The newly renovated Coliseum at the Indiana State Fair is the featured centerpiece of this year’s fair. The $63 million renovation gave a new look to the 75 year old complex and filled it with lots of high tech gear. However, during opening ceremonies on Friday, all the talk was about dirt — specifically the dirt on the coliseum floor. As Fair Executive Director Cindy Hoye explained this no ordinary dirt, “It is exactly 16 inches of dirt, not 15 inches or 17 inches, but 16inches. In addition, it has to be the right kind of dirt, a specific mixture of sand and clay.” Hoye says the State Fair hired a special consultant to help them manage the dirt in the Coliseum show arena, “You have to maintain it properly not letting it get too wet or too dry.”
During the ceremonies, dirt from the old Coliseum floor was symbolically mixed with new dirt to represent the blending of the old and the new. While the renovated building will be used for many events, Hoye said livestock shows will still be a central part of the building, “We brought back the livestock wall and made sure it was the right height for the draft horse hitches and for the 4-H cattle shows.” Hoye added, while concerts and other activities will be held in the building, the needs and concerns of the agricultural community were important and were taken into consideration when redesigning the interior.
Hoye said the new design makes it a great place to watch livestock shows and, with the addition of high lighting and sound, the shows will have a very modern feel. “The Fair is all about dirt and kids, and this building is where they come together,” Hoye stated.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence told HAT that the Coliseum is a perfect icon for Indiana agriculture, “The blending of the old and the new shows us where we have been and the modern elements point to where we are going.” Pence said the Coliseum holds special memories for him since it is where he had his first date with now First Lady Karen Pence. Pence, an extremely enthusiastic supporter of the State Fair, praised State Fair officials for their hard work and vision in renovating the Coliseum and for putting on a great 2014 Fair.