My first Iowa State Fair trip

As a proud Iowan who had never been to the famed Iowa State Fair, I made a point to change that this year. I went home two weeks ago, with not many plans except for one: To check out my state’s annual fair. The fair is not only a big deal in Iowa, it’s a big deal as far as state fairs go. And I had no idea what to expect. So I went with Bill and my mom, also first-timers, to the first day of the fair. The weather was perfect, sunny and upper 70s with a slight breeze.

When I got back home in South Florida, my coworkers and friends had a lot of questions about the fair that had occupied the news while I was away. I will try and answer a few questions of my experiences and observations at my first Iowa State Fair.

Did you see Michele Bachmann?

No, she was supposed to be there that day, but changed to Friday, the day after the debate in Ames and the day before the Straw Poll. Instead, I saw Mitt Romney with Sen. Chuck Grassley. I first noticed a group of people around an American flag and, upon further review, saw Grassley and media, then Romney shaking everyone’s hand.

Oh, there is Mitt Romney shaking hands with people.

And a closer view with Sen. Grassley. They were looking at a baby.

Later in the day we saw the CNN election express bus, or whatever they call it.

Did you try fried butter on a stick?

No, that doesn’t even sound good! Pass! Although i try and eat healthy, I am at the fair after all. I saw a stand selling the Gigantor, a one-pound hamburger served between two grilled cheese sandwiches. Again, passed.

Gigantor? No thanks!

My lunch: Tofu corn dog and fried cheese curds. A fair basic.

I saw a salad on a stick (What won’t they put on a stick?) but felt I could go a little more unhealthy than that, so I ended up with a tofu corn dog and fried cheese curds. That is about my speed. Bill tried red velvet funnel cake and my mom had fried pickles. No complaints, no regrets.

Did you see the butter cow?

Butter cow!

Yes. You can’t go to the fair and not see it. If you aren’t familiar, the butter cow is exactly what it sounds like. And this is the 100th year of the butter cow. It was awesome and had such detail in its ribs and hair. Cool to have finally seen it!

What else is there?

Awwww, sheep


So many kinds of produce, I was speechless!

A lot! We were there for six hours, and we didn’t see it all. We saw all kinds of animals big and small, in all stages of grooming. We saw two HUGE pigs and a massive sheep, but didn’t come across the big steer. We saw birds and rabbits, and horses of all different sizes. We saw lots of hot-tub vendors and more types of corn than I knew were available. The Clydesdales were there; it’s always a treat to see these large, beautiful horses. We saw some amazing art displays as well.

We went to the Iowa Craft Beer Tent. In its first year at the state fair, the Iowa Craft Beer Tent had 36 taps, with 30 devoted to Iowa beers and the other six for Midwest beers. We decided on a sampler and, in all, each tried a few ounces of six beers, which was just the right amount to get a taste on a hot day. Because I was busy sampling the great beers, I didn’t take any pictures, but luckily there are a lot on their facebook page, to get a sense of the fun at the beer tent.

Did you go on any rides?

No, I didn’t care to for time/money/dizziness reasons. But we did take a ride on the skyride, which gave us a nice view of the fair and downtown Des Moines, and gave our feet a rest.

Skyride with a few of the fair and downtown Des Moines

All in all, I’m very glad I went. I had a great time and am a proud Iowan.

Have you been to the Iowa State Fair? I would love to hear other people’s stories. People seem to either go every year, once when they were young, or never.

6 thoughts on “My first Iowa State Fair trip

  1. Pingback: Friday links | Words from a visual journalist

  2. I grew up 7 streets from the fair. I went constantly, including working there three summers. It’s a high school reunion for me. I went last year, my first time in 9 years (after going numerous times, if not daily, my entire life!)! Sadly, I missed it this year, but hopefully next year.

    • That’s cool that you worked there! I just put my foot down and said “this is the year to go finally” and was glad I did! Sounds like a lot of people from near Des Moines have gone often. It made my husband say he wants to check out his state’s fair for the first time.

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