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George Vlahakis

Erin Roth
Traditional Arts Indiana

Last modified: Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Background: Traditional Arts Indiana Day at the Indiana State Fair

EDITORS: This news release is a sidebar to another news release about this year's activities on Aug. 15 by Traditional Arts Indiana at the Indiana State Fair, which you can find at Further information is available from Erin Roth at 812-855-0418 or Beth Campbell at 765-288-9173.

Below is information on the winners of this year's Indiana State Fair Masters Awards:

Lee and Crae Eller, Master Belgian Draft Horsemen, Hamilton County

One of the greatest talents any horseman can have is the ability to recognize a good horse "in the rough;" ungroomed, untrimmed, running wild in the field. Lee Ellers' father, Clifford, was well known for this ability. "I've heard guys tell me he could look through a horse in a minute," Lee said. "I mean, he had the eye." Modest men, neither Lee nor his son, Crae, will claim the eye for themselves, but their long string of Champion and Grand Champion Belgians seems to say otherwise.

Since 1935, the Eller family has had winning Belgian Draft Horses on their Hamilton County farm. They and their horses have traveled far and wide, winning champion and grand champion ribbons at shows across the country. They also farm a thousand acres in Hamilton County but, Crae laughs, they try not to let farming interfere with the horse business.

The William and Arlene Canary Family, Master Historic Dairy Farming Interpreters, Johnson County

At any time during the run of the Indiana State Fair, you can expect to find at least two and as many as a dozen members of Johnson County's Canary family at the Dairy Barn or Pioneer Village. About the only time you won't find them at either place is when they've all flocked to the Draft Horse Show.

Long-time dairy farmers, the Canarys have taken on the challenge of presenting historic agricultural practices to contemporary fairgoers. From running cream separators and milking machines to pitching wheat into a thresher, the Canary family re-enacts the practices of their family's past, keeping today's Hoosiers in touch with our long and deep agricultural roots.

Below is information on the musical performers at TAI Day at the Fair. All performances will take place Aug. 15 at the Main Street Stage sponsored by Click-It or Ticket.

The Master Apprentice Program

Bluegrass musician Angie Caldwell of Seymour, Ind., spent the last eight months teaching her apprentices -- and brother and sister -- Brendan, 9, and Jourdan, 8. Brendan learned to play the fiddle and Jourdan the mandolin. During their time with Angie, the two young people worked hard to hone their ensemble playing skills and to learn more traditional tunes. Modeled on similar programs all over the country, Traditional Arts Indiana's Master Artist-Apprentice program awards small grants to Master traditional artists to pass along their traditional skills and knowledge by working intensively with a qualified, dedicated apprentice. They will perform at noon and 1 p.m.

Not-Too-Bad Bluegrass Band

From the time that the father of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe, was a featured performer at the famed Bean Blossom Festival, bluegrass has been an Indiana passion. Especially popular in the Upland South, the musical form migrated north to Indiana as people moved from Kentucky and Tennesee in search of work. The Not-Too-Bad Bluegrass Band, a Bloomington-based group, is part of this bluegrass tradition. Four of the band's five members -- Bedford's Greg Norman, Kent Todd and Brady Stogdill and Nashville's Doug Harden -- were raised in the tradition. The fifth, Brian Lappin, was born in Buffalo, N.Y., and raised on radio, but he took to bluegrass like a natural. The group will perform at 2 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.

Mariachi Acero

Mariachi, the energetic celebratory music that is so much a part of Mexican family and community life, came out of the Mexican state of Jalisco in the 19th century. Broadly appealing, the music spread quickly across Central America and is now spreading quickly across the United States. A decade or two ago, we would have been surprised to hear mariachi in Indiana, but as the state's population grows and diversifies, this happy sound is becoming ever more a part of the Hoosier soundscape.

Following in the tradition of mariachi bands whose names identify their roots, Mariachi Acero is named for their hometown of East Chicago, Ind. Acero is Spanish for steel, reflecting the tremendous importance of the steel industry in that part of Indiana. Mariachi Aceros' 14 members all share a connection to East Chicago's Central High School. Thirteen years ago, then superintendent Dr. Jose Arrendondo suggested that Central band instructor Larry Lane start a mariachi band. Mariachi Acero started strong and never stopped. It has since become an East Chicago institution. Mariachi Acero will perform at 4:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m.