A Stack of Cross-Cuts from Indy’s Festival of Trees 2022

me doing jazz hands next to "A Christmas Story" replica leg lamp.

Me with a major award.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year the Indiana Historical Society in downtown Indianapolis hosts a special Christmas exhibit called the Festival of Trees, for which dozens of local businesses and charities festoon a tree or tree-shaped object with decorations befitting their interests and colors. A few days after Thanksgiving this year, my coworkers and I decided to make that time and sauntered over there on our lunch break…

I took enough pics for two MCC entries’ worth of Christmas trees, plus a handful of non-tree Christmas decorations as well as a few glimpses at the Historical Society’s year-round environs. Sadly I overlooked their Elf on the Shelf that was round there somewhere, and our visit was too early to catch its pal the Mensch on a Bench (yes, really), who only shows up for Hanukkah.

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Walking in a Christmas Tree Forest: Indy’s Festival of Trees 2022

Me doing jazz hands in the little hall cut through the middle of a 30-foot Christmas tree.

Having a holly jolly Christmas under a 30-foot tree.

Every year the Indiana Historical Society in downtown Indianapolis hosts a special Christmas exhibit called the Festival of Trees, for which dozens of local businesses and charities festoon a tree or tree-shaped object with decorations befitting their interests and colors. Anne and I have been meaning to check out the Historical Society (with or without a holiday-based excuse) but kept failing to make time. A few days after Thanksgiving this year, my coworkers and I decided to make that time and sauntered over there on our lunch break. Anne doesn’t work downtown or at my company and therefore sadly wasn’t included in our field trip, but I took photos to share with her and with You, The Viewers at Home.

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Halloween Stats 2022: Free Candy? In THIS Economy?

Lowe's Halloween decor 2022, mostly tall creepy things for the lawn.

Lowe’s was all about pushing the spooky Halloween accessories this year.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and no-strings-attached strangers with candy. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers I’m a stats fiend who thrives on taking head counts, even when we’re expecting discouraging results.

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The Ex-Capital Birthday Weekend, Part 1 of 10: Unrelated Pastry Prologue

Anne smiling and holding a pecan twirl pastry.

The woman I love with a pecan swirl she adored.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a short-term road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

In 2022 Anne turned 52, a number that begs me to insert a gratuitous DC Comics reference here, but it was her birthday, not mine. Indiana offers no shortage of tourist attractions for history aficionados like her. We’ve visited quite a few of those over the years, but this year we felt it was time to check off one of the Hoosier State’s biggest trivia answers: Corydon, our original state capital before Indianapolis.

History tidbits will be forthcoming. But first, our opening act: sugar.

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Indiana State Fair 2022 Photos, Part 6 of 6: Random Acts of Fairness

State Fair logo!

Special thanks to the trio of young strangers who made these jazz hands possible after Anne took their group photo for them first.

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 either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context…

It all comes down to this: all the other scintillating sights and poorly aged horrors from our State Fair walkabout that didn’t need their own chapters.

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Indiana State Fair 2022 Photos, Part 5 of 6: The Expo Hall Baby Farm Animal Takeover

piggies napping!

These little piggies went “zzzz zzzz zzzz” all the way home!

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 either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context…

When I was a kid, Expo Hall was one of the most interesting buildings to visit at the fairgrounds. Back in those days, various small businesses (indie shops, booksellers, home repair services, satellite TV providers, educational toys, and so on) lined up booths in the hall and gave out tons of promotional freebies — free pencils and pens, free stickers, free candy, free rulers, free flimsy coloring books, and so on. As an adult I lost enthusiasm when company reps stopped the freebies and focused their energies on annoyingly intrusive huckstering and hard sales pitches for boring products, with one or two exceptions. Last year the booths were noticeably sparser, longtime welcome participants like the great South Bend Chocolate Company were nowhere in sight, and those who did show up seemed more desperate and/or shady than ever. The childhood charm was next to nonexistent, and the place was probably about 1-2 years away from takeover by NFT shills.

It’s therefore hard to blame State Fair officials for shaking up the status quo and trying something completely different this year. All the salespeople were ejected from Expo Hall and replaced with a different kind of spectacle: baby farm animals!

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Indiana State Fair 2022 Photos, Part 4 of 6: The Year in Lego and Other Arts

corn truck mural couch!

Someone prettied up a truck and set up an outdoor living room in front of it.

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 either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context…

Anne and I are at that age when we’re more interested in visiting the exhibit halls than we are in rattling our bones on the Midway rides. We enjoy seeing what new works of paint, photography, building blocks, and science have been offered up for the various competitions. The State Fair holds its massive celebrations on behalf of our farmers, but Indiana has no shortage of artists, either. They come from all demographics, work in multiple media, bring ideas from pop culture as well as from their own home life, and all contribute in their own ways to the Hoosier State hometown legacy.

In this case the largest artwork on the fairgrounds was an entire truck turned into a stationary mural. It was supposed to draw attention to an entire exhibit of tricked-out vehicles called the Mural Derby, but all the other participants were parked away from the main thoroughfare and out of sight behind the giant Ferris wheel, where we had no idea they existed till I looked it up just now, days after the fact. But at least we witnessed the one truck, which was nifty.

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Indiana State Fair 2022 Photos, Part 3 of 6: The Year in Canned Food Art

canned Baby Yoda!

Canned Grogu for the win!

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 either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context…

One of the many creative events each year is the Canstruction contest, which isn’t necessarily exclusive to local 4-H youngsters. Canstruction is a charitable organization that holds nationwide events in which engineers and other clever planners compete against each other in building the best sculpture made entirely from canned goods, preferably in recognizable shapes and not ordinary stacks with boring titles like “The Can-Can”. After the judging and the public displaying are over, all those meticulously planned figures are torn down and the components are donated to local hunger relief charities, who in turn forward them to needy families totally unaware their next few meals used to be Art.

Possibly in keeping with this year’s “Fun at the Speed of Summer” theme, each team of contestants made vehicles or vehicular acccessories out of cans, starting with the floating space crib in our lead photo. Some machines were built for more speed than others.

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Indiana State Fair 2022 Photos, Part 2 of 6: The Year of Speed

ECTO-1!

Sure, we’ve seen the Ghostbusters’ car at numerous conventions over the years…but this was our first time seeing one in mood lighting.

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 either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context…

For years every State Fair had a special food theme — the Year of Popcorn! The Year of the Tomato! The Year of the Soybean! The Year of Dairy! And so on. After they ran out of major Indiana crops to spotlight, management switched to selecting inedible themes, unrelated to food and often more intangible. This year’s logline was “Fun at the Speed of Summer”, a combined celebration of the Indianapolis 500 and the various automotive companies who’ve had factories and other major presences in the Hoosier State over the past century or more. In other words: hooray for cars!

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Indiana State Fair 2022 Photos, Part 1 of 6: Our Year in Food

pickle pizza and me!

Presenting the winner of this year’s Taste of the Fair competition. No, not me.

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 either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. 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. On Thursdays they have “$3 Thursday” specials, for which every food vendor joins in the sale with at least one item for that price, whether it’s a smaller portion of an existing item or a chintzy, non-special soft drink. Above and beyond that, each year a new lineup of “Taste of the Fair” offerings showcases new ideas from assorted stands in hopes of luring in foodies and/or impressing attendees who want to do more every year than simply eating the same corn dog again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The lineup is announced weeks in advance so everyone can plan their meals and experiments accordingly. Every year, some vendors are more ambitious than others — arguably even more so this year, mired as we are in the current inflationary era where gambling on new products can kill your bottom line if you’re not careful. But at least some tried.

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