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Lard Art, Anyone?

August 13, 2010

Ah, it is State Fair time in Indiana and we all have our favorite activities. Most of mine involve the various food booths. I recently saw some unique images of a different kind of food? booth from fairs in the years past the Lard Art exhibit. Yes, instead of deep-frying it, Hoosiers used to create these wonderful displays of lard. Sculptures ranging from dancing pigs (below, 1941) to political figures (below, 1940) were created from lard and displayed at the fair.

Lard presidents

These images are from the J.C. Allen and Son Collection, a recently processed collection that contains thousands of images documenting the Indiana State Fair from 1926 to 1951. Dorothy Nicholson, visual collections archivist, has been selecting a number of items from each year to include in our Digital Image Collection.

In addition to the wonderful images of lard art, there are pictures of prize-winning show animals, band day competitions, the midway, and all the other things that makes the Indiana State Fair so special. So, enjoy the State Fair and enjoy these images from state fairs in the past. And next time you open that jar of shortening don?t just think Fry Daddy, think artwork!


Suzanne Hahn is director of reference services for the IHS Collections and Library. She loves helping people find the information they seek and is perhaps the only librarian ever to get shushed for laughing too loud in a library.

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