What is a gal to do after surviving five days of sweltering heat at the Nobles County Fair, followed by a day-long project putting together the special fair supplement for the Daily Globe and then writing a handful of stories to round out the week?
Well, go to the fair again, of course!
Four years after our first visit to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, my mom joined me on a quick trip to the land of corn, soybeans and swine last weekend. We admired more than a hundred quilts, dozens of cross-stitched pieces and a disappointingly small collection of hardanger embroidery.
We walked passed several pork-chop-on-a-stick stands and visited the Iowa butter cow display (they added a Monopoly board, game pieces and Rich Uncle Pennybags — all created from butter — to the display this year in honor of the game’s 80th anniversary.)
I took a picture of Iowa’s largest bull contest winner (Sampson, a red Angus raised near Atlantic, Iowa, weighed in at 2,893 pounds) and snapped a photo of a tomato that resembled a chirping bird. (At the Iowa State Fair, they have a category for vegetables that are, well, a bit unique. There was a trio of potatoes shaped like zoo animals and some rather odd-looking carrots among the display.)
You could ask 100 different people what they enjoy most about the fair and you could get 100 different answers. I could give more than a dozen reasons myself. Whether county or state fair, it doesn’t matter.
I love to see the handcrafted items displayed by 4-H and open class exhibitors. Where else can you see a scale model combine built from Popsicle sticks, admire a yard art metal peacock with plumage made from silverware or smile over a colorful quilt featuring hedgehogs?
The talent and creativity people possess in making something with their own two hands is simply amazing. I am thankful for those who grow the flowers, fruits and vegetables to display at the fair, and I appreciate the young kids willing to lead a 1,000-plus pound beef steer into the show ring. I can’t operate a sewing machine, keep a houseplant alive or get within 10 feet of a large beef animal due to sheer terror, but there are people in this world who can.
The fair is a symbol of Americana — and at the Iowa State Fair that symbol may just be in the guy wearing striped bib overalls or in the teenage girl flaunting pink hair.
I can hardly wait to see what I might discover at the Minnesota State Fair next week!