilled cheese that sounded intriguing, and also to revisit the turkey leg since I feel like I’ve been neglecting it for a long time and it needs my attention. Other than that, we’ll just have to wait and see what new, delicious goodness the fair will cook up for us next year.