Indiana State Fair 2017 Photos, Part 6 of 7: Antiques ‘n’ Arts

Beer Steins!

Anne and I don’t drink, but the steins sure look niftier than my cans of Coke Zero.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians that other people love, and farm animals competing for cash prizes and herd bragging rights. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context. Usually we’re all about the food.

…but sometimes we also like browsing the wares, works, and wonders brought forth by the artists and collectors who grace the various exhibit halls with the things they’ve made, built, sewn, restored, or salvaged for other Hoosiers to see. None of these items were for sale, but a few could command impressive prices if they ever held post-fair auctions.

Admittedly I’ve never understood the competition that seems best described as “bring in an old object, win a prize”. I used to think it was a restoration/repair contest, but sometimes the wear ‘n’ tear doesn’t show any sign of handiwork. Still, if the primary criteria is that the found artifacts represent Something Different, then our hats are off to the following standouts:

County Fair!

This 1937 board game has yet to be rebooted as a Wii franchise, a Toon Disney series, or a Gen Con LARPer scenario.

Kellogg's Funny Jungleland Moving-Pictures!

Decades before Disney made Baloo and Mowgli household names in that order, in 1909 Kellogg’s had already tried cornering the wacky-jungle entertainment market. Sadly, their attempt at a literary universe stalled when Tony the Tiger boycotted the project.

Red Skelton Program!

For years our State Fair programs have been modest paper pamphlets, but once upon a time the front covers spotlighted celebrity guests, such as this nice man you’ll have to ask your grandparents about.

Aunt Jemima cookie jar!

The perfect centerpiece for kids who love being in the kitchen! Fill with cookies; add one cup of pancake syrup; shake vigorously; devour contents until ill.

We Want Teddy!

I don’t understand any competition or world that thinks Red Skelton and President Theodore “Wolf-Puncher” Roosevelt both merit third place.

Among the many categories you’ll see in the exhibit halls, one of the largest is never mentioned in the brochures, in the radio ads, or by attendees to each other: kiddie posters! Every year hundreds of kids from all 92 Indiana counties cobble together instructional posters to bring awareness to ignorant strangers about their chosen fields of study. Sometimes they’re photography collages; sometimes they’re cutouts of Wikipedia paragraphs; sometimes they’re toys glued to posterboard; sometimes they’re weird and inscrutable, but you know their parents are proud and love them very much. And on rare occasion, instead of titling their educational masterpiece with textbook boilerplate, if you’re lucky you might just glimpse a spark of innovation that defies the norm, leaps out at you, and refuses to let you walk away unchanged.




I thought this was another B-movie shlock-shock headline, but as an equine know-nothing, I had no idea strangles is a very real thing. So I officially learned something!

Goat Parasites!

Goat parasites: public enemy #1 to anyone who loves goat cheese as much as we do.

Fire Extinguishers!

Apparently there’s a whole system to differentiating your fire extinguishers. Painting faces on them and giving them funny names is not enough to satisfy your local fire marshal.

Among the walls and racks covered by pieces from local artists, this year featured a special gallery of watercolor paintings by local celebrity Karen Pence. Along with her Master’s degree in elementary education from Butler University, Pence has also made a steady career of watercolor commissions. That’s, y’know, in addition to any reasons you might’ve heard of her in a national context.

Karen Pence paintings!

Or you might remember her from that time we saw her at the 2016 Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade.

Astronaut Shoes!

Homemade astronaut shoes. I know a lot of folks who’d pay good money for these.

Upholstery Bear!

The next time you think about taking your old furniture out to the Dumpster, why not use the upholstery to make teddy bears first?

Kiddie Art!

Every artist has to start somewhere. If a kid can convince just one person besides a blood relative to look at their drawings, they’ve got a better-than-average chance of drawing an Avengers spin-off comic someday.

Iron Man Bust!

Marvel doesn’t really need full-time sculptors, but sooner or later there’ll be openings in the action figure industry. Or — here’s an idea — just keep being an awesome artist anyway, with or without corporate orders.

To be concluded!

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