Popcorn & Powdered Sugar: the Signature Scent of the Indiana State Fair

Indiana State Fair funnel cake

I know you’re out there.  In late July and early August you appear.  You are the few, yet you are mighty and a little bit stubborn.  You are the people who say they don’t like the Indiana State Fair.

I’m shy by nature, hesitant to step on toes or offend.  I would be the world’s worst missionary – too polite to convert anyone.  Except when it comes to the Fair.  It’s my calling, my Hoosier duty, to turn you into a Fair lover.  No, I take that back … I would be content to turn you into a Fair appreciator.

Lest you think I’m underqualified, let me share with you that I married a Fair hater.  He’ll never love it the way the kids and I do, but he appreciates it and will take it in in small doses.  I call it victory.

The kids and I spent 9 hours at the Fair the other day … and it still wasn’t enough.  We are Fair fanatics, and for us, it’s the one time of year when we can roll all kinds of entertainment into one place just a few miles down the road.  Every year we make family memories that hold us over until the fair comes around again the next year.  We make memories that last us a lifetime.

Indiana State Fair 2013

If there’s a theme to our memories, it goes hand-in-hand with the yearly theme of the Fair.  This year it is the Year of Popcorn.  We saw the World’s Largest Popcorn Ball.  We marveled at the entries in the ears of popcorn category, and wondered how on earth you decide who goes home with the blue ribbon.  We popped from one side of the Fair to the other, taking in the Midway, the animals, the shows, and the food.

Indiana State Fair Concessions

And, of course, we ate popcorn.  Cheesy popcorn, kettle corn, and a new one that we’ll try to recreate at home: butterscotch popcorn.  I can see us in the gloom of February, tucked under blankets, watching a movie, and eating popcorn that will transport us right back to the sticky August heat and the sound of the Fair train.

I don’t expect everyone to love the Fair, but I’d love for you to give it a fair chance.  Go for an hour and eat something that makes you happy.  If you hate the Midway, meander among the animals instead.  If it’s the heat that gets you, wander through the Home & Family Arts building and marvel at the handiwork of your fellow Hoosiers.  After that, ride the tractor to the other side and take in the new Glass Barn.  You’ll gain a new appreciation for the farmers who nourish us without breaking a sweat yourself.

Indiana State Fair DNR Fishing

We took the last shuttle home and it was close to midnight when I finally tucked the kids in bed.  As I leaned in to kiss Eli goodnight, I smiled.  He smelled of popcorn and powdered sugar.  He smelled like the Fair.  That’s the memory I’ll take with me for years to come.  I hope you’ll make your way to our great Indiana State Fair this year and take home a signature smell and some memories of your own … whatever they may be.

I’m happy to partner with Indiana Family of Farmers as a Table Talk Contributor.  Many thanks to Indiana Family of Farmers for providing me with some inspirational gifts as well as passes to the Indiana State Fair.  Find great recipes and learn more about Indiana’s farming families through the Indiana FOF website, blog, Facebook and Twitter pages.

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