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Erin Roth
Traditional Arts Indiana

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Monday, August 4, 2003

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 and Ethnomusicology and the Indiana Arts Commission, is sponsoring a fiddle contest Saturday (Aug. 9) at 10 a.m. at the Indiana State Fair and will present more music by Hoosiers and recognize the talents and knowledge of other artisans at the fair on Aug 14.

For the first time, TAI is sponsoring the Traditional Arts Indiana State Fair Fiddle Contest. Held on the WFMS Free Stage, the contest will be a friendly competition among some of Indiana's finest fiddlers. Fiddle contests have a long history in the United States dating back to the early 1700s, and there are no questions about Indiana's longstanding dedication to the fiddle.

For the third straight year, TAI and the Indiana State Fair will honor Indiana State Fair Masters. The Jim and Randee Patton family, breeders from Montgomery County; and Mary K. and Raymond Borgman, candy makers from Hancock County, will receive the award this year on Aug. 14 in the Home and Family Arts Building. There will be a free ice cream social sponsored by Edy's immediately afterwards.

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.

Traditional Arts Indiana also will present a bluegrass music performance by participants in one of Indiana's first master-apprentice programs and by two of the state's more accomplished traditional music ensembles, Freduemacher German polka band and Off n Runnin bluegrass band. The performances will be on the Main Street Stage at noon and at 1:15, 2:30, 3:15, 4 and 5:15 p.m. on Aug. 14.

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. "The Indiana State Fair is perhaps the only place where the diversity of Hoosier occupations, skills, arts, crafts and celebrations can be a shared experience for people from around the state and across the country," said Dorothy L. Ilgen, executive director of the Indiana Arts Commission. "Through Traditional Arts Indiana, the Indiana Arts Commission is proud to honor the 2003 Indiana State Fair Masters and the cultural heritage they represent and preserve."

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 and 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