Today marks the start of Indiana State Fair, which celebrates its 161st season with the theme: “The Year of the Popcorn.”
Although I grew up showing my horses at Indiana State Fair for ten summers, the only themes from my State Fair days that I remember are: “The Year of the Ice Cream” and “The Year of the Ice Cream: Part II.”
I’m not sure if this theme was ever an actual theme at Indiana State Fair, but for anyone who knows my Pap or walked down the main drag at the fair during the ice cream incident – it was most definitely a theme, and a recurring theme for him.
It started simply enough. Showing horses in August heat, lugging around gear and getting items together can be tiresome. Staying up until 1 a.m. to get a spot in the practice ring, sleeping in the horse barn (because all the kids did it, which meant, all the adults had to do it) and getting the horse groomed is, well, trying.
Despite the stresses, my Pap and family supported my showing and there wasn’t one show in Pepsi Coliseum that I didn’t look over the main gate and see my Pap’s smile and IU baseball hat peeking over with pride. To this day, I think it’s the best view I’ve seen – I’d trade it in for Prague at midnight or the U.S. Capitol Building from my old apartment’s window. There are few moments that had as much sentimentality to them as that one did, and I got to have it 10 times in my life. Showing the horse I trained with my Pap, while catching glimpses of him watching as his eyes glistened with emotion—there’s not much better.
However, there was a different kind of emotion from my Pap that popped up later. The kind of emotion that happens when a man drops the ice cream cone he’s been wanting for a week. And it’s not pretty.