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Catch a thrilling ride at the fairs


A photo of a ferris wheel at the Bartholomew County Fair. The Bartholomew County Fair ran from July 6 through July 14. Yue Sun Buy Photos

As August kicks off, many realize school is only two weeks away. Some are enjoying the fleeting peace of doing nothing, and some might be looking for one last chance for a summer adventure. 

If a three-day, out-of-state road trip sounds unrealistic to you, but you could really use a getaway before the stress wears you down, state or county fairs can be your perfect destination.

While the Indiana State Fair welcomed its first visitors on Aug. 3, many counties also hold their own fairs with separate schedules.

No matter if you're a thrill-seeker, a foodie or someone who simply wants to have fun, there’s something for everyone at the fair. 

Rebecca Speaker, one of the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair board directors, said there were many things offered that drew people to the Bartholomew County Fair in Indiana, which ran from July 6 to July 14.

“People like free entertainment and grandstands," Speaker said. “The midway is also an attraction for people who like rides and games. Others come out for food.”

As the fair bustles with excitement, the midway is undoubtedly the center of the night. The place will be lit up with blinking colors on amusement rides and carnival tents, which could be a perfect background for some cool Instagram pictures. 

The midway is an area where carnival games, rides and food booths cluster. Don’t be ashamed if you’re sandwiched between kids half your height when you're in line for the rides. The key to getting through the crowded midway area at fairs is to own it. 

Fairs in the Hoosier state are never lacking when it comes to presenting their Midwestern side. In addition to showcases of barn animals, visitors at the Indiana State Fair can also see demonstrations of farm activities such as such as sheep shearing, cow milking and the hatching of chickens. 

The more intense side of the Midwest, on the other hand, is shown through grandstand games such as demolition derbies and tractor pulls.

Brennen Piers, a visitor at the Bartholomew County Fair, said the demolition derby was his favorite event at the fair.

“I was surprised at the effort and strategy drivers used to be the last one running,” Piers said. “The announcer had funny quips. The safety and environmental precautions were interesting to notice, too. I would definitely recommend it to other people. It’s a part of Midwestern culture.” 

Fairs are far more than midway collisions, carnival rides and demolition derbies. 

Every fair has something special. For example, the Indiana State Fair has circus performances every day at set times, and it’s free with paid fair admission. Other fairs also feature live music and concerts, so it's important to check the lineup and schedule before planning your trip.

A bigger fair like the Indiana State fair will usually have more activities going on in the daytime, while smaller county fairs can be slow and quiet during the day.

At the Bartholomew County Fair, for example, all the food booths and vendors were open after 5 p.m., and the vendors and some of the buildings were closed during many days, Speaker said. 

Special performances and grandstand events usually have set schedules on specific dates. Remember to check the list of daily events if you want to fit everything in your one-day visit.

Food is often the sole purpose of the trip to fairs, and the amount of food offered can be overwhelming. One can find ethnic food such as Filipino, Chinese and Mexican food, along with BBQ, grilled cheese and an assortment of baked goods and desserts. Though all the different food is enticing, remember not to eat too much before you get on rides, for the sake of yourself as well as for whoever rotates with you in the sealed ride compartments. 

Getting through fairs can be rough on you and your wallet, but there are many ways to ease these frustrations.

Make sure you bring enough cash. A lot of vendors and food booths charge processing fees with credit/debit cards, and the ATM machines also charge fees, too. 

Look online and find parking before the trip. Parking at the fairs can be expensive and difficult, so it’s time-efficient and money-saving to look at available parking spots beforehand.

Footwear is essential when running around the fair grounds, so try to avoid sandals. If you’re going on rides, you might want to wear something safe that won’t fall easily. 

Some ongoing and upcoming State and County Fairs:

Lake 4-H County Fair: Aug. 3 through Aug. 12 

Indiana State Fair: Aug. 3 though Aug. 19

DeKalb County Fall Fair: Sept. 24 through Sept. 29

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