Fair, Food & A New Friend

The Iowa State Fairis full of the familiar. But it’s the surprises I look forward to. My husband and I made our annual Fair trip yesterday, taking in the usual: new farm equipment, the quilt exhibit (that’s my sister-in-law Anita’s quilt in the picture), giant pumpkins, and the butter cow. We never miss them.

But the most memorable moment came when we joined a young black man on a bench next to a group of Marines challenging passersby to do pull ups. I settled down to eat my personal Fair Food Favorite – a gyro. I expected to enjoy the gyro; I didn’t know I’d meet such an interesting person at the same time.

Turns out our bench companion was from Uganda. He had arrived in Iowa just four days before, (via Addis Ababa, Brussels and Atlanta). A graduate student who will study horticulture at Iowa State Univ., Denis was having great fun at our Fair.

I learned a lot about Uganda during our visit. Crops his father grew on their farm – food crops such as bananas and mangos; that their tourist season is May – August with weather similar to our summers; that they have several significant mountains, including volcanoes, but they also have beaches. He was quite an ambassador for Uganda and Africa. And he spoke English – something else I couldn’t have said for sure I knew about Uganda.

We joked about meeting next year at noon on the same bench. We forgot to pick a day. But if he shows up, I expect he’ll make another friend. And next year, I’ll be back at the Fair, looking for the familiar and another surprise.

Join the conversation. Your comments or questions welcomed!

*