The Indiana State Fair is a beloved tradition and a foundational summer break activity. The 2023 Indiana State Fair runs from July 28 through August 20, Wednesday-Sunday. That’s eighteen days of festivities with tons of FREE things to do every single day.
Free Things to Do at the Indiana State Fair
There are so many things to see and do at the State Fair with your kids—animals, 4-H projects, the Dairy Barn, and so much more! Expenses can add up quickly on such an outing with your family, so here is a guide to the best free things to do at the State Fair with your family. If you want to save even more, check out the 2023 Indiana State Fair Guide to Discounts, Coupons, and Deals.
The Glass Barn
The Glass Barn offers a unique learning experience where you can connect your children with local agriculture, educate them on what farmers do, and show them how food goes from farm to table. The many interactive exhibits and games will immediately grab your child’s attention and help them appreciate food in a new way. The Glass Barn is open daily from 9 am-9 pm.
The State Fair Parade
Off Main Street, you will be able to find the Indiana State Fair Parade full of exciting things to see! You can expect tractors, floats, and more in this themed parade. The parade can only be viewed off of Main Street. This daily event is offered at 1 pm on Thursdays and Saturdays and at 6:30 pm on all other days. The timing of the evening parades is perfect for after-school fun.
Little Hands on the Farm
The Little Hands on the Farm activity is a family favorite of ours and a must-do on your trip to the Indiana State Fair. Located in the Family Fun Park, kids get to be farmers for the day and participate in various chores around the farm. Kids love harvesting crops in exchange for a fun prize at the end!
Head on over to the Corteva Agriscience FFA Pavilion for free mini-golf! This is a fun and easy way to have fun at the fair, without breaking the bank. This building is full of other fun things to do, such as the country market and a petting zoo for little ones! This activity is open daily from 8 am-8 pm.
Tractor Shuttle Ride
Take advantage of free shuttle rides around the fairgrounds! This service used to charge a fee, but now you and your family can ride together for free. My kids love the big tractors and can’t wait to ride this year!
See the Parakeets and Butterflies
New in 2023, the Parakeet Encounter located east of the DNR building gets your kids up close with some of the most colorful creatures at the fair. You’ll also find the Butterfly Garden at the DNR building. Both of these immersive experiences are open from 9 am-8 pm.
Land of Legends: Indiana’s Basketball Legacy
The 2023 State Fair theme is The State That Grew the Game. Indiana’s basketball history is honored in a new, informative exhibit that allows visitors to learn about the sport, players, and stories that have shaped the Hoosier heritage. Find the exhibit in the Harvest Pavilion.
Visit the Giant Wheel
Be sure to check out the Giant Wheel. And when I say giant, I mean 150 feet tall! This is the perfect photo opportunity. Can you get the entire wheel in your family selfie? The wheel is located in the Farm Bureau Building parking lot.
Xpogo: Extreme Pogo Stunt Team
Daily at the fair, catch this daring performance by a team that earned a spot on two seasons of America’s Got Talent! See incredible tricks and flips as performers jump over nine feet in the air on their pogo sticks. Find the show in The Backyard, with daily performance times varying.
Tour the Animal Barns
There are many barns throughout the grounds of the State Fair. From horses, cows, pigs, sheep, and more, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with countless animals. My kids love visiting the horse stables to see the beautiful, medal-winning horses. Some of them are huge! You could easily spend your day just visiting the animals at the fair. The barns are open daily from 9 am-8 pm.
The DNR Building has live insects, snake shows, and giant fish in aquariums. Best of all, outside in the back, there’s a FishIN’ pond for kids to try their luck at fishing. Register at the table behind the DNR building and listen to a short talk on fishing tips and safety. Then cast your line and see what you catch! TIP: be sure to register early, as this is a popular event for ages 5-17.
State Fair Cinema
Ready to sit back and relax a bit during a long hot day around the fairgrounds? The State Fair Cinema is located in the air-conditioned Harvest Pavilion, west of the grandstands. This year, the cinema will show movies throughout the day, including family-friendly basketball movies. Bring your kids and get comfy while you wait for your next burst of energy. I’ll be here enjoying my BBQ Pork Split.
Travel back in time when you and your family visit Pioneer Village! Nestled between Machinery Field and the MHS Family Fun park, this little village is straight out of the 1800s. Here, you can experience the Opry House, Antique Tractor Exhibit, and demonstration field. Want to channel your inner historian? Pioneer Village is also home to what researchers say might be the oldest Moline Universal Model E Road Tractor still in existence today!
Learn about your favorite barnyard animals all in one place! Visit Animal Town just east of Little Hands on the Farm and the Bubble Tower. There’s an Interactive Animal Experience with beef and dairy cattle, chickens, goats, draft horses, llamas, rabbits, sheep, and swine. Stick around for Livestock chats.
This is just a sampling of all the things you can do for free at the State Fair with your kids. Get creative, and have an entire day packed full of family fun without having to spend more than the price of admission! It’s amazing how much you can do at the fair for such a great value – and don’t forget, children 5 and under attend for free! The State Fair runs from July 28-August 20. Grab your tickets on the Indiana State Fair website.