Indiana Would Like Residents to Pony Up for State Fair’s Upkeep

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February 22, 2011; Source: | Officials in Indiana hope that residents take to heart the sentiment that runs through the Rodgers and Hammerstein song "that our state fair is a great state fair" and consider donating to ensure its future viability. After Senate passage, the House is now considering the creation of a nonprofit State Fair Foundation that would be charged with raising the millions needed to improve the 120-year-old fairgrounds.

According to, cutbacks in state support have left the fairgrounds without sufficient funds for ongoing upkeep. In 2009 the state replaced annual property tax payments of $2 million to $3 million with a yearly lump sum disbursement of roughly $600,000 from the general fund.

More money is needed to improve the coliseum where junior league hockey games, high school graduations, and a variety of horse shows are held. Currently the building's roof leaks, the ice machine is 80-years-old and notes, "there's no backstage area to provide a safe path for hockey teams to move to the locker rooms; now, a hallway used by fans must be roped off."

"They don't really have any way to fund those things now," said the bill's author State Sen. Jim Merritt, a Republican from Indianapolis. Iowa created a similar foundation, which has raised $80 million for its state fair since the 1990s.—Bruce Trachtenberg