As my man Dave Wilson says, “It’s a great time to be alive and living in Central Indiana.” That’s because two of the best entertainment events of the year will be running simultaneously this weekend: the Midwest Music Summit and the Indianapolis State Fair. Both of them deserve your attention and your entertainment dollar. When the first Midwest Music Summit was held two years ago, naysayers and skeptics predicted it’d never come off. It was just too complicated an operation for Indy. After the event was held with just a few snafus, the same people predicted that it was a one-time event. Well, the Summit is in its third year and shows no signs of fading away. In fact, it’s been getting stronger each time and this one looks to be the best one yet. So screw the haters and naysayers and bring on the music. I’ve never been one to urge blind support of any local arts scene just because it’s local. Arts scenes only build support when the product is fresh and exciting. Patronizing a scene out of obligation is, well, patronizing. But the array of talent assembled for this year’s music summit totally stands on its merits. Dozens and dozens of Indiana bands spanning just about every genre are playing for your entertainment. It reflects the diversity of choices offered by our local musicians. “Indianapolis music” doesn’t just mean punk or metal or big-haired Eighties music. There’s acoustic music at the Rathskeller and the Upper Room. There’s electronic music at Gobo. There’s hip-hop at Club Mecca and United States of Mind. In short, just about anything you want. And, unlike some regional music festivals, this one is geared to the average fan as much as it is the music insider. You can buy a wristband or convention badge and sample the offerings at dozens and dozens of nightclubs. If you’ve never bothered to listen to local music, this is a great time to start. Go see The Slurs and The Mudkids at the Vogue. Drop by Radio Radio for the Pieces. Check out Smoke Ring at Zanies Too. While you’re there, you’ll hear tons of other local and regional acts. And one of them just might become your favorite. You may never want to listen to Matchbox Twenty ever again. Meanwhile, the Indiana State Fair opens on Wednesday. It’s hard for out-of-towners to understand the appeal that the State Fair has for us natives. Talk about stuffing your face; you’re limited only by your wallet at the State Fair. Whether it’s a tasty lamb kebob, a steaming elephant ear or ice cream made from the milk of Indiana cows, there’s more than enough food to satisfy even the biggest gluttons in the state. And while the State Fair is notable as a white-trash culinary event, it’s even more remarkable for the people and things you can see there. You can joke about Hoosier hicks all you want, but you’ll rarely meet friendlier people than the farmers who bring their families and their animals to the State Fair and camp out for its duration. They’ll happily answer all of your questions about their pigs, or their cattle or their horses. They delight in spooking city folk like us with horror tales from the farm. Most of us never step foot on a farm. We go to the store and buy our hamburger and our cottage cheese and don’t give a thought about where it came from. But Indiana’s family farmers help put that food on your table and they don’t even ask for recognition, let alone appreciation. If you really want to freak out a farmer, go up to them and tell them thanks for everything they do. They never get that. What you’ll likely get in return is a smile and a handshake full of rural Indiana gratitude. Agriculture, of course, is only part of what the State Fair is about. Possibly even more fascinating is the community of carnies, the people who assemble and operate the rides and the games at the fair. They’re notoriously hard people get to open up — figuring, no doubt, that anyone too interested in them is an undercover cop or an inspector of some kind — but party with carnies and your life will be transformed forever. Trust me on that one. They can outdrink even the most jaded punk rockers. While you may look down on the carnies, rest assured that they’re probably laughing at you. After all, most of us are tied down to an office, a mortgage or a marriage. Carnies get to travel the country, deal with new people every day, and generally look at their customers as marks. Including you. While you’re spending $20 trying to win a $3 stuffed animal, they’re laughing at your foolishness and greed. While you’re emptying your wallet at their food stands, they’re counting just how much they’ll clear that day, down to the last penny. As a sociological event, the State Fair is about as fascinating as it gets. It brings together people literally from all races, classes and age groups, and gives them rides, food and education. See you at the MMS and at the elephant ear stand. I’ll be the one hitting on the tattooed lady running the deep fryer and administering the cinnamon to the elephant ears.