Indiana State Fair calendar 

The Indiana State Fair stretches five extra days this year, from Aug. 7-23. The NUVO editorial team gathered to explore the events and came away with these top picks for the ISF. Our criteria? Corny, yes. Entertaining, for sure. Informative, sometimes. Fun, you bet. To learn more about the ISF, see www.in.gov/statefair/

Friday, Aug. 7

INshape

All day

Hoosier Lottery Grandstand Side Lot

In partnership with Red Gold Tomato Products and Clarian Health, INshape Indiana will have four educational tents set up around the fair to educate and inform Indiana State Fair attendees about healthy lifestyle choices. The fit and trim Silver Fox Head Cheese, Gov. Mitch Daniels, will be stopping by to help promote the event throughout the fair. Fairgoers who visit three of the four INshape tents have a chance to win prizes, including Colts tickets (donated by Clarian Health), lunch with Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and a year's supply of Red Gold tomato products.

Stars of the Peking Acrobats

12, 2:30 and 5:30 p.m.

Riley Fun Park

If you need another reason to feel bad about that giant turkey leg you just ate, head over to catch the Stars of the Peking Acrobats at the Riley Fun Park. This act promises to be a highlight, as the Peking Acrobats are bringing a pared-down version of their elaborate, theatrical stage show to the State Fair. The acrobats do things that will leave you slack-jawed in awe and wondering aloud, "How did they do that?"

World's Largest Male Hog Contest

7 p.m.

Swine Barn

The Swine Barn will house around 2,300 pigs of 11 different breeds and all ages this year. Only one will earn the title of World's Largest Male Hog. While the weight of this year's hog king is unknown, past winners have tipped the scales at over 1,200 pounds. This sounds like the perfect end to a perfect day: fried pizza, acrobats, lumberjack shows, spinning rides and a huge pig (the world's largest, to be exact).

Saturday, Aug. 8

Indiana State Fair Break-Dance Battle

5-9 p.m.

Celebration Park

Join dancers from across the state at the Indiana State Fair Break-Dance Battle. If you thought that break-dancing only went down in big city streets or at teenage blockbusters, come be amazed by these three-member crews from the Crossroads of America as they go head-to-head to win some cash. The boys and girls who impress the panel of judges most with their popping, locking, kicking and freezing will win a $300 prize. Let the Puma-wearing breakers prove that there's more than corn in Indiana after all.

Sunday, Aug. 9

Social Media 101: Learning Facebook, Twitter and More!

Daily, 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.

Centennial Hall (4-H Education Complex)

The State Fair is famous for an abundance of good ol' fashioned Indiana foods and tradition. However, the organizers of this event are taking it into the age of social media. The ISF is using both Twitter and Facebook for promotional purposes, boasting over 3,000 fans on its Facebook page. Organizers continually update information about the ISF on both social sites and reveal special deals to online ISF fans. They are also going to offer tutorials explaining the benefits and the ease of using social networking. 4-H members will lead the classes, showing how to use social media to advantage. Visitors can expect to learn the mysteries of cryptic social media slang - what it means to "tweet," "tag" or "follow" a friend.

Monday, Aug. 10

Hedrick's Racing Pigs

1 p.m.

Riley Fun Park

If you have only one chance to see traditionally slow-moving animals race at the Indiana State Fair this year, make it Hedrick's Racing Pigs. Egged on by Oreo cookies and their faithful commentator, these pigs race around for about a minute before a winner is chosen. The real crowd-pleasers here are the racers' names. Pigs of the past have included "Hillary Rod Ham" and "Sarah Jessica Porker," though perhaps the less said about the "Redneck Racers" (featuring Jeff Hogsworthy and Larry the Bacon Guy), the better. Whether you're a fan of racing farm animals, or just love pun-ny pork-related names, this event oinks.

Tuesday, Aug. 11

Antique Appraisal Fair

1-4 p.m.

Home and Family Arts Building Third Floor Auditorium

If you've got an old quilt wearing thin in your hope chest or a box full of toys from your oh-so-far-away youth sitting in the attic, dig them out and head to the Antique Appraisal Fair. If you haven't been able to make it to Antiques Roadshow, this is probably the next best thing. Maybe that ugly lamp you've been hiding is worth more in the eyes of the appraiser. While you're in the building, check out a culinary demonstration or view the hundreds of photographs on display.

Wednesday, Aug. 12

The Big Cheese Unveiling

Noon

Pioneer Hi-Bred Our Land Pavilion Red Gold Stage

We may not be the cheesehead state, but would Indiana's fair skip anything gigantic, kitschy and edible? Sarah Kaufmann is back for her fourth year of carving the Big Cheese, a giant block that "The Cheese Lady" will transform into a sculpture over six days. Kaufmann's notable works include a six-foot-long cheddar gator for the University of Florida and cheese effigies of The Today Show cast, so who knows what she'll come up with for us Hoosiers. Gary-era Michael Jackson? A scale model of the Luc? Maybe a clan of portly fairgoers snacking on (cheesy) deep-fried treats.

Thursday, Aug. 13

Spam Tasting

10 a.m.

Home & Family Arts

This Spam Tasting is more than tasting a can of pork product - it is far more interesting than that. Here is how it works: Each participant needs to submit his or her recipe (a recipe that combines spam with up to nine other ingredients) for judging. Then, based on the criteria - taste (45 percent), ease of preparation (30 percent) and presentation (25 percent) - the Hormel Foods Home Economists will choose the national Spam champion grand prize winner to receive a trip to the 2010 Waikiki SPAM JAM® Event in Hawaii. Spamtastic!

Friday, Aug. 14

World's Largest Drive-Thru Breakfast

6-8 a.m.

Enter at Gate 6 off of Fall Creek Parkway

Fuel up your body and your car with this $3 deal: a beef and egg burrito, your choice of beverage (coffee, juice or milk), a free fair ticket, and - new this year - a gallon of E10, the 10 percent ethanol, 90 percent gasoline mix known as "gasohol." Don't be dismayed if you don't have a hybrid car; you can use E10 without modification in pretty much any modern vehicle. Maybe they should market this as The World's Only Drive-Thru That Replaces All the Gas You Waste Idling in Line.

Baton Twirling Competition

10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Farm Bureau Building

For those jonesing for some good old-fashioned baton arts, stop by the Baton Twirling Competition and catch Indiana's best twirlers going head-to-head to see who is the Twirler Supreme. This being a statewide event, twirlers will be bringing the nuances of their regions to various spins and tosses, executing their routines with a certain amount of local je ne sais quoi that is sure to delight hardened twirling enthusiasts and novices alike.

Mule and Donkey Races

10 a.m.

Hoosier Lottery Grandstand

Head down to the fairgrounds early and witness jockeys getting their asses in gear - literally. The fair's mule-lovers are out for glory at this informal, just-for-fun race, where bareback riders vie for the title of fastest non-horse equid at the fair. The race is along the front straight of the track and runs for 150 yards. "It's a lot of fun to watch and a source of pride for our mule-loving friends," says the fair's media contact, Andy Klotz.

Saturday, Aug. 15

Let's Cook Some Bugs

4 p.m.

Pioneer Hi-Bred Our Land Pavilion Red Gold Stage

Some State Fair attendees may take a chance on fried candy bars or corn on a stick, but for the real risk takers, there's Let's Cook Some Bugs. Last year's Let's Cook Some Bugs program was a huge success, featuring fried mealworms and education about bug eating in other cultures. No one is forced to munch on creepy crawlers, but the adventurous and willing will more than likely be given the opportunity.

Sunday, Aug. 16

Liar's Contest

Registration begins at 4, contest at 5 p.m.

Pioneer Village

Are you fond of telling tall tales or interesting, well-crafted lies? How about hearing them? Then boy, does this year's State Fair have something for you. Storytelling Arts of Indiana presents an oral short story contest where entrants are encouraged to reveal their biggest lie or tall tale to the audience and judges. Those with the best stories will be rewarded for their past dishonesty by a panel of "storytelling" experts. Though the contest's official rules don't say it, the contestants might want to tell their spouses and friends that they're going out of town on business or for a hike on the Appalachian Trail.

Unicorn Driving Exhibition

5 p.m.

Pepsi Coliseum

Sadly, this event does not mean that there will be a horned horse gallivanting about the State Fair. Rather, "Unicorn" is a type of driving hitch where there are two horses in back near the cart and one horse out in front between them. There is a certain special skill involved in driving horses hitched this way. The draft breed horse shows will be an impressive display of coordination, power and driving skill that should be fun to watch.

Monday, Aug. 17

Beef at the Beach: The Amazing Sand Cowstle

All day

Pioneer Hi-Bred Our Land Pavilion

This year, the Indiana Beef Council, the Indiana Soybean Alliance and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council have joined together to create a masterpiece called "Beef at the Beach: The Amazing Sand Cowstle." Sanding Ovations, a professional sand-sculpting company from Florida, will be creating a monstrous cow sculpture from 18 tons of sand. The piece will take five days to sculpt and will feature a mother cow and her young. This unique artwork will be on display throughout the fair, but today might be the perfect day to see it.

Tuesday, Aug. 18

Last Drop Jug Band

2-5 p.m.

Pioneer Village

For those new to the jug band scene, the art involves large clay jugs, washboards, kazoos and other "improvised" instruments played together to make music. This music originated in rural areas during the pioneer days, where access to real instruments was limited. Jug band music enjoyed a resurgence thanks to the film Oh Brother Where Art Thou? starring the decidedly "un-jug" George Clooney. Come see Indianapolis' best (and only) jug band reintroduce fairgoers to this fun music style.

Wednesday, Aug. 19

Indiana State Fair Celebrity Tomato Toss Contest

3 p.m.

Pioneer Village

If you thought last year's celebrity milking contest was fun, you're sure to love the Indiana State Fair Celebrity Tomato Toss Contest. Because it's the year of the tomato, several local media celebrities, such as first lady Cheri Daniels, plan to come out to the fair and enjoy some sweet tomato hurling. The contestants will have three attempts to toss a tomato onto a bull's-eye with a center-spike. Whoever tosses their tomato closest to the center and makes his or her tomato go splat will win the title "Tomato Toss Titan."

Thursday, Aug. 20

Howard Helmer: The World's Fastest Omelet Maker

10:30 a.m.

Pioneer Hi-Bred Our Land Pavilion Red Gold Stage

Howard Helmer currently holds the world record for the most omelets in 30 minutes (427), but he doesn't stop there. Helmer also holds the record for speed in making a single omelet (37 seconds). To top it off, Helmer has flipped an omelet in the pan 35 times consecutively, his third world record.

Rooster Crowing Finals

4 p.m.

Poultry & Rabbit Barn

One of the fair's most anticipated annual events, the Rooster Crowing Finals pits roosters competing for the most crows in a given time frame. Owners/handlers shake key fobs, wave papers, make strange hand gestures - whatever it takes to make their beasts crow. Not only is it an intense competition, it's also a great opportunity to space out and think about other things, like why your vacuum is always breaking down, or what you should really be majoring in at school.

Friday, Aug. 21

Timberworks Lumberjack Show

1:30, 4 and 7 p.m.

Celebration Park

The lumberjack. The manliest specimen known to humanity. The flannel. The suspenders. The muscles. Timberworks Lumberjack Show epitomizes the Lumberjack Way, combining athleticism, showbiz and a hard day's work in a brawny spectacle. These woodcutting man-letes compete in a variety of events, from the lesser-known power saw to the infamous log roll. The gladiator-style log joust tests balance, strength and speed, while the axe-throw challenges the competitor in strength and precision - hitting a five-inch bull's-eye from 20 feet away with a hefty axe is no easy feat. Skeptical? Come experience the log-cuttin', pancake-lovin', lumberjack magic for yourself.

Saturday, Aug. 22

Leaping Llama and Llama Limbo

8 a.m.

Toyota Blue Ribbon Pavilion

The Leaping Llama and Llama Limbo are events in the 4-H llama shows taking place today. These llama wonders will partake in thrilling llama competitions, including showmanship and an obstacle course. There's more llama fun. Ever seen a llama pirate? No? Then prepare yourself for the llama costume competition, a 4-H llama favorite. Who would have thought these awkward creatures could be so versatile? The llama-ssibilities are endless. Don't be the llama loser lacking in llama literacy, llama on over.

Sunday, Aug. 23

Elvis Impersonator Contest

1-5 p.m.

Farm Bureau Building

This pelvis-shaking contest is a fair highlight. Each Elvis impersonator gets a chance to strut his stuff, showing off great talent, over-the-top personality and colorful clothes. These criteria determine who is the best Elvis while, at the same time, loading the contest with enjoyment and entertainment. Who said that one Elvis is enough? Come see a whole army of Graceland heartthrobs.

The Lucas Oil Demolition Derby and Fireworks

5:30 p.m.

Hoosier Lottery Grandstand

This year's extended State Fair will close with a bang. Literally. The Lucas Oil Demolition Derby and Fireworks presented by ampm is a free event in which some of the state's top competitors vie for the title of "Indiana State Fair Champion." Watch as '87 Chevy Celebrities and wood-paneled station wagons go bumper to bumper; it's the only time when the appropriate response to a car crash is a joyful squeal. Fireworks will begin around 9:15 p.m.

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