Indiana State Fair

Indiana State Fair

Entrance to the Midway at the Indiana State Fair
Genre State fair
Frequency Annual
Venue Indiana State Fairgrounds
Location(s) Indianapolis, Indiana
Years active 1852-present
Inaugurated October 20–22, 1852
Most recent August 7–23, 2015
Next event August 5–21, 2016
Attendance 978,296 (2013)
Official website
A view of some of the fair grounds
A portion of the midway on the fair grounds
A building designed as a birthday cake in honor of the 150th anniversary of the fair in 2006

The Indiana State Fair is an annual fair held in Indianapolis, Indiana, usually in the month of August. The first fair was held in October 1852, on the grounds of what became known as Military Park. The first Indiana State Fair on its present site along East 38th Street was held in 1892. In 2013 the fair had the highest number of attendees at 978,296.[1]

The state fair buildings and grounds are used for a variety of other shows when the fair is not being held. The largest building at the fairgrounds is the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The fairgrounds are at the northwest corner of 38th Street and Fall Creek Parkway.



In February 1851, at the urging of agricultural promoter Governor Wright, the Indiana General Assembly passed an act intended "to encourage agriculture" growth in the state, which also included the formation of a State Board of Agriculture. A primary goal of the Board was to organize an Indiana State Fair. On October 2022, 1852, Indiana's first state fair was held on the grounds of what became known as Military Park, west of downtown Indianapolis. In 1860 a new location for the fairgrounds was established on approximately 38 acres (15 ha) along Alabama Street, north of the city.[2][3] Indiana became the sixth state to begin holding an annual statewide agricultural fair.

During the American Civil War, the county fairgrounds was converted into Camp Morton, a prison camp for captured Confederate soldiers. During the war years no state fair was held, but it was resumed again in 1865 and held in Fort Wayne. The gates opened at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on East 38th Street for the first time on September 19, 1892. Since then, the fair has continually been held in Indianapolis.

The State Fair has been held in Indianapolis for the majority of its existence but other Indiana cities hosted the event during the mid-19th century:[4]

1963 Coliseum explosion

On October 31, 1963 a propane tank exploded in the Indiana State Fair Coliseum, killing 54 at the scene; another 20 died due to their injuries, with a total of 74 people killed. Around another 400 were injured. It was the deadliest disaster in Indianapolis history.[5]

2011 stage collapse

On August 13, 2011, high winds from an approaching thunderstorm collapsed the roof over the grandstand stage just before Sugarland was about to perform, killing seven people and injuring 58.[6] Concerts were moved indoors to the Fairgrounds Coliseum, and during that building's 2013 renovation events moved to Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium.[7] The coliseum reopened in 2014.[8]


During each annual run of the Indiana State Fair, several competitions take place. The 4-H has a large participation in the fair and competitions are held in numerous areas for 4-H youth members. 4-H winners at county fairs can progress to the state fair with their live-stock, crafts, gardening, or other exhibits. The winner at the state fair can, in some cases, advance to a national competition. The winners receive scholarships and other awards.

Other competitions also occur including art contests, a hot air balloon race, and a high school marching band contest, the Indiana State Fair Band Day on "Band Day". Adult competitions also occur in various farm related categories.[9]

The Indiana State Fairgrounds oval track has hosted auto races for over a century. The AAA National Championship and USAC National Championship have hosted Indy car races in 1946 and from 1953 to 1970, traditionally under the name Hoosier Hundred. The USAC Silver Crown Series has been contesting the event since 1971.


Numerous nationally-known entertainers have performed at the Indiana State Fair.

In 1964, The Beatles performed two sold out shows to nearly 30,000 audience members September 3 and, in 1989, New Kids on the Block set a Grandstand attendance record with 18,509 audience members.

The fair also presents Latino/Hispanic entertainment for Indiana's Hispanic population.

Famous visitors

In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson gave a speech to a crowd of 40,000 on a day known as "Big Thursday." Over the years, President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, President John F. Kennedy, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and President Barack Obama have all made appearances at the Fairgrounds.

See also


  1. The Indianapolis Star Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. David J. Bodenhamer and Robert G. Barrows, eds. (1994). The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. p. 1481. ISBN 0-253-31222-1.; Ignatius Brown (1868). Logan’s History of Indianapolis from 1818. Indianapolis: Logan and Company. p. 64.; and Holloway, W. R. (1870). Indianapolis: A Historical and Statistical Sketch of the Railroad City, A Chronicle of its Social, Municipal, Commercial and Manufacturing Progress with Full Statistical Tables. Indianapolis: Indianapolis Journal. p. 112.
  3. "Indiana State Fair History". Retrieved 14 August 2011.
  4. "2011 Indiana State Fair". Retrieved 14 August 2011.
  5. "". StarFiles: The 1963 Colliseum explosion. Retrieved 15 August 2011. External link in |title= (help)
  6. Wall Street Journal. Jack Nicas, "Faulty Planning, Stage Cited in Fair Collapse". April 12, 2012.
  8. Rader, Kevin (25 April 2014). "Open house shows off newly renovated State Fairgrounds Coliseum". WTHR. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  9. "Introduction" (PDF). Indiana State Fair Board. Retrieved 2009-03-11.

External links

Coordinates: 39°49′47.82″N 86°8′3.68″W / 39.8299500°N 86.1343556°W / 39.8299500; -86.1343556

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