Truitt Celebrates 31 Years Covering Indiana State Fair

Gary Truitt (Hoosier Ag Today Network, Zionsville, IN) spent much of August at the Indiana State Fair, but this is not unusual, he has been doing it for the past 31 years.  Founder of the statewide radio network Hoosier Ag Today, Gary attended his first State Fair in 1985. "I was in a trailer parked just outside the swine barn doing my broadcasting over a telephone line," he remembers. “This was before satellites and the Internet so there was literally a copper wire that ran to almost every radio station in the state that carried my live reports.” Today, Gary and his team of HAT reporters use wireless technology to produce and distribute digital audio reports to their network. He’s been an eyewitness to the transformation of the fair over the past three decades. "You used to come home covered in dust because most of the roads on the fairgrounds were not paved. Most of the buildings have also undergone significant renovation. The cattle barn used to be a pretty dark and dismal place."  The structure and operation of the fair has also changed over the years, he added. "Things used to be rather casually run; today it is much more professional and businesslike." He emphasized, “One thing that has not changed is that Indiana agriculture is the centerpiece of the fair. It has always been billed as the showcase for agriculture, and that aspect has become even more intentional in recent years."

He observed that development of the north side of the Indiana State Fairgrounds has been focused on providing a venue to showcase 4-H, agriculture, youth, and ag heritage. "With so many state fairs moving away from their agricultural heritage, it is nice to see the Indiana State Fair stick to its roots," Gary said. One of his more memorable moments was the time he broadcast from the Swine Barn. "Somebody had the bright idea of having me set up my broadcast location in the Swine Barn. It turned out to be one of the hottest summers in Indiana history, so the Swine Barn was not a nice place to be. Neither the hogs nor I wanted to be there.”  He continued, “One of my guests was then-Senator Evan Bayh.” He recalls that the Senator was just as “unhappy as the hogs and I were about being in the barn with triple digit temperatures.” Gary has evolved several traditions over the years including starting each day with a cold glass of chocolate milk from the Dairy Bar. He compiled a list of the best long-time vendors at the fair. "The strawberry shortcake in the Ag Hort building is not to be missed, and the best sweet corn comes from the stand on the west end of the Harvest Pavilion,” he said. For protein, he alternates between the Hoosier ribeye and the pork tent each day. Again this year, Gary led an experienced team of reporters, all veterans of the State Fair, including Kathleen Stubbe Truitt, Andy Eubank, Cayla McLeland, and Jon Truitt.
Gary interviews Cindy Hoye, Director of the Indiana State Fair, left, and Sue Ellspermann, Indiana Lieutenant Governor, right. 







Hoosier Ag Today was founded in 2006 for the specific purpose of serving the informational needs of the Hoosier agricultural community and currently has 65 radio stations broadcasting its programs.  Also, HAT operates a multimedia website, smartphone app, and publishes a daily e-mail newsletter.