How I survived the Indiana State Fair

BSU @ The Fair is a class of 30-ish journalism students who create and provide content for professional media outlets for free – just as long as they give us a byline. I am one of those crazy students who signed up for this, even though I have already graduated college. We have two professors Ryan Sparrow – who runs the photo, video/broadcast, and graphics teams – and Colleen Steffan – who oversees the writing and public relations teams.

Ryan Sparrow found out that I was able to take summer classes after I had already graduated from college to do a continuing studies course – which allowed me to take another unpaid internship just for the experience. When this was discovered, he asked if I wanted to do this class. I decided to be crazy and agree to take this class. 

Now what does this fair experience entail? Well, a lot. We are forced into a small trailer with prison bars over the windows and are expected to wander around the fair grounds and to come back with content. We then turn it around to professional media outlets that will publish the work for FREE. That is just the basic definition. This team includes writers, photographers, public relations, videographers, graphic designers and web designers to work together to create all of the magic. We can spend a fair amount of time together - haha. Two students even ended up spending the night to see what the fair grounds became once the gates closed. 

The Indiana State Fair happens to be 17 days straight. I actually started a day early because I went to scope out the grounds before it all started. And I took the last three days off to go back up to Ball State to surprise my friends before starting off in the real world and another day off to have a new staff orientation meeting for my new job. So in total I worked at the state fair for 14 long days. Which most of those days I spent at least 15 hours there. 

I do get questioned on why I decided to put myself through this, especially when I did not take a job in journalism after I graduated with my degree in that field. And on top of that, for free. So here is my answer, because I will never get an opportunity like this again in my lifetime. Sure it was time I could have been working, or starting my job earlier, but when am I ever going to get this chance again? 

Now that my time is over, I can say it was truly worth it. I have noticed with the Immersive Learning classes that require you to be with strangers or classmates you might not have ever talked to, those people become your family. (But really, we called our professors Mom and Dad). 

I survived through this because we became that family. On the first day, Ryan named me his second in command with the photo team. This gave me a new perspective when it came to photo editing. Not only would I have to critique my own work, but others as well. I would have to help lead a team. I was petrified. However, the group of women I got to work with (yes, all of the photogs were women) made it so much easier. I couldn't thank them enough for making it a lot easier on me. I survived because you all helped me grow as a person, a photographer, and a photo editor.

I survived because fair food. Enough said.

I survived because of family fun time. Family fun time is a time when we were forced out of the trailer and had to do something fair related. The first day was being forced to eat pineapple whips for breakfast, which I did not mind one bit. We also were able to see the rodeo, jousting, pet goats, pet a miniature donkey, and all sorts of things. 

I survived because I cared. This class would not affect me in the slightest bit when it came to my GPA or graduation. I pretty much took this class just because I love the fair. However, I did not carry that mentality at all. I still care to push myself and create content that is amazing. I cared enough to produce quality photos for the media outlets we were partnered with. 

If I were given the chance to do it all over again I wouldn't change a thing because these people made it worth it. Thank you to all of the wonderful people I got to work with. You can see what I worked on by following the link at the bottom of the page. It includes 2 video clips, a portrait series, a photo essay, and just some general clips that were taken of the everyday fair life. 

Until next time,
Kaytee Lorentzen

P.S. Check out some behind the scenes photo's of things we went through below.