The Indiana State Fair starts its 17-day run on Friday with its annual complement of thrill rides and unusual foods, along with numerous events marking "The Year of the Farmer."
A different Indiana farm operator will be highlighted each day until activities wrap up Aug. 23. Last year's fair drew some 950,000 people to the fairgrounds on the north side of Indianapolis.
David Lash, who grows corn and soybeans in northern Indiana's Kosciusko County, will be honored Aug. 14, walking in a parade with his wife and son, attending events and answering questions from fairgoers.
"I'm just a normal guy trying to run a family business. It gives me an opportunity to interact and show people a better idea of what farming is," Lash, 27, told The Journal Gazette.
The fair is also allowing liquor sales during the five ticketed concerts at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Alcohol has long been sold during other concerts and sports events at the coliseum, but had been prohibited during the fair under a 1947 state law that was lifted last year.
Fair spokeswoman Lesley Gordon said there were no problems last year at the Indiana Beer & Wine exhibition in Grand Hall which featured craft beer and wine from 55 state breweries and wineries.
"We had a great first year … and our vendors and visitors enjoyed having that ability at the state fair and we wanted to meet those expectations for the concertgoers as well," Gordon told WTHR-TV.
While concertgoers in the coliseum will be able to buy beer, wine and liquor, the Grand Hall exhibition will still be limited to Indiana beer and wine, although there will be more seating and live music in the evening.
Advance admission tickets have increased by $1 to $9, while gate admission will cost $12, up from $10.
This year's signature food is a smoked pig patty, sponsored by the Indiana Pork Association. Deep-fried corn on the cob is among new options on the fair's menu.