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Hoosiers, visitors welcome to Indiana State Fair Friday

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Those at the upcoming Indiana State Fair are invited to pig out more on pork to celebrate a half-century milestone.

This is the 50th anniversary for Indiana Pork operating pork tents to serve hungry fairgoers. To celebrate, it will showcase a new food item for the ‘’Taste of Indiana’’ contest during the August 3-19 fair.

New to the tents menu is Potatchoes, featuring roasted pit potatoes topped with pulled pork and covered in sour cream, cheese, pico de gallo and jalapenos.

‘’Fairgoers love our pulled pork barbecue. We think adding potatoes and covering it in delicious toppings will be a hit with fairgoers,’’ said Jeanette Merritt, director of Checkoff Programs for Indiana Pork.

Potatchoes can be purchased for $7 in the three Indiana Pork tent locations in front of the Swine Pavilion, cattle barn and near Pioneer Village throughout the fair.

Indiana Pork is also hosting “Trough Talks” aimed at educating fairgoers about modern livestock production, and the annual 4-H swine project at the new Animal Town between the grandstands and the communications building across from the Swine Barn. Free pork samples will be given out August 8 during Indiana Pork Day at the fair.

The fair always offers a chance to learn more about farming and one way is venturing down the Recipe Trail. The Indiana Family of Farmers (IFF) is again hosting the trail, featuring at 10 stops highlighting commodities like pork, beef, poultry, soybeans, corn and dairy. Participants at each stop can also learn more about agriculture.

Trail maps can be picked up at any Prairie Farms information booth or Animal Town, IFF officials said.

Also new will be the Indiana Dairy Farmer’s Ice Cream Parlor at Pioneer Village. Hand-dipped chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and walnut ice cream and milk will be served.

Other highlights include the River-Friendly Farmer Awards Ceremony sponsored by Indiana Farm Bureau. Since 1999, more than 800 farmers have been recognized for their conservation practices that help protect lakes, rivers and streams. Forty-nine landowners across the state are being honored during this year’s fair.

The Indiana Beef Cattle Assoc. (IBCA) is offering a new food item, “Hatch Chili Beef Meatballs,” at its Hoosier Ribeye Tent by the Cattle Barn. A free interactive and educational booth on where different meat cuts come from on a beef cow will also be set up by the IBCA inside the Horticulture building.

New entertainments

Other fair highlights include a new rollercoaster and Joey Chestnut, the current world record-holder for eating 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes, trying to set a record for eating ice cream.

The BulletTrain, a rollercoaster climbing 33 feet high before venturing into sharp turns and banking curves, is presented by North American Midway Entertainment. “From the very first ride, we knew we had a winner on our hands,” said Danny Huston, owner of the Farmland, Ind.-based midway entertainment provider.

Sharon Smith, communications manager for the Indiana State Fair, said BulletTrain is the fastest rollercoaster at the fair. “It definitely will be a thriller,” she said.

Joey Chestnut on August 5 at 2 p.m. will attempt to break the world record for ice-cream eating during a competition featuring other professional eaters like Miki Sudo. Sudo will be defending her record for ice cream, set at the fair last year by consuming 16.5 pints in 6 minutes.

Smith said competitive eating, new to the fair last year, is another way of adding variety to the fair experience. “We always try and add value for our fairgoers,” she noted.

The theme of this year’s fair is “Step Right Up. The 17 Greatest Days of Summer,” to reflect the addition of a circus to the fair for the first time. A big top with three single-ring shows will occur daily, except for two shows on Thursdays.

The circus, free with paid admission to the fair, will be on the north side of the fairgrounds inside a candy cane-striped tent with a seating capacity of 1,600. Bello Nock, billed as the “World’s Greatest Comic Daredevil,” will be among the headline performers.

Nock is in the Guinness Book of Records for a high-wire walk over a cruise ship and is known for stunts like hanging from a helicopter over the Statue of Liberty and rappelling off Madison Square Garden.

Animal Town at the east end of the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand is returning – but with a twist. Educators have been added to tell about each of the farm animals, including chickens, goats, cows, draft horses and swine.

Robbie Krieger of classic rock band “The Doors” will headline the 17 free concerts with paid admission to the fair; he’s scheduled to perform August 18. The concert schedule is as follows:

•Rick Springfield – August 3

•Natalie Stovall with openers Cook & Belle and The Brett Wiscons Band – August 4

•Why Don’t We – August 5

•Anthony Hamilton – August 6

•Tyler Childers – August 7

•Randy Houser and special guest Nora Collins – August 8

•Kool & The Gang – August 9

•Hanson – August 10

•Warrant with special guest FireHouse and openers DUDE! and Rok Hollywood – August 11

•For King & Country headlining the Contemporary Christian Music Festival, with Sarah Reeves, All the Astronauts and Jonathan Jackson – August 12

•Happy Together Tour featuring The Turtles, Chuck Negron (formerly of Three Dog Night), Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, The Association, Mark Lindsay (formerly of Paul Revere & The Raiders and The Cowsills) – August 13

•Dirty Deeds USA: Xtreme AC/DC Tribute – August 14

•Grand Funk Railroad with openers The Easthills – August 15

•An Evening with Hunter Hayes – August 16

•Here Come The Mummies – August 17

•Kirk Franklin, headlining the Gospel Music Festival – August 19

For more fair details and directions, download the app to your smart phone from the iTunes or Google Play Store or visit