Top 10 Reasons To Love the Iowa State Fair

By Carol / August 31, 2015 /

Our state fair is a great fair, acclaimed in book, movies, and song. As a 4-H member I yearned to go. Alas, that desire was unfulfilled. Now that I live within four miles of the main gate, though, I never miss the annual extravaganza.

With a nod to David Letterman and the Late Show, and before August slips away, I must share my Top 10 Reasons to Love The Iowa State Fair.

Drumroll please …

Iowa State Fair Goat

Keeping an eye on passers by.

10. Inquisitive goats. And pigs and horses and cows. I love livestock.

9. Joining a queue for no reason other than the possibility of free stuff. Our line led to Mixify – an initiative to help educate teens about the importance of balancing calorie intake with activity. I explained how I keep moving and walked away with a t-shirt and a frisbee.

8. Cattle Judging. Watching little kids manhandle a 1,000 pound steer around the arena is a hoot. “Just don’t let go,” is the advice one kid gave the new Drake University President Marty Martin before the celebrity steer show. Good, simple advice; I like that.

Iowa State Fair Giant Pumpkin

The winner weighed in at 1,235 pounds.

7. Giant things – Random things – Butter things – pumpkins, tomatoes, bull, boar – a hot wheels race on the grand concourse – the butter cow, joined this year by a tribute to Monopoly. It’s all good.

6. Food on a Stick – The Ultimate Bacon Brisket Bomb, a bacon-wrapped, ground brisket/jalapeno/cheese-filled concoction earned the public’s favorite new food-on-a-stick award, so of course we tried it. The smoked brisket mac n cheese is better. IMHO.

5. Quilts – The needlework is amazing. My friend Sheryl entered five projects and took ribbons on four. My sister-in-law Anita won a blue ribbon. These are talented folks.

4. Ice Cream. When one massive scoop costs $4 and a second massive scoop costs only $1 more, you can imagine what we chose. Even though that’s more ice cream than I eat in a normal week. And I eat ice cream every day.

Iowa State Fair - Chia Cow

Just the thing for a dairy farmer’s daughter.

3. Peanut Brittle Judging. My first experience at food judging provided 17 entries –  enough to appreciate the range of Iowa candy maker creativity – and satisfy a sweet tooth.

2. A Chia Cow. I want one.

1. I avoided every single presidential candidate. Given the number of candidates and the fact that every one of them wants to see the butter cow and flip a pork chop and hold forth from a hay bale, that’s no small feat.

There you have it my friends – The Iowa State Fair. I can’t wait for next year.

What are your favorite things to do at the fair?

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  1. Shirley Hershey Showalter on August 31, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Your list describes my visits to the PA Farm Show and the various fairs in Ephrata, New Holland, etc. I attended.

    However, you didn’t say anything at all about looking for cute boys (old terminology) or hot guys. 🙂

    Hate to admit it, but it was a preoccupation at a certain age.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on August 31, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      Well there you go, Shirley. Perhaps I was showing my age. Or it could be the fact that I had my hot guy with me. I’m going with the later.

  2. Karen Rawson on September 1, 2015 at 4:51 am

    What a great article!

    Alas, I missed my pilgrimage to the fair this year. But when I go, my favorite is taking the chairlift to get a birds’ eye view of the 200-year-old sycamores. That, and people-watching.while keeping a tally of all the food one can sample on a stick. (And even with all the food-stick innovation, nothing compares with a turkey leg and a peach shake!)

    • Carol Bodensteiner on September 1, 2015 at 8:28 am

      You have struck on a couple of things I haven’t tried, Karen – the Sky Glider and a peach shake. They are now on my list. As far as the turkey leg? Though the State Fair is known for it’s really big items, some are just too big for me, and that turkey leg is one. Maybe if I get my Neanderthal on …?

  3. Athanasia on September 1, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    We do the County Fair only, State Fair is about 2 1/2 hours away and it’s just too big.

    10. I like to look at the “fancy chickens” …some are pretty spectacular
    9, The exhibition building is full of booths to sign up for free stuff, pick up free stuff, find all about
    stuff you did not even know existed.
    8. Never watched the animal judging, but do watch the 4H fashion show.
    7. Random things…we usually avoid the midway now. My sister and I did venture on as teens, but
    had the dire warning of our mother…”be it on you should your dress fly away from you”. We had
    to make sure everything was pinned on and tucked in securely.
    6. My favorite food on a stick is fresh out of the kettle , cotton candy. It’s just so nostalgic and
    I get it every year.
    5. Quilts. Always.
    4. We get our ice cream scoops at the 4H booth.
    3. Have never judged, but do enjoy watching a bit of judging in foods and clothing.
    2. I want covered rain gutters, as seen at a booth. The leaves are already starting
    to fall here.
    1. No presidential candidate comes to our fair, but we see all the local politicians,
    campaigning or just taking the family out.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on September 1, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      Great list, Athanasia. We had no feathered exhibits of any sort at any Iowa fair – county or state – because of the bird flu epidemic that did major damage to our chicken and turkey industry this year. This was sad for many exhibitors, but it created a particular problem for a magician in the youth talent competition who could not use his pigeons.

      I agree that the varied industries building (our exhibition hall) is a great place to get free stuff and learn about things you never thought about needing. The rain gutter covers are calling to us, too.

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