|A Day in Indiana History - September|
The Indiana State Fair, begun in 1852, opened in its third location on September 19, 1892 in the rural area on 38th Street on the north side of Indianapolis. Previous locations at Military Park and Camp Morton had become too small.
Indiana State Fair
The Indiana General Assembly authorized the Indiana State Board of Agriculture on February 14, 1851; with the intention of encourage agricultural growth in the state. The Board organized a State Fair to promote farmers and their products. The first State Fair in Indiana, and the sixth in the United States, took place on October 20 - 22, 1852 at Military Park. 30,000 people attended that first fair. Visitors had 1,365 exhibits featuring a variety of farm products and equipment.
Founded in 1820 to train troops that would fight in the Black Hawk War, the fourteen-acre park was initially named "Military Ground." During the Civil War, the park became Camp Sullivan and found use as a training ground for Union Soldiers. The grounds were converted into a park again after the war and today are part of White River State Park. The Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial is on the south edge of the park, along the Canal. The Shelter house in the park hosts several concerts and other events throughout the year.
By 1860, the fair had outgrown Military Park. A thirty-eight acre site bounded by Central Avenue and Nineteenth, Twenty-second, and Talbott Streets became the site of the Indiana State Fair in 1860. The outbreak of the Civil War halted the State Fair in 1861, when the Fairgrounds became the site of Camp Morton. Used to train Union troops at first, the state converted it into a prisoner of war camp in 1863, a role it served until 1865.
From 1865 until 1892, the Fair took place in several locations in the state, as well as at Camp Morton in Indianapolis. The cities that hosted the fair during those years included New Albany, Fort Wayne, Terra Haute and Madison. Since a central location would allow more Hoosiers to visit the fair, the State Board of Agriculture purchased the Jay G. Voss farm on 38th Street on the north side of Indianapolis. The fairground featured seventy-two buildings, a 6,000-seat grandstand, and a one-mile racetrack. The Indiana State Fair has taken place at these fairgrounds annually since moving into this location. The fairground serves as the site for many other events throughout the year.
Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center
1202 E. 38Th St.
Indianapolis, In 46205
Phone | 317-927-7500