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Sidebars: Lunch at Pioneer Village most fulfilling, leisurely

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Remember folks, the premise behind this article is not merely to make eatery suggestions, it is also to encourage a bit of leisure over the lunch hour with your colleague, mentor/mentee, opposing counsel, or a friend. To break from our billing, our motions, our conference calls, and most importantly, our PDAs for lunch will not cause the judicial system, in whatever capacity you work, to come to a screeching halt.

I was reminded of that when I ate the most of leisurely, entertaining, and fulfilling lunch at the dining table located in Pioneer Village at the State Fair about one week before the fair’s opening. Just hear me out. I promise I’m not writing about fried Hostess treats or candy bars.

I gained this prestigious invitation from a fellow female lawyer who I have always looked up to and respected. Around a humble table within Pioneer Village, about 15 of us gathered at a long table covered with a checkered tablecloth, a mix and match of flatware and dinner plates (not plastic utensils, not paper plates), and ice-cold lemonade. At the table were some of Indy’s “big hitters,” but the important people were the gentlemen, the agricultural professionals – from farmers to Purdue professors – who dedicated so much time to the preservation, presentation, and production of Pioneer Village.

Pioneer Village tremendously displays our state’s agricultural history and the extensive collection of artifacts is that of Purdue University Agricultural Alumni and is among the best in the nation.

The fair was about one week away and a lot of work was still to be done to prep Pioneer Village for this year’s fair. Yet, every day at noon, the dinner bell rings. They gather, often with guests like us, they bow their heads in prayer, and then enjoy the fellowship of the meal for about an hour. They regaled us with stories of particular pieces in the museum, of life on the farms across the state, and of their long history with each other (the ages of our hosts ranged but went up to 88!) Their sophistication was evident in the knowledge they imparted about the agricultural business, then and now. I listened, learned, and laughed. And, crazily enough, I didn’t catch a one of them pulling out their Blackberry from their overalls to check their e-mail!

Of course, when the family-style meal came out, I almost broke into tears given the menu. Cold cucumber and onion salad followed by fried potatoes, big ol’ biscuits and sausage links that were passed around family style. Then my heart skipped a beat as they brought out the biggest bowl of sausage gravy I’d seen in my life! The meal was clearly homemade in the kitchen behind this dining area right inside the Pioneer Village building. The hearty meal only added to the warmth I felt from the setting and my dining companions. The homemade cherry pie completed me. When you stop by the State Fair, check out Pioneer Village and you will see the dining area about which I write and at noon, you will see many of these folks gather around for such a lunch as I have described.

Now, why do I tell you about this experience? Well, it reminded me of why Fred and I write this article. Taking time out of our busy day to stop for lunch and focus on something other than a legal crisis is therapeutic and refreshing. Your e-mail can wait for an hour. The calls can be held for an hour. Believe it or not, that motion, pleading, answer, or whatever it is can wait for an hour. So, go grab a bite with that person, you know the one, you have been promising to hook up for lunch for the last six months. Remember that friend you keep telling yourself you need to call because you know they need someone to confide in, vent to, or share with.

To encourage you, I’m closing with some of Fred’s and my favorite places we have written about over the last couple of years to give you a nudge: Richard’s (Johnson County); Matteo’s (Hamilton County); Shipley’s (Madison County); Carnagie’s (Hancock County); Triple XXX (Tippecanoe County); Country Kitchen (Indy); Vera Mae’s (Delaware County); R Bistro (Indy); Lisa’s Pie Shop (Tipton County); Siam Square (Indy); Bu Dah (Indy); and The Downtown (Warsaw).•

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Fred Vaiana and Jennifer M. Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn Paul Hogan & Merriman in Indianapolis, focusing in criminal defense. Vaiana is a 1992 graduate of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Lukemeyer earned her J.D. from Southern Methodist University in 1994 and is active in the Indianapolis Bar Association, Indianapolis Inn of Courts, and the Teen Court Program. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors.

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