August 4, 2004
Iowa State Fair – Blue Ribbon in FunAthens, Greece - eat your heart out! This August 12 -22, the place to be is Des Moines, where the 150th Annual Iowa State Fair will offer what USA Weekend magazine rates as No. 2 on the Top 10 list of “Places America Goes to Have Fun” (only Las Vegas rated higher). Here is a sampling of my favorite things to do each year at the Fair:
* When I get hungry, I head to the Iowa Pork Producers Association grill, where I order a pork chop on a stick. Last year a record 60,000 of these treats were sold. There’s nothing better – and it’s a great way to support your local pork producer.
* The world famous butter cow has been a regular at the Fair since 1960. This life-sized cow is usually accompanied by another butter sculpture, including past representations of Garth Brooks, Elvis Presley, and Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.”
* The Iowa Department of Natural Resources showcases fish and animals native to Iowa. This exhibit includes daily demonstrations.
* Debuting in 1921, Ye Olde Mill is the Iowa State Fair version of the “Tunnel of Love.”
* The KRNT cow chip throwing contest will take place on August 18th this year. The contest starts at 11:00 in Pioneer Hall.
* Each year the Bill Riley Talent Search invites aspiring entertainers to present a three-minute talent routine. On the closing day of the Fair, there will be a fanfare of talent as former champions going back 43 years come together in a reunion.
* The newly air-conditioned 4-H Exhibits Building will feature 1,500 young people from across the state delivering extemporaneous speeches and educational presentations. In addition to working exhibits, there will be hands-on activities for people of all ages.
* Another perennial favorite is the Future Farmers of America Display Building and Headquarters. Inside you will find working displays, photography and chapter exhibits, as well as agricultural demonstrations. Don’t miss the FFA/Open Ag-Mechanics Technology Show featuring restored tractors.
* Finally, don’t forget to see the Big Boar in the swine barn and the Super Bull in the cattle barn. Last year’s Big Boar weighed 1,118 pounds, Super Bull weighed in at 3,280 pounds. Both large-animal contests will crown a winner on the opening day of the Fair.
So mark your calendars, and I hope to see you at Iowa’s greatest tradition, the Iowa State Fair!