Ginger Murphy is Assistant Director for Stewardship for Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs. During her 25 years with DNR she has also worked as an interpretive naturalist at the Upper Wabash Reservoirs (Salamonie, Mississinewa and Roush Lakes) and as Chief of Interpretation. Birding and hiking top her outdoor interests list.
The 2011 Indiana State Fair is finally here! The fishing pond is filled, the indoor shooting range is in place, the snakes and other programs are ready for the amphitheater and the air conditioning in the Natural Resources Building is ON! For the next three weekends and all the weekdays in between, you can see a lot of Indiana’s fish species, get a look at Indiana’s hawks and owls, shop in Mother Nature’s Mercantile, take a trolley tour to see the fair’s historic buildings, meet Abraham Lincoln or Gene Stratton Porter, ask lots of questions about hunting and fishing and much, much more.
The first weekend of the fair is always my favorite. On Friday night, it’s become a tradition for me and a few other State Park and Reservoir interpretive naturalists to host a campfire, complete with songs and s’mores. Since I spend much of my time working in downtown Indianapolis these days, the smells and sounds associated with a night around the campfire remind me of my years hosting campfire programs at Salamonie, Mississinewa and Roush Lakes in northern Indiana.
Saturday brings the first snake program, followed by the annual “Taste of the Wild” where fairgoers line up for great samples of wild game. It’s hard to beat the taste of creekbank potatoes and wild turkey roasted in a pit! It’s also lots of fun watching kids hook their first bluegill at the DNR Fishin’ Pond, or cool off in the spray from the fountain on the front porch of the Natural Resources Building. There’s always a crowd gathered around the Division of Water’s flood model where you can watch what happens when a town gets flooded. The big “feely table” with feathers, rocks and artifacts from Indiana’s 32 state parks and reservoirs is usually a big hit, too.
I have to say as well that another nice time that I like to be at the Natural Resources Building is after all the programs are over for the day. The sun is going down, the cicadas and crickets are calling, the water in the Fishin’ Pond is still and the sounds of the midway find their way into the area. The seats in the amphitheater are pretty inviting for enjoying a lemon shake-up and a sandwich before finishing up for the day.
Whether you visit the first weekend or at any other time during the fair, you’ll find friendly staff and volunteers and lots of fun things to do. Last year, one parent said to me “Gee, we could just spend the whole day at this building. You’ve got lots of stuff to do, places to sit and rest and you even have bathrooms and air-conditioning!”
Check out all the entertainment at the Natural Resources Building between August 5 – 21, and we’ll see you at the Indiana State Fair!