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George Vlahakis

Erin Roth
Traditional Arts Indiana

Last modified: Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Traditional Arts Indiana to present Hoosier music and masters at State Fair

IU partners with Indiana Arts Commission to preserve state's heritage

EDITORS: Background on the winners of the Indiana State Fair Masters Awards and musical performers at Traditional Arts Indiana Day at the Indiana State Fair is available at

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Traditional Arts Indiana, a partnership between Indiana University's Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology and the Indiana Arts Commission, will present musicial performances by Hoosiers and recognize the talents and knowledge of other artisans at the Indiana State Fair on Aug 15.

For the second straight year, TAI and the Indiana State Fair will honor Indiana State Fair Masters. Lee and Crae Eller, Belgian Draft Horse breeders and showmen from Hamilton County; and the William and Arlene Canary family, dairy farmers from Johnson County and long-time contributors to the State Fair's Pioneer Village, will receive the award this year.

The Indiana State Fair Masters Award honors artisans for their uncommon skills, knowledge and generosity to the communities and fairs in which they live and participate. The two families will receive their awards Aug. 15 at 3 p.m. at the Home and Family Arts Building. There will be a free ice cream social sponsored by Edy's immediately afterwards.

This year's Traditional Arts Indiana Stage will feature a bluegrass music performance by participants in one of Indiana's first master-apprentice programs and by two of the state's most accomplished traditional music ensembles, the Not-Too-Bad Bluegrass Band and Mariachi Acero. The performances will be on the Main Street Stage at noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:15 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. on Aug. 15.

TAI and the Indiana State Fair seek to shine the spotlight on family and tradition. The focus is apt, for the fair has been built on the time, energy and direction of countless families. Over many generations, the fair's families have shared so much of their knowledge, learning from some and teaching others, and ensuring that the fairs of the future will be bound to the fairs of the past.

Artistic, occupational and cultural traditions of Indiana vary greatly, and the Indiana State Fair is the perfect place to take them all in. "From hand-hooked rugs and hand-pieced quilts, newly-shorn sheep and gleaming draft horses, to purple-ribbon pies and cookies," says Dorothy Ilgen, director of the Indiana Arts Commission, "the State Fair is filled with traditions important to the history and heritage of Indiana."

Since 1853, the Indiana State Fair has encouraged sharing through exhibition and friendly competition. Rooted historically in a common desire to improve agrarian ways of life, the fair has grown into a celebration that lures thousands of Hoosiers, rural and urban alike. "We are delighted to recognize and show our appreciation to these traditional artisans," said William Stinson, executive director of the Indiana State Fair. "Through their exhibits, talents, volunteerism and care of our great event, they are very deserving of the title Indiana State Fair Master."

"Folklorists have long appreciated the extraordinary found in ordinary places, and the fair is a special place where these seemingly ordinary arts and artists are highlighted, and the pursuit of excellence and beauty is encouraged," said John McDowell, chair of the IU Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology.

Traditional Arts Indiana is dedicated to expanding public awareness of our traditional arts and nurturing a sense of pride among Indiana's traditional artists. TAI staff members travel all over the state to promote cultural understanding and education. For additional artist or program information or to arrange interviews, contact Erin Roth at 812-855-0418 or Beth Campbell at 765-288-9173.