News & Resources for the Indiana Tourism Industry

The People Have Spoken! “Best of Indiana” Winners Revealed

West Side Nut Club, Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial & Nick’s Kitchen clinch #1 Spots

INDIANAPOLIS (November 7, 2017) – Another record setting year of voting and the results are in for Visit Indiana’s Best of Indiana Fall awards. More than 24,000 Hoosiers selected Indiana’s Best Fall Festival, Best Historic Destination, and Best Tenderloin. The winners are:

“Hoosiers really let their voices be heard in these categories. I’m energized to see that people are passionate about their festivals, food, and historic destinations,” said Mark Newman, Indiana Office of Tourism Development’s Executive Director. “All of our nominations were terrific and I encourage everyone to visit one of these fantastic places.”

Best of Indiana – Fall Festival

You better come hungry to this Best of Indiana Fall Festival.  The 2017 choice is the West Side Nut Club Fall Festival in Evansville. This week-long October gala features free entertainment, carnival attractions, a huge parade, and over 136 food booths. The food is the star of the show with exotic choices like alligator stew, chocolate-covered grasshoppers and brain sandwiches. This event attracts over 200,000 people and is considered to be one of the largest street festivals in the United States. The West Side Nut Club formed in 1921 as a group of businessmen. Ever since, they’ve held this annual festival to raise money for charities and non-profits.

Hoosiers voted the state’s largest festival, the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival, number two on the Best of Indiana list. Shopping, food, and 31 covered bridges is what you’ll find, along with scenic rural views.

In third place is Harvest Homecoming located on the beautiful Ohio River in New Albany. What began as a three-day pumpkin festival is now a 50-year-old event that includes the annual crowning of the Harvest Queen, a parade, rides, entertainment at the amphitheater on the river, crafts, and food.

Best of Indiana - Historic Destination

It’s only fitting that Hoosiers chose the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial as Indiana’s Best Historic Destination. Indiana is where Abraham Lincoln spent the formative years of his life before becoming our 16th president. At the memorial in Lincoln City, you can walk in Lincoln’s footsteps on the Trail of Twelve Stones, which begins at the Lincoln Living Historical Farm and ends near Pioneer Cemetery where Lincoln’s mother is buried.  You can also spend time at the Memorial Visitor Center, which features five sculptured panels, marking significant periods in Lincoln’s life.

Voters picked the “Castle on the Hill” as their second favorite historic destination. The Monastery of the Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand was founded in 1867. The red-brick, Romanesque-style building with red-tile roofs is capped by an 87-foot-high dome that can be seen from far and wide. It is home to one of the nation’s largest communities of Benedictine women.

The largest national monument outside of Washington, D.C. is located in Vincennes. Number three on the Best of Indiana Historic Destination list is the George Rogers Clark National Memorial. At the site of the former British Fort Sackville sits a massive granite memorial to Colonel George Rogers Clark. A remarkable leader in the Revolutionary War, the national park commemorates his conquest of the Old Northwest Territory.

Best of Indiana - Tenderloin

Indiana does not have an official state food, but if there was one, it might be the tenderloin sandwich. If you’re a native Hoosier, you know what it is. It’s a piece of pork, pounded and breaded and usually fried. It might be crispy and flat or thick and juicy, but almost all of them are bigger than the bun.

Nick’s Kitchen in Huntington created the original in 1908, and it’s only fitting that Hoosiers voted it Indiana's best tenderloin. At Nick’s, the pork is pounded thin and served on a plain hamburger bun with lettuce, Miracle Whip, and a side of potato or pasta salad. 

Dooley O'Toole's in Hamilton County serves up Hoosiers' second favorite tenderloin. Dooley O’Toole’s is a locally owned and operated Hoosier pub with a hint of Irish fare. Their sandwich comes breaded or grilled on a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and red onion.

The Willard is regarded by residents as one of the best restaurants in Franklin, and its tenderloin placed third on the Best of Indiana list. The Willard’s tenderloin, which won first place in the People’s Choice and the Breaded Tenderloin categories at  this summer’s Tenderloin Throwdown in Greensburg, is made from pork that is farm-raised in Frankfort. It is battered with buttermilk, flour, and spices and grilled.  It's served with a side of pickles.

Nominees for all three categories were recommended by members of Indiana’s travel, tourism and hospitality industry. The public could vote for up to five nominees in each category. VisitIndiana.com/Fall is a companion site to VisitIndiana.com, the official state travel website where discounts, trip ideas and helpful tips are easily accessible.

To see all of our ‘Best Of’ winners through the years, click here

About Indiana Office of Tourism Development
Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch oversees the Indiana Office of Tourism Development. Mark Newman serves as the agency's executive director. IOTD is dedicated to enhancing the economic vitality of Indiana through leadership and resource support to the Indiana travel industry. The tourism and hospitality industry is directly responsible for 155,200 jobs, generates over $1.4 billion in tax receipts and contributes $11.5 billion in revenue to Indiana businesses. For more information: www.VisitIndiana.com.