The Indiana State Fair 2013 

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And so it begins: August, the most Hoosier of months, anchored of course by the Indiana State Fair. This year's theme honors popcorn, and we like popcorn, so we think that's cool. But we also think there's a lot about the state fair to be appreciated, from its animals to its crazy whirling machines to the sheer joy of people watching.

We would be remiss in not mentioning the advanced science involved in deep-frying nearly anything.

Below, find our top picks for this year's Indiana State Fair, but first here are some important updates:

Ride your bike

If you can, walk or ride your bike to the fair. Pedal & Park is there to protect your bike, and given the massive carbon footprint of the fair, anything you can do to help will be greatly appreciated — by all creatures of Indiana.

Indiana State Fair creates a new, free app

The Indiana State Fair is the state's largest multi-day event celebrating Hoosiers' spirit and agricultural heritage.

With 140 food stands, dozens of barns and buildings, a mammoth midway and attractions galore spread out over 250 acres, the Great Indiana State Fair can seem a little overwhelming. That's why the fair has created a free, new and improved Indiana State Fair app for iPhone and Android users.

From exhibits and attractions to baby feeding stations and food vendors, the app offers six interactive maps with different categories of destinations.

The colorful app also includes listings of every fair event for every day of the fair; a list of all the Marsh Free Stage concerts; general information on hours, admission and special discounts; a special parking map showing the most convenient places to park; and a sharing feature that allows users to post comments and photos to their Facebook friends and Twitter followers. It even allows users to purchase discount admission tickets with a few simple touches.

The app is the most recent way fair officials have been keeping current on new technologies. The fair will frequently send out news and behind-the-scenes information through its Blue Ribbon Blog and YouTube channel. Want to learn more? All of these outlets can be found on the fair's web site at indianastatefair.com. — Aiste Manfredini

New recycling drive to kick off at Indiana State Fair

Thanks to the partnership between the Indiana State Fair Commission, Keep America Beautiful, the Alcoa Foundation and the Indiana Recycling Coalition, the Keep America Beautiful Recycling Drive will kick off at the Indiana State Fair this summer.

Keep your eye out for 60 new, well marked recycling bins, and new instructional wraps for 25 existing bins located throughout public spaces on the fairgrounds.

With more than 300 green plastic bins provided to the 150 participating vendors and the new-wheeled bins to move vendor materials, the Indiana State Fair is one of only three fairs nationwide to receive these resources. In addition, recycling questions of all kinds will be answered at an education booth in the Expo Hall, which will be staffed by the Indiana Recycling Coalition.

State Fair Top Picks, 2013

Friday, August 2

World's Largest Male Hog Contest @ Swine Barn, 7 p.m.

Karmin Concert @ Marsh Free Stage, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, August 3

World's Largest Popcorn Ball Unveiling @ Ball State Ag/Hort Building, 10 a.m.

Monster Truck Nationals pres. by Lucas Oil @ Hoosier Lottery Grandstand, 1 & 7 p.m. ($5)

Sunday, August 4

Hispanic/Latino Music Day pres. by Honda @ Marsh Free Stage, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Make it with Wool Fashion Show @ Home & Family Arts Main Stage, 1 p.m.

Smokey Bears Birthday @ DNR Front Porch, 1 p.m.

Monday, August 5

Popcorn Adventure @ Hoosier Lottery Grandstand Side Lot, 9 a.m. (and every other day of the fair!)

Vertical Horizon with Blind Melon @ Marsh Free Stage, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, August 6

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$2 Tuesdays @ State Fair, 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. (8/6 & 8/13)

World's Toughest Rodeo @ Hoosier Lottery Grandstand, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, August 7

Bats: Myths and Reality @ DNR Amphitheater, 1 p.m.

Indiana Okinawa Kenjinkai @ Dance Stage, 6 p.m.

Thursday, August 8

Giant Pumpkin Carving @ Ball State Ag/Hort Building, 1 – 9 p.m.

Kevin Costner and Modern West Band @ Marsh Free Stage, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, August 9

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World's Largest Drive-Thru Breakfast @ Main Street, 6 a.m. – 8 a.m., ($3)

Giant Hot Air Balloon Launch, Sunrise @ One Text or Call Could Wreck It All Infield, 6:50 a.m.

Saturday, August 10

Pole Vaulting @ State Fair Blvd., 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Indiana State Fair Cheerleading Competition Finals @ Hoosier Lottery Grandstand, 5 p.m.

Sunday, August 11

MHS pres. Freestyle Madness BMX show @ Hoosier Lottery Grandstand, 2 & 6:30 p.m.

The Flying Toasters @ DISH Main Street Stage, 8 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Monday, August 12

Styx @ Marsh Free Stage, 7 p.m.

Unlimited Rides @ the Midway for $15, Noon – 10 p.m.

Tuesday, August 13

Giant Watermelon, Tomato and Pumpkin Exhibit @ Ball State Ag/Hort Building, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Indiana State Fair Horse Pulls @ Hoosier Lottery Grandstand, 4 p.m., ($5)

Wednesday, August 14

Celebrity Milking Contest @ Livestock Nursery, 11:30 a.m.

Rooster Crowing Finals @ Poultry & Rabbit Bldg., 4 p.m.

Thursday, August 15

Cook and Belle @ Marsh Free Stage, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Montgomery Gentry @ Marsh Free Stage, 7 p.m.

Friday, August 16

Cake Decorating @ Home & Family Arts Culinary Stage, 12 p.m.

The Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band @ Marsh Free Stage, 8 p.m.

Saturday, August 17

Baton Twirling Competition @ Farm Bureau Building, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Spam Recipe Contest @ Home & Family Arts Culinary Stage, Noon

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Sunday, August 18

Elvis Impersonator Contest @ Farm Bureau Bldg., 4:30 p.m.

Lucas Oil Demolition Derby @ Hoosier Lottery Grandstand, 4:30 p.m., ($5)

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