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The theme of the 2016 Indiana State Fair, held August 5-21, was "Celebrating Indiana's Bicentennial.” A total of 730,000 people attended the fair, in spite of spotty weather.
The Indiana Bicentennial Commission had a booth inside the "Visit Indiana Bicentennial Pavilion."
Fairgoers could learn about what the Indiana Bicentennial Commission has done to “celebrate history” and “ignite the future.” They could step into Visit Indiana’s Bicentennial Mobile Experience interactive trailer, featuring the history of the Hoosier state. The Indiana State Museum brought its Indiana in 200 Objects exhibition, with objects related to the story of Indiana. Indiana Grown, developed by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, celebrated local foods, goods, and products. Both the Bicentennial themed Legos display and the CANstruction were featured in the Pavilion.
The Indiana Office of Tourism Development shared information about the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay. "The Bicentennial Experience," an interactive exhibit created for the Torch Relay, was unveiled at a ceremony with Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb.
Bicentennial staff engaged with Hoosiers about the Bicentennial, gave out materials and promoted upcoming events. Legacy Project Coordinators, County Coordinators and Bicentennial Marketplace vendors were invited to present at the booth.
Other Indiana State Fair bicentennial programming included a Bicentennial-themed food competition, a digital photography lounge, a bicentennial medallion in Pioneer Village, First Lady Karen Pence's Watercolor Exhibit in the Indiana Arts Building, Bicentennial-themed cheese sculpture and evening parades featuring Abe the Bison and Bicentennial commemorative flags.
The Indiana Bicentennial Commission partnered with M.T. Publishing to help sell its commemorative products including the Bicentennial medals, books and flags.
The Indiana Hardwood Lumberman’s Association sponsored wooden nickels. 26,000 wooden nickels were handed out to fairgoers who visited the Commission's booth. The wooden nickels featured different Indiana state symbols such as the state bird, tree, flower and a bison.
The Bicentennial theme was activated throughout the fairgrounds with a “Bison-tennial” herd of the painted beasts from around the state. 25 painted bison were displayed in a field next to the Glass Barn.
All 25 bison were judged by a panel of jurors toward the end of the fair. Fulton County was the judge's choice winnner for quality, execution and representation of state and county. DeKalb County was awarded second place for design and detailed imagery. Third place was Kosciusko County for creativity, playfullness and out of the box design. All three winners received cash prizes.
Fairgoers were encouraged to participate in the judging by voting on the bison entries by choosing their favorite through the State Fair's Facebook page. More than 10,000 votes were submitted. Martin County was the people's choice winner in the Bison-tennial Herd Contest.
To celebrate the explosioin of Indiana craft breweries, the Indiana State Fair and the Brewers of Indiana Guild hosted the 2016 Bicentenni-ALE Competition in the Beer, Wine and Spirits Exhibition in the Grand Hall. There was a competition among the craft beers brewed and named in celebration of Indiana's 200th birthday.
A panel of local celebrity judges blind-taste-tested the beers and ranked their favorites. The winner was "Angus" from Pokro Brewing Company. It was a british strong ale brewed with whole leaf fuggle hops from Cone Keeps Hop Yard in Demotte, Indiana.
The Indiana Bicentennial Train returned to the 2016 Indiana State Fair to celebrate the state's 200th birthday. The train, sponsored by the Indiana Historical Society, is a rolling museum stationed at the state fairgrounds throughout the fair. The three air-conditioned boxcars highlighted 200 years of Indiana's history. The exhibit in the first boxcar explored early state history up to 1900. The second car covered the next 100 years and the third car illustrated Indiana history while also looking to the future.
The exhibit used several hundred images from the Indiana Historical Society collections to explore the state's past.
A free, Bicentennial-themed photo opportunity was available courtesy of TapSnap 1184. Fairgoers could take photos using bicentennial-themed props and custom green screens at the TapSnap booth. Fairgoers would then enter their email addresses to receive the photos for free, via a custom email with bicentennial branding.
The Indiana Bicentennial Commission shared their photos on social media platforms which generated excitement about the bicentennial and upcoming events later in the fall.