Indiana State Fair

I kind of forgot how much I love going to the fair. It was a summer staple growing up – I was a 4-H farm kid and showed my mini lop rabbits for 10 years at the Gibson County Fair. A few of my other projects made it to the state fair and we came up a few times to see them, but other than working at the library’s booth, I don’t think I’d really had the fair experience for about five years.

Hanson played on the free stage Friday night and a bunch of my Kentucky crew came up for it, so we decided to make an afternoon/evening out of it and had so much fun!

I tried the lemonade strawberry boba first thing and it was kind of like an elevated lemon shake-up. It’s supposedly new to the fair this year. The bobas at the bottom of the drink are squish liquid filled creations that didn’t really dissolve, so I had to fish them out at the end to get them all.

I also had the best funnel cake known to man. This booth is over by the midway area and has a bunch of different flavors like red velvet and mint chocolate chip. It was by far the best thing I ate at the fair and I almost finished the whole thing off by myself.

The fair also has an upscale beer/wine garden of sorts this year. Maybe it was there last year too, but for those who enjoy an adult beverage, there are moonshine lemon shake ups, alcohol infused ice cream and sangria along with local Indiana brews to choose from.

Also new to the fair this year: the Subaru skyride. I couldn’t get anyone on it with me but enjoyed my solo ride from one end of the fair to the other.

I also got some fried okra, so I wasn’t just eating sweet foods. Verdict on that: not great. My homemade okra is way better. Should have gone with something else, like the inside out grilled cheese, which was on my list to try but I got too full before I found it.

Then it was time for the main event: Hanson! It was SO NICE to not have to travel very far to see my favorite band. I don’t think they had played in Indy since 2011 and it was long overdue. Hanson, if you’re reading this, us Hoosiers are tired of fighting Chicago traffic to see you at the House of Blues.

The place was really full – the usual crowd was there at 3 p.m. waiting out in the hot sun (not doing that anymore) and there was actually some seating, which is rare at a Hanson show. We however, did not get to sit down because by the time we were done doing fair things, all seats were taken and it was standing room only.

Great show, great set list and lots of energy from my favorite band. Come back next year!!

Weekend Trip to Washington D.C.

Back in the spring, Hanson announced two special concert dates that had them playing with symphony orchestras. I’d just finished complaining about the lack of a new album (it’s been FIVE YEARS) and saying that I was tired of them touring on the old stuff and would rather forfeit a couple years of concerts in favor of getting some new songs. But you know how it goes – even though you’re slightly irritated with your favorite band, you just can’t quit them.

So my friend Lacy and I decided to make a weekend trip out of it – she’d never been to D.C. before and it had been about seventeen years (getting old!) since I’d last visited the nation’s capitol. I decided to drive out and fly back, which enabled me to get the West Virginia, Maryland and Virgina state signs.

I left Indiana around 7:30 a.m. and made it to our hotel in VA by 6 p.m. Lacy and I didn’t do much that evening other than eat at a nearby thai/Chinese place called Big Bowl. It was really good, with big portions and I’d definitely eat there again!

Friday morning, we were up super early to catch the Metro for the 45 min. ride to downtown D.C. Our day started with a tour of the White House, which seemed fairly short compared to the amount of time we spent waiting in the security line to get in. Once inside, we toured the East Wing, which has lots of historical artifacts and presidential portraits for visitors to see.

Following the White House tour, we grabbed a quick snack, then headed to the Holocaust Museum for a few hours. This museum is definitely not for the feint of heart – it’s a very sobering place and you will leave with a heavy heart.

From there, we quickly took in the Library of Congress (amazing!) and met up with the intern from Todd Young’s office for our tour of the Capitol building.

By the end of the tour, we were starving and took an Uber to Founding Farmers, a restaurant owned by the North Dakota Farmers Union. All ingredients for their dishes are locally sourced and the money goes back to family farms. The food was outstanding – I had cornbread, chicken fried steak, green beans and macaroni and cheese. Lacy had a french dip type of sandwich. We both said we could have eaten there every meal. Highly recommended if you find yourself in the D.C. area!

After lunch, we went back down to the National Mall to visit the remaining memorials we hadn’t really had time to thoroughly see, starting with the WWII Memorial. We hadn’t been there very long when it started to pour down rain, so we tried to take cover under the trees and started walking up to the Lincoln Memorial where we waited the rain storm out. I had changed into my rain boots that I’d been lugging around in my backpack all day, but Lacy’s feet were soaked so instead of walking around the Tidal Basin, we decided to call it a day.

Saturday we slept in a little, then took the scenic, toll-free route to Arlington National Cemetery. We spent about three hours there, visiting John and Jackie Kennedy’s graves and watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. That was an amazing experience that I don’t think you fully appreciate as a kid.

From there, we drove down to National Harbor to eat at Succotash, which was underwhelming. Both Lacy and I agreed that we should have just eaten at Founding Farmers again!

Then it was time for the REAL reason we were there – Hanson at Wolf Trap for their String Theory show with the National Symphony Orchestra. I personally am not a classical music person, so I really had no idea what to expect but I was sonically overwhelmed by how beautiful the arrangements were. It was also a much more relaxed atmosphere – the show was seated, which almost never happens at a Hanson concert – and people weren’t fighting to get front row or crowding each other to get closer. After 32 shows, I needed a break from all that and it was so nice to just sit back and enjoy the music.

The concert lasted about two hours with a short intermission in the middle. My favorite was Yearbook, but I also really loved how Siren Call and You Can’t Stop Us sounded with orchestral arrangements. A few songs seemed out of place to me (Where’s the Love) but I understand why they included them.

Sunday morning I had to be up bright and early to catch my 6:30 flight back to Indy. Such a great weekend in D.C. and I can’t wait to see the guys play at the Indiana State Fair this weekend!