August 10, 2007

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

State fair: A tribute to what is good in Indiana

Shirley Vogler MeisterLast year, I wrote a column titled “A tale of two Shirleys.” It explained how I was mistakenly credited for making a beautiful hooked rug that won a prize and was then sold at an auction at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis.

When told about this, I was shocked because I have no talents for such handiwork.

In a “Faithful Lines” column, I credited the real winner, Shirley Proctor, a Quaker friend and longtime member of First Friends Meeting in Indianapolis.

However, in early marriage, I did knit dishcloths for a while. I also sewed for myself and my three daughters until I realized that buying clothes on sale or at thrift shops was more economical.

However, I still have a dress I made that each daughter wore at her first Communion. More challenging was once sewing a sports coat for my husband. He wore it proudly, but it bothered me because I knew every flaw in it.

There are probably few flaws in the beautiful exhibits and entries from talented Hoosiers in the countless competitions at the Indiana State Fair. The Home and Family Arts Building is filled with handiwork and art. It is delightful to admire such talent, patience and “stick-to-it-iveness.”

County and state fairs nationwide are an annual tribute to all that is right and good in America. I’m city-bred, and as a girl often pretended to be a country woman surviving in the Old West. Never mind that as a girl visiting a farm cousin’s family, I was frightened of things as harmless as a grasshopper.

The state fair’s Pioneer Village reminds me of how my girlfriends and I often pretended to be pioneers or missionary nuns. However, nearly every area of the fair reminds me of good experiences even when viewing the animals, walking through the Midway, enjoying countless exhibits and performances, and soaking up the ambience.

Modern state fairs, however, are not fantasies. They represent reality and they even incorporate religious services and Masses into busy days for those who work and exhibit there—or so I thought.

While writing this column, my state fair contacts said unless Churches and clerics stepped forward to provide religious services, there would probably be none this year. If so, this is as disappointing for fair officials as for those expecting such spiritual opportunities on two Sundays.

However, on Aug. 12, Contemporary Christian Music Day will be at the WFMS Free Stage and a Veteran’s Memorial Service will be held on Aug. 19.

Sincere kudos and prayers go to those who organize and volunteer at the annual Right to Life pro-life exhibit (contact

Also, don’t forget the Indiana State Fair Train, making 10 round trips per day from the Depot in Fishers, Ind., to the fairgrounds. (Call 317-773-6000 for more information.)

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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