2017 Indiana State Fair

The expectations game is always a gamble.  Certainly at the Iowa State Fair and the Minnesota State Fair, I’ve been fetishing for long enough that I tend to know what I’m getting into within reason.  Going to Missouri’s state fair for the first time in 2015, I knew that Missouri was a more smoking-friendly state but also that the fair’s overall attendance was a fraction of Iowa and Minnesota’s, and the results were mixed, as expected.  But going into the Indiana State Fair for the first time on August 19, 2017, I was looking at a smoker-friendly state combined with higher average attendance.  Every indication pointed to it being a hit.  So what can I say after fetishing there for more than 12 hours?  Let’s just say I’m almost sorry that I got a couple of really great sightings because it would be easier for my soul if I was just able to forget the entire nightmare of a day happened.  Yeah…it was that bad….and you’ll have to read on to experience the day as I did.  Suffice it to say my full-day sighting count was….39.   That’s a whopping two more sightings than I got on a random, thinly populated Wednesday night at the Iowa State Fair just last week.

I coupled this trip to the Indiana State Fair with a general vacation I took to the eastern Midwest, an area I hadn’t been to since I was a young boy.  I started the day in western Ohio, giving me a couple of hours of driving at the beginning of the day so I would get to the Indiana State Fair by mid-morning.  They offered a free shuttle bus service from an Indianapolis mall to the fairgrounds that I was very pleased with, and I got to the grounds around 10:45 bursting with excitement with sunny weather and a full day of fetishing ahead of me.  My first red flag for the day came at the front gate when all entrants had to walk through a metal detector before being let in.  And the guy in front of me almost had his Swiss army knife confiscated because “no knives were allowed”.  He spent a good two minutes talking down the gatekeeper before the guy let him take it in with him.  That was weird, I thought to myself, ultimately shrugging off their weapons checkpoint based on the fair being in a big-city environment with a theoretical higher potential from crime….but it was still nothing I’ve ever expected or experienced before at a fair.

And the fairgrounds itself was laid out….interestingly.  There’s a full-size regulation dirt track the occupies about 80% of the grounds with the grandstand overlooking it and parking in the middle….with the actual fair stuff going on around the circumference of the track.  The layout took some serious getting used to and it seemed like it took forever to get from Point A to Point B without the ability to weave through the streets in the conventional grid pattern of nearly every other fair I’ve attended.  The layout made the fair seem absolutely massive but it was a couple of blocks wide in a circle.  It had just about everything the other state fairs I’ve attended though…it was just a long, long walk on cement all day and night to cover it all.  Back to 11 a.m. I was acclimating myself to the grounds and generally kept my optimism high as I navigated.  On my very first pass through the sparsely populated mid-morning midway, I saw a late 20s dark blond dressed as though she worked for the fair was walking on through with cigarette in hand.  Sighting #1 was in the books with nearly 12 hours to go!

I ventured down a commercial exhibit block to see an extended family of several members where a late 20s blond in a pink tanktop and jean shorts was one of two smokers, the only one female.  She was hovering behind one of the stands and puffing away.  Not much in the way of IT factor or distinctive stylings from Sighting #2, but she would resurface about an hour later with cigarette in hand again.

Venturing west of the grandstand in the direction of where I got dropped off my shuttle bus, my first memorably hot smoker girl of the day was sitting on a bench with her boyfriend sharing a cigarette.  Sighting #3 was an early 20s dark brunette in a black tanktop and smurf blue jean shorts that fit her body nicely, with a badass pair of sunglasses complementing her look.  The good news is I got a bench parallel to the couple with the girl closest to me.  The bad news is she had her face turned away from me, so while I was getting photos, they were all side shots with very little revelation of her face. She and the boyfriend shared the cigarette about evenly, swapping it back and forth after every couple of drags.  The girl finished it off and crushed the cigarette out below her feet seconds before the couple began walking off.  I checked out the butt and it was a Marlboro Smooth.  Watching her perfect ass walk away, I had serious hopes I’d see her again later in the day, but unfortunately I wouldn’t.  Having been spoiled by the all-day-long smoking show from the trio at the 2015 Missouri State Fair, I always have it in my mind that there’s potential for my early finds at a given fair could turn out to be the next “12-hour sighting”.  This girl would have been a fantastic option for that kind of follow-up, but it wasn’t meant to be Saturday.  About a half hour into the day and I was entirely satisfied with the early trajectory, expecting a normal ascendancy of sighting frequency as the day went on.

Instead, the pace slowed considerably, with some tea leaves quietly emerging with the next two sightings.  Sighting #4 was a modestly attractive late 20s light brunette in black leggings sitting down on that block of commercial exhibits, clearly on a smoke break from working one of the stands in the area.  Only minutes later, the same girl was beckoning me like a carnival barker to the Andersen Window stand to apply for some drawing.  Not too much later, in front of a commercial exhibit building, a prettier 20-something smoker was seated on a two-sided bench.  Sighting #5 had long, curly light brown hair and was decked out in a black top and dark jeans.  I hadn’t really sensed a professional air about her and hadn’t really considered that she’d be working inside the commercial building, but I later found out she was.  She was holding her cigarette slightly over the top of bench so I sat just behind it.  This was good for a full frontal vantage point to the show but bad for photo-taking.  I sat and enjoyed the moment as she smoked her cork filter, sneaking peeks over my shoulder and hers, but wanted a picture of this and moved to her front, where I snapped a couple of pics, one of which she was in mid-drag.  It’s a little too far away to be perfect but she was a sight for sore eyes as she finished off her final drag, crushing it out and throwing the butt into a nearby trash can and then walking into the commercial building, making me aware she worked inside somewhere.  She was clutching a pack of Marlboro Black Menthols, handily revealing her brand despite the lack of direct ID of her discarded butt.  I didn’t see her smoking again, but that Marlboro Black Menthol pack helped me identify her later in the day when I saw her walk with the pack in hand into that same commercial exhibit building.  I was about an hour and a half into the day and while slightly behind where I’d prefer to be, there was no cause for concern yet about the day being a complete disaster.

The numbers sure seemed to be coming slowly in the hour or so to come though, but all would be forgiven around 1:30 when the girl who came to define an otherwise dreadful day made her first appearance with a cigarette.  Stepping out of this corn dog booth with cork-filter cigarette in hand was this 19-20ish brunette working the booth and briefly leaving the young male coworker to cover the stand himself.  Sighting #9 wasn’t conventionally gorgeous but she had a twinkle her eye and an innocence about her that fascinated me.  She wore her long brown hair up in a bun on top of her head to keep the sweat off her face as she worked, with a red T-shirt and medium-blue jean shorts on the bottom.  Her long legs were fully exposed from the upper thigh on down.  Plus I was getting a kick out of the fact that she was about to smoke her cigarette directly outside the booth where she worked, which I figured would be frowned upon by just about about everybody, especially her employer.  I got lucky as she was chatting with the guy as she slow-walked her way out, allowing me to get my camera ready and snap the shot where she was lighting up.  She was standing in the shadow of the fair booth so the lighting isn’t ideal, but it was as good of a shot as I was gonna get.  From there, she honestly put up a folding chair to sit on and propped her right leg up onto the stand, maximizing her relaxation on company time and using their own equipment to lean upon as she smoked.  She took long, heavenly drags sitting on that chair with considerable hold times and exhales entirely from her mouth that fired downward at consistent 45-degree angles.  The back of the line for the milk stand was overlapping with where I stood so I blended in nicely and I was certain that I was snapping a number of close-range pics when she was dragging in this relaxed break-time position, but I just sensed something was going wrong with the photos again (I was right…for whatever reason, none of them after the light-up pics took..and I was sick about it).  Nonetheless, I got an amazing farrow-to-finish sighting of a young cutie committed to her smoking to the point of consuming it directly in front of would-be customers.  She dropped the butt in the trash can next to the stand so I was denied the butt ID, but still walked away with a needed boost of adrenaline at that point in the day.

This corn dog stand was front and center in the grounds so I walked past it multiple times that day.  The inconvenient layout of the grounds limited my ability to cover it as much as I’d like to, but I found myself walking past it as often as possible as the afternoon went on, figuring there was a very good chance I’d see more of her.  The guy in the booth got to have his own smoke breaks at various junctures of the day, but it was the girl I was holding out for, particularly with the hope of a second chance at action photos in that adorable position she was in before.  About an hour and a half later in the day, I’d get my chance, walking upon her in mid-cigarette seated at the same place she was before, although unfortunately she wasn’t propping her right leg up on the side of the stand this time.  I’d only catch the last few drags of this cigarette, but was able to get that second chance I’d hoped for with the photos.  The shadow from the booth again kept the lighting from being perfect, but I certainly captured her essence in this round of snapshots.  That was the end for this girl’s daytime body of work, but I’ll save her evening sightings for later in the writeup.  There was one individual sighting on Saturday that I liked better, but the corn dog stand girl certainly defined August 19, 2017, a rare glimmer of light on a dark day of sightings.

And not long after my first encounter with the corn dog stand girl, I thought I might finally be starting to build momentum with Sighting #10, a family of smokers sighting on the benches near the grandstand where mother, daughter, and boyfriend were all smoking in front of the strollers holding the daughter’s young child.  From afar this daughter could pass for 16 but closer up she looked at least 19 or 20.  She had reddish dyed blond hair and some thick, nerdy glasses that prevented her from being top-tier, but the rest of her presentation was pretty astounding as she was standing in front of the bench everybody else was seated on smoking her cigarette and wearing an orange bare-midriff tanktop and very tight pale blue jeans that fit her shapely bottom beautifully.  I got a couple of photos and took a bench to their side to enjoy a solid smoking show with combination nose and mouth exhales following every drag.  An hour or so later, I’d see the same family sitting near the livestock barns enjoying another cigarette, which was very welcomed since there were so few smokers on the grounds.

In addition to extremely slow pacing for sightings, the unrelenting heat and humidity was also a central theme of the day.  The radio forecast the night before predicted 80 degrees but it had to have been at least 90 degrees, and staying hydrated was at times a greater priority than sightings.  Luckily, there was a bathroom across the street from the midway that had Pepsi machines selling water and soda/pop for $2 a bottle, a much better deal than was available with watered-down fountain drinks elsewhere on the grounds.  And I’ll go so far as to offer one more compliment of the Indiana State Fair.  They had delightful misting machines blowing cool, moist air onto the streets at multiple locations, far and away the best-utilized network of misting fans I’ve come across at fairgrounds.  Remember that last sentence, folks, because it will be the one and only time I’ll ever be paying a compliment to the Indiana State Fairgrounds!

The biggest tea leaf yet to the source of my problems would emerge from one of the day’s best sightings at around 2:30.  I saw from afar this adorable 22ish light brunette in a red tanktop and denim cutoffs standing at the policemen’s booth next to her boyfriend clutching a pack of Camel Light Menthols.  Sighting #13 was the most wholesome face of the day and she was just walking away from the police booth as I approached, following her as she seemed to be searching for someplace specific, continuing to clutch that white and green pack in her hand.  She and the boyfriend hid in the corner behind this tree…where she and only she lit up.  It’s so spectacular to see a girl of this pedigree being the only smoking member of a relationship, with her boyfriend standing by while she filled her body with toxic carcinogens.  As remote of a spot as they were standing, I was still able to sit down against this tree and snap some awesome pics…easily my best pics of the day if not the entire fair season.  Looking at the photos again now as I write this, it’s still incredible that this girl is a smoker as she has this classically wholesome Midwestern summer girl profile.  She sucked the cigarette down rather quickly with no stylistic bells and whistles, snuffing the cigarette out and tossing it in a dumpster a few yards away.  Unfortunately, the context this sighting took on a little later in the day would take some of its power away for me, but it was sweet relief at this moment and my third favorite sighting of the day.

I’d have far less success with timing with the girl who would have been Sighting #15.  Recall earlier in the day that I saw the Marlboro Black Menthol girl finishing her cigarette and heading into the commercial exhibit building where she worked.  I headed in there at one point to see if I could find the booth where she was working…and to get in the air conditioning and out of the insane heat for a few minutes.  While I wouldn’t locate that girl, I did come across a 22ish curly-haired blond in a black dress seated across from a guy at some booth offering facials….and she was holding a pack of Marlboro Lights in her hand!  I figured she was just about to head outside for a smoke break and kept pacing that aisle of vendors to wait her out.  She did ultimately get up….but instead headed to her own booth selling something else that I couldn’t identify.  She was merely talking to the guy at that booth briefly, and I’d later identify him as her boyfriend, presumably on her way back from the last smoke break!   Gahhh!  She was gorgeous too, probably the most beautiful face of the day for a smoker girl and really standing out in that short black dress.  This led me to continue walking through that commercial exhibit building every time I passed by it, hoping to catch her on a smoke break.  On TWO subsequent occasions in the next few hours, I would walk by her booth to see her not there, giddy as I progressed to the back of the building to find her arm in arm with the boyfriend, pack of cigarettes in front of them, but already having finished their cigarettes and moments away from returning to the building.  It was infuriating.  I may have had good timing with the corn dog stand girl but I narrowly missed three sightings by this beauty. There would have been no good place to watch even if I did get out there in time but I still felt robbed of seeing a cigarette in this girl’s lips.  I still counted her as a sighting though as she was clearly a smoker.  Indiana sure seemed to be capable of a lot, but it wasn’t coming through with what I’d hoped so far that day!

I would see another late teen girl in a black leather miniskirt at some point in the mid-afternoon.  She wasn’t smoking but leather skirts are my second-biggest reward in terms of young females.  This girl was a little chubbier and her skirt was less stylistically perfect than the leather miniskirted babe from the Iowa State Fair three days earlier, but she was still rocking it and I was hoping to have multiple run-ins with her over the course of the day just in case she would smoke, but I wouldn’t see her again.  I really respected her for enduring the sticky summer heat at the fair wearing black leather.

The sightings that I hoped would accelerate by the late afternoon as they do in most fair venues actually slowed to a crawl in Indiana on Saturday.  It was 5:30 and I was only at Sighting #19 when I came upon a mother-daughter duo behind the grandstand.  The mother wasn’t attractive but the daughter was decently so, a curly-haired mid-20s blond in a black and tanktop and jeans.  I managed a pretty decent photo despite challenging logistics and then sat behind them on the two-sided bench for a closer-up view before the two of them got up and started walking westward with cigarettes in hand.  It was such an amazingly rare moment on Saturday to see smokers actually walking through the grounds with cigarettes.  I followed until they both finished their cigarettes within seconds of each other, dropping them to the pavement and crushing them out.  The daughter was smoking a Camel Menthol while mom was smoking a Marlboro Light.

Up until this point, every time I saw something like that led me to believe my luck was about to change and the smokers were about to come out in significant numbers….that the evening crowd would be different….but it just kept not happening.  I was scratching my head wondering what the problem was because something just wasn’t right here.  Minnesota and Iowa have far fewer smokers than Indiana does but those fairs were running laps around this one for sightings numbers.  I began putting together that I hadn’t seen anyone nursing an alcoholic beverage all day.  Maybe this was a dry fairgrounds, I thought to myself, confining drinks to fenced-off areas the way my local county fair does.  Certainly that would have a role in curbing tobacco use and in keeping key demographics of attractive young partiers away from the fair.  More on that at the end of the writeup, but it was right around 6:00 that I finally got my kick-in-the-gut epiphany for the day.

Remember earlier when I said I saw that Andersen Windows vendor gal seated behind the vendor booths having a smoke?  I was walking past the spot where she was smoking again and happened to look up and see a sign representing a “designated smoking area” not far from where she sat.  Shit!  Smoking wasn’t even permitted in the common areas of this fair!  I had remembered reading years ago that the Indiana State Fair had experimented with a “smoke-free day” but hadn’t heard anything more about it…and hadn’t even considered going into the day that the place was smoke-free.  This location was about 100 yards south of where that wholesome brunette had her cigarette after talking to the cops, so she had just gone to the wrong spot.  The day was half over and I had squandered it not realizing the rules of the road, but I still had time to figure things out and proceeded to the information booth to get my hands on a fairgrounds map.  I sat down and looked it over thoroughly, quietly seething as I discovered how remote and inaccessible these designated smoking areas were.  Remember when I mentioned how I crossed the street from the midway to get $2 bottles of water and pop earlier?  I didn’t even realize it but that remote spot was a designated smoking area….and it was a place where a traffic conductor had to direct foot traffic across the street to even get to amidst the steady litany of auto traffic going down that street.

Back in 2013, I was petrified when I heard the Minnesota State Fair was instituting designated smoking areas on the grounds, but was relieved to notice when the time came that there was a plentiful 18 of them and were located in accessible and well-trafficked areas where I could still fetish without a huge change in my routine.  Everything I had feared would happen at the Minnesota State Fair actually did happen at the Indiana State Fair.  However many designated smoking areas there were (and I’d guess there were about eight), nearly all of them were way off the beaten path to where only the smokers who knew about their location in advance were likely to find them.  I progressed to the sparse north side of the grounds and found a couple of these designated smoking areas behind fences in places completely inaccessible to everybody but the workers.  The more I walked, the madder I got as it became clear how far out of the way this fairgrounds was going to make sure smokers felt unwelcome.  Coupling that with the lack of alcohol access and this fair was drawing all the wrong demographics, and it was no coincidence that most of the smokers I was seeing were workers on breaks.  Much like my theory on Summerfest in my adopted hometown, I suspect that years of making smokers feel unwelcome has become a self-fulfilling prophesy, and now smokers aren’t even bothering to show up anymore.  I figured since I was here, I would still stick around just in case things came alive at night, but at that point I felt sick that I had given this place $12 for gate admission.

After such a dark turn to the day, I had all the more respect and admiration for the vanishingly few smoking women I saw flaunting the oppressive restrictions.  One of them was Sighting #23, a late 20s light brunette in a gray top and dark jeans with high heels who I first spotted exhaling a huge blast of smoke directly into the most heavily trafficked walkway of the fair near the grandstand, likely an inadvertent (but ideally intentional) middle finger at the “designated smoking areas” she was ignoring.  I’d see this woman and her group (which included kids) on the grounds again an hour or two later, this time smoking on a bench in the midway, the smoker girl identifiable by those high-heeled platform shoes.

Sighting #26 was another girl smoking on the grounds behind the grandstand, a light brunette in a blue T-shirt and tan shorts, smoking in the presence of a nonsmoking guy.  She was at most 21 and had a pretty wholesome face.  She wasn’t gorgeous by any means but with so little going on, when I saw a young female on the grounds who was actually smoking and I had a respectable vantage point as I did here, I stuck around for the show.  I managed a few modest pics as well, particularly after the boyfriend cooperated by walking over to a nearby ATM machine to make a cash withdrawal as the stinky girlfriend smoked alone on the bench.

Sighting #29 was the only worthwhile sighting that I scored at that “designated smoking area” outside the midway with the pop machines where you have to cross the busy street to get to it but even that came with a pretty significant asterisk.  I could see an attractive 18-19ish girl of either Latino or Asian descent (sometimes it’s hard to tell!) sitting on the sidewalk lighting her cigarette amidst a cluster of nonsmoking late teen friends.  The asterisk comes from the fact that she had unsavory tattoos all over her arms and legs, all on full display with her tanktop and shorts showing off so much flesh.  She was pretty, but it was so sad to see how badly she had defiled her body.  She did everything she could to make up for it though, instigating what was far and away the longest dangle I’ve seen in 2017….and likely a few years before that.  She kept her hands busy arranging her light brown hair in a ponytail, and parked that smoldering cigarette in her mouth the entire time she was messing with her hair.  It had to have played out for at least two minutes…no exaggeration.  And even after that lengthy dangle finally played out, she proceeded to wrap up the cigarette with a couple of no-purpose dangles that were also tantalizing to witness from such a young girl, particularly in the company of her nonsmoking friends who didn’t seem to bat an eyelash at her colorful smoking style.  If you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t mind tattoos all over a girl’s arms and legs, this may well have been your favorite sighting of the day.

While we’re on the subject of midway sightings and girls of color, one of the most depressing observations Saturday was that the ascendant racial and ethnic demographic groups seem to have no interest whatsoever in smoking, particularly the younger generation.  All of my other fair sightings venues are 80% white or more, so I’ve never gotten much in the way of personal insights in the modern smoking behavior of women of color….until the Indiana State Fair.  After dark, African Americans made up at least two-thirds of fairgoers, but in the entire day I only saw one black female under 30 smoking (Sighting #36), and she wasn’t all that attractive.  The rest of the black smokers I saw were either male or over 45.  It’s hard to appreciate that two generations ago, smoking rates were higher among blacks than whites.  Cigarette consumption began falling off a cliff among young blacks about 25 years ago and there’s little sign of it reversing.  On my shuttle bus ride home, there were four very attractive and nicely dressed late teen black girls sitting behind me.  It would have done a lot to salvage the night if they had lit up after getting off the bus.  Of course, they didn’t.

In the last couple hours of the night, I managed a trio of young mother sightings pushing strollers with cigarettes in hand (Sightings #30, 31, and 37).  None were mind-blowingly great but it lent some credence to my theory that smoking would occur at least a little more openly in the evening hours and it was also a relief that some ladies were not giving up nicotine just because they had children.  The only hope for the next generation of smokers is that there are still parents (especially mothers) like these who smoke, and ideally doing so in public enough venues like this one where the children are aware of their mother’s smoking.

Now I said earlier that the evening produced one sighting that was genuinely captivating.  I was on the west side of the grandstand area when I spotted a middle-aged couple where the mother was smoking.  But lingering behind the parents were two 18ish girls, one of them mixed race and the friend of the “other girl”, a knockout blond in a white bare-midriff tanktop and high-riding jean shorts that sculpted her perfect, tanned body.  And best of all, she was the first stunning beauty I’d seen all day smoking a cigarette.  Sighting #32 was obviously the daughter of the smoking middle-aged lady, and for a snapshot in time I was glad I made the long drive to the Indiana State Fair and got the chance to witness this.  They stood around a table, indicating somebody had just finished eating some fair food, and I was able to lurk with a clear vantage point to watch two generations of females smoke….and do so in the presence of a nonsmoking husband/father as well as a nonsmoking teen friend.  The sighting remained sedentary for about a minute before the group started walking eastward.  I followed and readied my camera for a long shot pic.  It was well after dark by now so it wasn’t gonna turn out great, but I did about as well as could be expected capturing a side shot of this sexpot with cigarette in hand.  Unfortunately, her beautiful face was blurred out by a street light.  I put my camera away and just followed to enjoy the show, confused why this smoking daughter was walking about 10 yards in front of the rest of her group.  It made my job of following her more dangerous and it seemed like strange behavior generally.  She ended up walking parallel to this black guy about her age and at first it just seemed like they were walking separately next to each other, which was fantastic since she was persistently dragging from her cigarette and exposing him to her secondhand smoke.  But after a longer stretch of walking, it began to become clear they were together, either as a couple or as friends.  I continued to follow and watch every delicious drag this platinum blond angel took, expelling her filth into the forbidden air of the Indiana State Fairgrounds without a care about potential consequences.   My last priority was IDing her butt when she finished it, but the sighting blew up on that front at the last second.  The girl and the black guy turned around at the tail end of her cigarette and at first I thought they were wise to me following them since they were eyeballing me…so I just walked on past as discreetly as I could, but then realizing they were looking back to the family behind them as if wondering what the hold-up was.  The blond handed the cigarette to the black guy for a final drag and the cigarette disappeared out of their hands amidst the crowd.  I walked over but was unable to identify it.  Nonetheless, it was a small setback to the most exciting sighting of the day and one of the only truly beautiful teen girls I’ve seen smoking in 2017.

I’d catch this family again only about 20 minutes later when walking through the midway.  The blond and the mixed-race female friend were standing in line for a carnival ride.  I made a couple of passes near them to get a close look at that stunning face and killer body that matched, wondering how many other girls of her pedigree in Indiana were smokers….and my conclusion was that it probably wasn’t many.  The dynamic I described above seeing the mothers pushing the strollers smoking was applicable in this sighting, as the daughter’s smoking was likely enabled in some way by her mother’s smoking….and most girls as hot as this one probably don’t have mothers that smoke.  I’m sure glad I ran into one who did though.

The quick burst of momentum followed as I came upon a duo of early-t0-mid 20s gals standing near the curb on the grounds.  One of them was beautiful, a long-haired dark blond whose hot body was draped in a white tanktop and jean shorts while she smoked a cigarette.  A bench was open with a clear vantage point and I sat down to watch what I hoped would be a great show of Sighting #33.  And she delivered with a couple of nice drags before the mixed blessing of what happened next.  She handed the cigarette to the lighter blond friend, who was less attractive and chubbier, but still easily good enough to count as Sighting #34.  As I watched the cigarette get passed on, the sighting lost a little of its magic for me since the previous owner was hotter, but on the other hand, it was the first and only time all day I scored a sighting that included more than one smoker girl.  These used to be common and would help crank up the numbers by the end of a fetishing day.  It certainly isn’t helpful for the final count when there’s only one instance where you get a two-for-one sighting.  Anyway, my favorite smoker of this duo would not get the cigarette back, but the sighting stayed interesting anyway as a middle-aged woman approached the duo, clearly the mother of one of the two girls who reeked of fresh tobacco. She was talking to them casually for a couple of moments before they began to walk away, the chubbier blond dropping the cigarette to the pavement and crushing it out.  I was able to approach the butt and identify it as a Newport Red.

Now I had mentioned earlier in the writeup that I hadn’t seen the last of the corn dog stand girl.  In fact, my timing with her during those evening hours was even more perfect as I came upon her smoking three separate times after dark, all within a couple hours of each other.  By now, she had traded in the folding chair she sat on to smoke her daytime cigarettes for some cardboard box.  I took one additional blurry nighttime pic that didn’t turn out, but mostly just stood to the side and watched, the dark sky and backlighting making her 45-degree downward angle exhales all the more visible.  At one point, some nonsmoking fairgoer asked her directions to something while she was in mid-cigarette, possibly being mindful that the girl was breaking the fairgrounds smoking rule at her location.  Her third cigarette of the day ended up getting stubbed out against the corn dog stand itself, and I got off on the idea of her defiling her employer’s property by using it as an ashtray….on top of the questionable frequency and location of her smoke breaks.  She wasn’t the prettiest girl of the day, but she was the most prolific and a beacon of smoking security in a day that offered little of that.  When factoring in that I likely missed quite a few daytime smoke breaks from her, it was clear she was a pretty heavy smoker, and if she works that corn dog booth in that kind of heat for more than two weeks, it must be horribly oppressive and qualify those smoke breaks as the highlight of her very long workdays.

My final new sighting of the night would start great but quickly become annoying and unsatisfying.  A group of two young couples in their mid-20s was walking out of the midway with a modestly attractive dark brunette holding a Black ‘N’ Mild cigar in her hand.  I followed and quickly noted that an entire pack of Black ‘N’ Milds was sticking out of the back jean pocket of Sighting #39.  As for why this sighting was annoying, the cigar was clearly smoldering but not once did she drag from it.  Instead, she and her boyfriend were both obnoxiously dribbling basketballs as they proceeded down the fairgrounds, behaving like you’d expect eight-year-olds would if they had just won these basketballs as prizes on the carnival.  On top of the needless noise pollution, there was the constant nervousness following them that they’d lose the ball and it would bounce or roll into me, which is less desirable than usual when you’re fetishing someone.  So why was I even bothering?  Because the other female in the group was this incredibly wholesome blond in white shorts…and the possibility that she might get her hands on a cigar was too delicious to walk away from.  I stuck close to them for a few minutes and took a bench near the food stand where one of the guys was picking something up.  After they all sat down and started eating I decided to cut my losses.

It was right around 11:00 and I had a very, very long walk back to my shuttle bus on sore feet, walking past my corn dog stand girl as she smoked her fifth cigarette of the night along the way.  The shuttle bus reportedly continued taking fairgoers back to the mall until 11:45, but I didn’t want to risk it being in a strange city and not knowing where I was or who to call if I somehow missed the bus.  The north side of the grounds near the shuttle bus pick up was eerily empty for the longest stretch on that walk, almost in a postapocalyptic way.  I finally arrived at the bus and boarded, conveniently taken back to my car where my long day would end.  It can’t be denied that this day had its attractions.  I certainly hit above the weight of my overall numbers count with some impressive extra-base hits….but I nonetheless walked away from the day royally pissed off having scored only 39 sightings in more than 12 hours….averaging just a little more than three sightings an hour.  Let’s say 50% of the problem was the grounds itself, both the inaccessible designated smoking areas and the limitations on alcohol sales which kept favorable demographics away.  Indeed, I looked it up the next time I had internet access two days later and discovered the Indiana State Fair has had these designated smoking areas going back to 2008!  That’s five years before the Minnesota State Fair got them.  And beyond that, the fair was apparently totally dry until 2014 but even now has some strenuous limits on alcohol consumption at the fair.  There is clearly a puritanical mindset guiding the board members of this fair that dates back to its origins and has likely fomented an understood culture that this fair is not amenable to a party crowd.

With all of that said, I still should have gotten more than 39 sightings in 12+ hours with the demographics of Indiana.  At various points in the day, I could have probably gotten more sightings at just about any venue open to the public in the state of Indiana than I was getting at that fair.  Hell, if I had stayed at the mall with the shuttle bus access all day, I’d have probably been able to rival my disappointing overall numbers.  And despite some good finds that kept the day from being a complete trainwreck, I walked away with a very negative impression of the Indiana State Fair and will never be going back.  This was always gonna be a one-time or at most a rare venue for me.  It’s an eight-hour drive from Des Moines to Indianapolis, meaning any visit there would require two nights on the road, which is more than can be justified outside of the “already there vacationing” context of this year.  The smoker-unfriendly nature of the venue made the decision that much easier for me though.  Next year I will be returning to the Missouri State Fair and in 2019, I’ll be doing a second full Saturday at the Iowa State Fair.  As for the rest of this year, I have two weekends left at the Minnesota State Fair, and the forecast for both days this weekend is a rainy nightmare.  I’m well behind on my sightings count thus far and see little chance of reversing that.  Last year through the first three weeks I was at 366 sightings.  This year, only 307, a decline of 16%.  The contrast for Missouri vs. Indiana accounts for much of that though.




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