Giant Slide is a multi-generational favorite at the
Iowa State Fair on August 11, 2016.
Iowa State Fair, which runs through Sunday, was described
to me as "our Disneyland. Well, not really … but it
is". It's something people look forward to every
year, and it's easy to see why.
had never been, and if you, like me, don't live in Iowa, I
suggest you make the pilgrimage at least once in your
lifetime. You may have a state fair where you live, and I
do as well. But this is different. It's ... well, it's the
Disneyland of state fairs, if you would.
largest state fair in America, there was more to see, do
and eat then one was able to take in during a single day.
It was a feast for the senses, with something new around
every corner, and more tucked away in corners and in
buildings and down the side over there. An explosion of
few times, I thought we had seen "all the
things," but a local would point out a spot we had
missed. We very nearly didn't see the agricultural
showcase, where people showcased their best flowers,
centerpieces, small bushes, etc. and submitted them for
judging. Who would want to miss the blue-ribbon gladiola?
Not to mention this year's butter sculptures, such as the
Star Trek Enterprise as well as the essential butter cow.
Yes, really. These sculptures were made entirely of
butter, and people would line up to see them in their
refrigerated enclosures through window panes. They never
would make it in room temperatures, where it was nearing
year, there is a butter cow, dating back to 1911. These
butter bovines have a long history, so while I was amused,
there is a lot that goes into their creation. There are
now companion pieces that are sculpted along with the cow
each year, and this year it is Star Trek, which celebrates
it's 50th birthday. Not to be outdone, the butter cow is
celebrating her 105th birthday. Good thing we are in corn
country — what else would you do with 600 pounds of
butter after the fair?
Iowa State Fair is a great place for the whole family —
there is face painting, balloons, and many booths have
free temporary tattoos for the kids. We saw a few children
with very little "real estate" left from their
growing collection. There is one area, known as "the
concourse," that was for carnival rides, games of
chance, and of course a few food and drink booths. Buy
tickets singly, by the bunch, or an all-day wristband that
lets them on unlimited times.
than one person mentioned the "Giant Slide" to
us, and that it was something they looked forward to every
year, or that they had been doing since they were kids and
now do with their own children. It requires it's own
ticket, but seems to be something you "must do"
when at the fair.
one building, local art and artists were showcased. You
could buy items locally made and handcrafted, and some
locally made foods to take home as well.
kids could make several different kinds of crafts,
including decorative mobiles, bracelets, and pottery spun
on wheels or sculpted by hand.
there was the food.
class all on it's own, the fried, greasy goodness that is
fair food was available in an abundance I can't
could get everything your heart desired — as long as
your heart desired fried foods. From classics such as
funnel cakes and corn dogs, to the more healthy (ish)
fried pineapple or pickle dawgs, if it can be fried, it
can be found at the Iowa State Fair.
fair favorites include cheese curds — nothing fancy, but
how do you go wrong with fried cheese? Cheese curds are
the solid parts of sour milk, sometimes called
"squeaky cheese," and are quite popular in the
Midwest. Also, the aforementioned "pickle dawgs"
are, in my opinion, a must try. A pickle is wrapped in
either pastrami or ham and smothered in cream cheese, then
deep fried. Sounds strange? Definitely. But it's also
on a stick is king at the fair, and so are pork products.
Of the highest nobility, then, are the bacon-wrapped ribs
and bacon-wrapped pork chops.
son devoured them with gusto, regardless of the fact that
we had just been to the petting zoo and the agricultural
center, where we learned about the life cycle of pigs and
other animals, and saw 10-hour old piglets nursing their
mother. Iowans explain this phenomenon as understanding
where your food comes from, and how hard it is to get them
from farm to table. It's gaining an appreciation for your
meals and the people who bring them to you. It's learning
to be grateful. My son declared them his favorite food
ever. How much was an Iowa lesson learned, and how much
was the meat on a stick, is open to interpretation.
dessert, there are endless ice cream stands, and with the
summer heat being no joke right now, you will want to make
use of one or two of those. But if you've never had fried
oreos or fried candy bars, try them. We are going to
recommend the fried Snickers bars, which are (honestly)
battered and deep fried, then have powdered sugar dusted
on them before they are delivered to you via paper boat.
The 9-year-old was in sugar Heaven. He wanted another, but
even I'm only so indulgent.
time is a good time to visit Iowa, but if you haven't made
plans yet, you might want to plan around the state fair