Monday, August 16, 2010

A Japenese cheese KISS and a cup of tea with the executive director

“Each day begins with a big cup of strong black coffee!” These were the words spoken by Cindy Hoye, Executive Director of the State Fair, after being asked what a typical day looks like when those 17 days of fun are in full swing. I had the special privilege to interview Cindy during my blogging visit to the fairgrounds last Monday. Energetic, humble and fun would be three words to describe this dynamic woman who has been working for the State Fair for the past 23 years.

Her position as executive director is a very important job, yet Cindy transfers the credit of the Fair’s success to those doing the little things to make everything happen. Some of these people include the parking crew, electrical crew, and the busy bee volunteers out there every day making sure the pieces of the puzzle fit together to make the fair happen. “In the grand scheme of things, the front line volunteers and crew are the most important people on these fairgrounds right now,” she says humbly with a sureness that makes you just want to get to know her more!

Right now the fair is being bombarded by pigs of every shape and size, which is appropriate as it is the Year of the Pig this year at the Fair. Cindy looks back to one of her favorite State Fair memories, which ironically involves a couple of these 4-legged beasts….It was a few years back, a couple had just purchased a few hogs at the fair and were driving them off the grounds in the back of their old pickup truck. “I like to say the pigs loved the Fair so much, they didn’t want to leave, because they hopped right off the truck. If you can imagine the expressions of the fairgoers seeing a group of people trying to corral two pigs running around the grounds and Binford Blv., it was definitely a site to see!” They even had the Indianapolis Police Department running after these pigs to get them back on the truck! Now, I wish I could have seen that!

We shared a laugh and then I found out a little bit more about Cindy:

Favorite Fair Food: "Too many! Grilled Cheese, pork ribs, ribeye sandwich.."
Coolest person to meet at the Fair: Morrie Williamson, the man who started the Pioneer Village on the grounds. "He epitimizes what the fair is all about, and still to this day contributes ideas to make the Fair better each year!"
Being a city girl, how did you get involved in agriculture? "I was involved with 4-H as a kid and showed rabbits.  After that, I bought a steer and showed him, then got hooked on 4-H and Marion Co. Extension.  I'm a 'wanna be' ag person and the fair is a perfect place to live that."
What is your favorite part of your job? "Seeing people - our guests - happy about this place.  Recently, I had a woman stop me and ask if I were part of making the fair happen.  I answered, yes, and she just thanked me and thanked me for such a great time.  This is what it's all about."

To my pleasant surprise, Cindy told me we would be visiting a few places during the interview! Off we went…

It was fun being “in” with the "cool kids" for one day!

Here are a few of the adventures we went on…

Cheese Sculpture
Cheese sculptor Sarah Kaufman, a friend of Cindy’s who actually stayed with Cindy during her time here, created a 7-foot wide cheese sculpture on site. This is the sixth straight year for the big cheese display.

Japanese Exhibit in the Expo Hall

The new "Bridges to Japan" exhibit in the Grand Hall, shows Indiana State Fair visitors what the Japanese culture is all about, as well as the many agricultural connections between the state and Japan. We had a chance to watch fairgoers take part in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

KISS - Backstage
Cindy took me backstage of Grandstand to see the crew putting together the KISS concert for that Monday evening. It was interesting to see the hospitality room –complete with zebra striped table cloths, the underground production room beneath the stage, and the people who help get the stage ready for a performance.

John Royer (left) the “sound guy” as he referred to himself, has been working for the Fair for 27 years and explained to me the concept of Live Sound Mixing. The two kinds of sound mixing he explained were Front of House, which is the sound the audience hears and Monitor mixing, which is exclusively for the performer's ear. So basically, the audience hears something totally different than the performers. He explained that the monitors can be very selective for the performers. The guitarist may just need to hear the drummer to stay on track, so his monitor is controlled so that he only hears the drummer. The proper monitor mix can minimize time delays on large stages to help synchronize the performance. In addition, the monitor mix can overcome the level of the House (audience) sound which can be confusing for performers to listen to on the stage. Interesting!

Overall, interviewing Cindy was such a great opportunity! I'm so happy she took the time and effort to show me around and go beyond "normal interview style" to give me a deeper look into the makings of the State Fair. Thanks Cindy!


  1. Nice interview Cindy is a great leader sure know her business.

  2. What a unique, behind the scenes look at the fair. Very interesting!!!!!

  3. Love it!!! Heard the concert was sold out that night!

  4. Fun! What a great, unique time you had!

    Thanks for sharing :)

  5. I love getting those behind the scene opportunities, memories that will last a lifetime. My summer internship in college I got to drive Sammy Terry around the grounds in a golf cart!


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