INDIANAPOLIS -- Even though fewer Hoosiers farm in the 21st century, the tradition of the agricultural fair lives on.

Like today, the fairs of the past were conducted for two main reasons: business and culture.

“Socials, to bring the farm men, women and children from the isolation of their farms once a year,” said R. Douglas Hurt, department head of history at Purdue University in West Lafayette.

The fairs also provided a place for Hoosiers to make connections, compete with their offerings and test-drive expensive, cutting-edge machinery.

“You start to see a shift in the 1850s to more mechanized implements,” Hurt said. Farm tools switched from being made by blacksmiths to larger operations we now know as companies like John Deere and International Harvester.

-- Jeremy Ervin, Ball State University

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