Community Things to Do

The Ultimate Guide to Attending the 2021 Indiana State Fair

Since 1892, the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center has been hosting the annual state fair with tons of sights, sounds, food, fun and games for folks to enjoy. 

If you’ve been there before, you know that it’s definitely worth going back. If you’ve never been there before — well, can we say we’re just a little jealous? Seeing the Indiana State Fair for the first time is a remarkable experience!

Without further ado, let’s jump into all of the fair-related information you need to plan your adventure:

2021’s Theme: Celebrating the Hoosier Spirit

2020 marked an aberration in the State Fair’s long history, as the pandemic forced the fairgrounds to close its gates and cancel the event. It’s only appropriate, then, for this year’s theme to be “Celebrating the Hoosier Spirit.” 

The Hoosier spirit has always been optimistic, determined and resilient. We Hoosiers can weather tough storms, and we approach challenges with a can-do attitude and a steadfast (even stubborn) sense of resolve. We have the heart and determination it takes to overcome any barrier to our goals — and that’s worth celebrating.

The Basics: Days, Hours, Tickets and Safety Protocols

The 164th Indiana State Fair opens on Friday, July 30, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 22. In a change from previous years, it will only be open to the public on Wednesdays through Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Midway hours are a bit different and run as follows:

  • Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
  • 12 p.m. – 10 p.m. Wednesdays
  • 12 p.m. – 11 p.m. Thursdays
  • 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Fridays through Sundays
  • 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22

General admission tickets at the gate are $13 — only children five years of age and under get in free. If you plan your trip in advance, however, you can visit this link and pick up discounted tickets up to 35% off — or you can go on $3 Thursdays when admission to the gates is reduced to make the fair affordable to everyone.

Midway wristbands are sold online for $25 through Aug. 1 and can be purchased on-site for $35, while tickets for individual rides are $1.50 each.

If you’re still concerned about the ongoing trouble with COVID-19, please note: Attendees at the fair who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks, but those who have not been vaccinated are encouraged to mask up for their safety.

Parking: Where to Find It and the Alternatives

Parking is $10 per vehicle for the entire day, but the only fully open lot is in the Fairgrounds Infield. 

South Lot, on 38th Street, is intermittently available: It’s closed on Wednesdays and Fridays, and only opens at 2 p.m. on Thursdays. Saturdays and Sundays, the lot is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

There’s additional fair parking on 42nd Street at the Indiana School for the Deaf from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, and from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays through Sundays.

These aren’t your only options, however. If you (like many folks in Indianapolis) enjoy cycling, you can bike your way to the Fairgrounds and leave your bike at a free, secured rack just off the Monon Trail past 38th Street or the new parking rack at 39th Street and Fall Creek Parkway. Biking to the fair also earns you $1 off general admission. 

Public transportation is also encouraged. IndyGo Routes 39 & 4 will bring you right to the main entrance on 38th Street for $1.75 per ride or $4 for an all-day pass (less if you’re under 18 or over 65). 

Ridesharing is also welcomed. Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers will be able to drop off their passengers at Gate 3. Just give your driver 3700 Woodland Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46205 for your drop-off or pick-up location.

Things to Do, See and Eat

It’s impossible to list everything there is to do at the Indiana State Fair on one page, so we’ll hit the highlights.

Free Concerts

If you’re a music fan, you’ll love the free concerts starting at 7:30 p.m. each night, including:

  • Yacht Rock Night – July 30
  • John Waite and Kyle Cook of Matchbox Twenty – July 31
  • Mary Mary – Aug. 1
  • Josh Turner – Aug. 4
  • Run Forrest Run, Ultimate 90s Party Band – Aug. 5
  • Noah Cyrus – Aug. 6
  • Blanco Brown – Aug. 7
  • Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds – Aug. 8
  • For King & Country – Aug. 11
  • HYRYDER – Grateful Dead Tribute Band – Aug. 12
  • Vince Neil – Aug. 13
  • Home Free – Aug. 14
  • Casting Crowns – Aug. 15
  • Happy Together Tour – Aug. 18
  • Barracuda – Aug. 19
  • The Beach Boys – Aug. 20
  • Latino-Fest, featuring AK7, Banda Blanca and others – Aug. 21
  • Gospel Music Festival with Hezekiah Walker – Aug. 22

New Attractions

Good music isn’t the only source of good fun at the fair, of course! There are miles and miles of shows, games, rides and food to be discovered. Some of the newest attractions include:

  • The Double-Decker Carousel – This isn’t your grandma’s carousel, folks…this is a gorgeous double-decker twist that will delight kids (and kids at heart) of all ages.
  • The Mighty Mike Show: Ever wish you were around during the Roaring 20s? You can catch a sideshow attraction that’s right out of that era, with jugglers, strongman routines and dancers.
  • The Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show – They’re lumberjacks, and that’s okay — and they’re happy to display some mad skills like ax throwing, log rolling and more!

Fair Food

If you’re looking for food, all we can tell you is that all fair food is good food, but the food at the Indiana State Fair may be particularly delicious. You can find your own deep-fried slice of heaven (or something equally bad for you) by checking out things like:

  • Buttermilk Wafflewich (by the American Dairy Association Indiana Inc.)
  • Bavarian Cream Puffs (by The German Corner)
  • Deep-Fried Cheesecake Bites (by AP Concessions and Deep Fried Sweet Concessions)
  • Winner-Winner Chicken Dinner (by Rick Concession)
  • Outlaw Burger (by Indiana Ribeye)
  • Philly Cheesesteak Fries (by Miss Piggy’s)

…and more! 

Grab your shoes, your wallet and your family, and get going — because the Indiana State Fair only comes around once a year!