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View of Pepsi Coliseum at the Indiana State Fair Grounds

Indiana State Fairgrounds

Written by Julie Greiner
When visiting Indianapolis - one should not overlook the Indiana State Fairgrounds as a source of many major events throughout the year including hockey. The Indiana State Fair Grounds have been located just a few minutes from the downtown metro area of Indianapolis on East 38th Street since 1892. The Indiana State Fair has a long, rich history. It has grown and changed as society has evolved and it is still unrivaled as Indiana's grandest multi-day event. Livestock has been displayed at the Fair since 1915 when market hogs were first shown. It has since grown to include horses, sheep,
cattle, chickens, swine and much more. The livestock nursery was created to help educate Fairgoers with facts about livestock. Farmers Day brings many Hoosier families together for a fun-filled day highlighted by a Parade of Tractors, the Antique Tractor Olympics and more. "Little Hands on the Farm" is one of the newest attractions at the Fair. It gives children an opportunity to have hands-on experience with agriculture. The Seyfert's Home & Family Arts Building houses thousands of items that vary from artwork, clothing and crafts.

The Pepsi Coliseum

The Coliseum was built in 1939 and has played hostView of the Hulman Hundred Race at the Indiana State Fair Grounds to some very significant events over the years. Today it is the home for the Indianapolis Ice of the Central Hockey League. In fact, the first event when it was built was to a sell-out crowd watching the first pro hockey game in Indianapolis. It has always been the "ice rink" in Indianapolis and served as the practice home of the teams that played in Market Square Arena. The Coliseum has hosted some major events... Sonja Henie ice shows in the early 1940s, the IHSAA state basketball finals in the war years of 1944-45, early Billy Graham crusades in
the 1950s, concerts by the Beatles and the Supremes in the 1960s, campaign speech by John F. Kennedy and a Grateful Dead concert in the 1970s.

Halloween 1963

One harrowing night on Halloween 1963, a propane tank under the bleachers exploded during an Ice Follies show. Over 60 people were killed and many injured. The CHL Capitols moved to Cincinnati. The Coliseum was without a hockey team for the next 20 years. The arena received a minor facelift in 1988 and a huge $1 million one ten years later when the Ice returned. 1,500 seats were replacedView of the Midway at the Indiana State Fair Grounds and work on the roof began in 1998. By the next season, nearly all of the old wooden seats had been replaced by ones resurrected from the RCA Dome. Signage in the concourses was changed and several new banners were erected. In 1989, two new scoreboards were put in, replacing the ones that had been built in the 1960s. A new air-handling system should be in place for the 2000-01 season.

Annual Hoosier Horse Fair and Expo

The Hoosier Horse Fair & Expo is the largest all-breed state exhibition in the country. The North American All-Star Six-Horse Hitch Classic featured over a dozen hitches from aroundA Horse Decked Out for Christmas at the Indiana State Fair Grounds the U.S. and Canada. Other popular attractions include breed and farrier, demonstrations, Kids' Corral, Parade of Stallions, High School Rodeo, 4-H competitions, and Celebrity Cutting. For more information visit:

Hulman Hundred - Dirt Car Racing

The Hulman Hundred was started in 1981 as a new accompaniment to the traditional month of May. The Fairgrounds has been the site of many a fine dual among the nation's top drivers. Another high-flying event that has gained popularity over the past 25 years is the Giant Hot Air Balloon Race. The first race took place in 1975 and the winner, Denis Weiderkehr, piloted a balloon sponsored by Sprite. Between 20 and 30 balloons participate in the Giant Hot Air Balloon Race annually.
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Last Updated: September 23, 2015