INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Fair, Aug. 4 through 20, has celebrated farming, creativity and families for 165 years. It serves as a reminder to us of our agricultural roots and the continuing role of agriculture in Indiana’s economy today. Here are some highlights of what to expect at this year’s fair.

What’s new?

With a 2017 theme of “The Wonderful World of Food,” it’s no wonder that one of the new features of this year’s fair is “Our Global Kitchen,” a state-of-the-art exhibit in the Harvest Pavilion organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The interactive digital displays, dioramas, artifacts and models explore the intricate system that brings food to our tables and present visitors with stories of how food had shaped us through history.

The Suburu Skyride, modeled after mountain ski lifts, treats visitors to a seven-minute ride 35 feet in the air in a continuous loop between the Midway and the swine barn. A single ride costs $5; height restrictions apply.

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The Budweiser Clydesdales will be at the MetroPCS Family Fun Park Aug. 16 through 20.

Hedrick’s Racing Pigs compete every day of the fair in the MetroPCS Family Fun Park. These four-legged athletes make a mad dash to the finish line, and the winner earns an Oreo cookie served on a silver platter.

The World Championship Ice Cream Eating Contest takes place 2 p.m. Aug. 13 at the ENOUGH Plaza in front of the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Contestants will battle brain freeze and eat ice cream for more than six minutes for a $2,000 first prize.

free stage

The Chevy Silverado Free Stage offers 17 free concerts over the course of the 17-day fair. Some are solo performances: George Thorogood and the Destroyers (Aug. 4), Brett Michaels (Aug. 7), High Valley (Aug. 8), Montgomery Gentry (Aug. 9), Blue October (Aug. 11), Midland (Aug. 15), Patti LaBelle (Aug. 17) and Kiefer Sutherland (Aug. 18.)

Other concerts feature multiple performers, such as the “Happy Together” tour (Aug. 14) with members of the Turtles, the Association, Three Dog Night, the Box Tops, the Cowsills and the Archies.

Aug. 5 features Hotel California, an Eagles tribute band, along with the Gordon Bonham Blues Band and Terry Lee and the Rockaboogie Band.

The Hispanic Music Festival takes the stage with Chicas Roland and Carmen Jara on Aug. 6.

The Yacht Rock Revival tour brings together Robbie Dupree, Peter Beckett, Matthew Wilder and Elliot Lurie from Looking Glass on Aug. 10.

Aug. 12, the Bob & Tom show presents Here Come the Mummies, Hero Jr. and Four Star Edition.

Christian music takes center stage on Aug. 13 with Danny Gokey as the headliner.

Dashboard Confessional and the All-American Rejects play Aug. 16.

Aug. 19 brings Hoosier music to the stage with The Why Store, The Easthills, Big Foot Yancey and Against the Clocks.

The concert series closes out on Aug. 20 with a gospel music festival headlined by Anthony Brown and Kierra Sheard.

Wander the Fair

Wander through the Indiana State Fair on any of the 17 days and you’re likely to discover the work of Cheese Lady, Sarah Kaufman, whose cheese sculpture is on display in the Purdue Extension Agriculture/Horticulture Building.

The Indiana History Train, located in the MetroPCS Family Fun Park, stays open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily with exhibits about Indiana’s past and present.

Get a soda at the antique pharmacy inside Hook’s Drug Store and Soda Fountain, open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Explore your creative side with Lego bricks from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Indiana Arts Building and countless other opportunities to try your hand at pioneer arts, papercraft, painting and dancing throughout the fair.

Don’t forget the agricultural focus of the Indiana State Fair with ongoing showmanship events for rabbits, sheep, cattle, dogs, cats, goats, poultry and swine. Check the fair schedule for times and dates.

And when your feet get tired of walking, you can continue your tour of fair and do your people watching from the State Fair Shuttle. For just a dollar (free for seniors), shuttles run almost constantly in a loop around the fair.

Locals at the Fair

If you’re hoping to run into friends and neighbors while at the fair, time your visit to coincide with Eastern Hancock Royal Pride Band’s appearance at Band Day at 4:15 p.m. on Aug. 5. As one of 50 bands in the competition, performances of bands from all around the state start at 9 a.m. at the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand and continue through 5 p.m.

Hancock County’s Ricochet Cloggers, under the direction of Annie Wing, perform at the dance stage near the midway from 4 to 5 p.m. Aug. 5.

Another Hancock County clogging group, Hearts Ablaze, directed by Cristy Corwin-Howard, perform Aug. 12 at noon and Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. on the dance stage.

New Palestine High School junior Sydney Cornell, winner of the Hancock County 4-H Fair Talent Contest, will perform in the senior division of the state talent contest at noon Aug. 20.

If you go

The Indiana State Fair runs for 17 days from Aug. 4 through 17 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1202 E. 38th St. Visit indianasstate.com for ticket and parking information as well as a complete schedule of events.

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Christine Schaefer is arts editor and editorial assistant at the Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3222 or cschaefer@greenfieldreporter.com.