The Indiana Association of Fairs (INAF) staged their 97h annual convention Friday, January 6 through Sunday, January 8, 2017 at the Indianapolis Marriott East Conference Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. INAF President Mike Cuskaden from Greensburg (Decatur County 4-H Fair) presided over the activities. Membership at the time of the meeting consisted of 60 Fairs, 10 Festivals and 132 Associates. Over the 3 days of the convention, 1,225 fair/festival representatives and 425 associate members were in attendance. For the second year the Indiana State Festivals Association participated in the meeting.
Eighty one vendors had booths in the conference center’s Liberty Hall for the Trade Fair, with another 20 or so associate members hosting hospitality rooms. The conference center sold out of the hospitality suites.
Starting Friday afternoon and throughout the day on Saturday, attendees had 36 educational sessions to choose. Many great ideas were shared and brought to the table during these educational sessions.
Randy & Tracy Reichert with Meggers Road Concessions (Hot Wisconsin Cheese) were recognized as the Associate of the Year. Associate Ron E. Smith with R. E. Smith Concessions was recognized for his service on the INAF Board of Directors. Don Kenna with Kenna Concessions was selected to join the INAF Board of Directors for a four-year term.
Attendees attended a luncheon on Saturday with presentation of the Variety Attractions Hall of Fame recognition. The 2017 recipients were:
District I – Tom Lump (Lake County)
District II – Kelly Ropp (Elkhart County)
District III – Kim Roberts (Johnson County)
District IV – Henry Schlensker (Vanderburgh County)
On Friday and Saturday nights, the convention staged entertainment showcases. Entertainment acts that performed were: Jess Kellie Adams (Jessica Kenney Music), The Indigos, Brandt Carmichael,
Martin Family Circus (Variety Attractions), SaraBeth (Northrup Entertainment), Cody Ikerd and the Sidewinders, Joe Hess & the Wandering Cowboys (CMS Entertainment), The Rope Warrior (David Fisher), Karli Edging (International Entertainment Bureau) and Meraki The Band.
The convention came to a close on Sunday morning with a brunch. Steve Zeller father of three NBA Basketball players was the keynote speaker at the meeting with a presentation on “Embracing Change”. Twenty two fairs were represented at the business session. David Smith of Monroe County was installed as President; Jerry Hammon of Allen County as President Elect and King Clark, Newton County as Vice-President. Kim Roberts of Johnson County was elected Treasurer for a three year term. Tom Lump of Lake County was elected District 1 Director.
Academy of Fair / Festival Leaders recognized for individuals for their completion of the minimum courses for the recognition. The recipients of the awards were: Jennifer Prough, MaryAnn Leinhart-Cross, Rich Utley, Charles Woodruff, Gary Mithoeffer, Preston Gwin, Jack Gaby, Linda Leighty, Randi Webber, Kevin Stewart, and Roger Sherer
Winners of the Communication Awards sponsored by Max Fitzpatrick in memory of Glen Slabach were recognized based on their entries in scrapbooks, media relations, memorabilia, advertising and photos.
AA: Marshall County Blueberry Festival
AAA: Hendricks County
AAAA: Elkhart County Fair
Attendees also had opportunities throughout the convention to bid on numerous silent auction items. The silent auction raised $2,486, with $1,000 being donated to the Indiana 4-H Foundation and the balance of the funds going to the INAF to assist in operating costs.
The 98th INAF Convention will be held January 5-7, 2018 at the Indianapolis Marriott East Conference Center.