August 15, 2011

Iowa State Fair 2011

The Iowa State Fair has changed a lot from the days back in the late 40's/early 50's when my Great-grandma Myrtle got up at 3 AM to fry up a chicken or three and packed up a big picnic lunch for herself, her children, and the grandkids, which included my mother. 

For one thing, there may be a few more people.

A crowded day at the fair!

Estimated attendance today was 112,542 people.  I think it was more.  It felt like a LOT more.  By the time we rolled in, around 12:30 PM on a sunny Sunday, all the parking lots on the fairgrounds were full.  That wasn't so bad, because it cost $10 just to park on site.  We found a $5 spot on one of the local resident's lawns, and trekked over to the north gate.  Another $20 got us in.  Our state fair is a great state fair, as the song goes, but it can also be an expensive proposition, so Jeffrey and I only go every 2 or 3 years. 

J. wasn't terribly keen to go this year, so I promised him I'd have my picture taken with a big snake this time, and it sealed the deal.  That might sound crazy, but the last time we were at the fair, there was a very well-kept, if nerve-wracking, display of all kinds of snakes, and at the end of the exhibit, you could get your picture taken with an enormous python.  I declined then, because snakes kind of make me scream. 
File:Ball python lucy.JPG
BUT... I really wanted to go this year, so I had to give Jeffrey some incentive to come along.  Fortunately, I do not have a picture of me and a constricting snake to show you- if there was a snake display this year (Snakes Alive!, where are you?), we managed to miss it.  I was not very sad.

We went looking for food right away.  Jeffrey started with a Greek gyro at a place right across from Bauder's Ice Cream, but I was holding out for the excellent lamb kabobs at the Iowa Sheep Producers Stand.  We shared some really great pizza, too. Neither one of us was interested in deep-fried butter on a stick, a new fair treat this year.

Then we made our way past the sheep barn.  Look at the building entry, isn't it neat?  The tile around the entrance is amazing.  It's kind of hard to tell, but on either side of the "SHEEP BARN" proclamation, the end tiles are three-dimensional sheep heads.

We heard a commotion, and found a lot of exhibitors, like this young lady, tidying up their sheep for competition and showering them clean with curly garden hoses.  The sheep do NOT like their bathtime, and it was a discordant symphony of baaing and bleating!

Next we went to the 4-H building, and my favorite fair drink, Lemonade Shake-ups.  I asked the lemonade lady how much sugar was in each drink, and she told me I wouldn't want to know.  I'm guessing maybe a quarter cup for each glass.  But so good!

It was really a hot day, hotter than the forecast had promised, and so it was a relief to go to the air-conditioned building where quilts, knitting, and other handwork are displayed.
So many little pieces cut out and sewed back together again!

We next tried the Varied Industries building, but it was so crowded, and people were moving along at the approximate speed of drunken snails.  Honestly, what is there to look at there that's so riveting?  Do these people dream of replacement windows, college campus info, and hot tubs/sauna closets all year long?  (Ok, maybe I understand the hot tubs.  But still!).  I had hoped to find a dealer that might have sewing machine tables/cabinets, but we both agreed to exit as quickly as we could.   Fifteen minutes later....

We stopped for ice cold root beer, probably the best value of the day at $2.25 for a big glassful, and went to the Bauder's Ice Cream stand.  I usually get their superb peppermint ice cream sandwiches, but we wanted something smaller and settled on a scoop each of strawberry and peach ice cream.  Easily the best ice cream I've had this year, if you don't count our own Hawaiian Ice Cream. 

Another year, another fair.  This was a fun visit, but next time we go, I think I'll take a day off work and hope that the weather is rainy so that there aren't as many people vying for space.  What are your favorite things to do/ foods to eat at the fair?  Drop us a comment!

Update:  Our sympathies to those involved in the tragedy Saturday at the Indiana State Fair.  Compared to that, slowly shuffling through the Varied Industries building doesn't sound like a bad deal at all.  -Juli

No comments:

Post a Comment