Iowa State Fair fun

Off the shelf

I screamed at the top of my lungs the entire way down, startling everyone within hearing distance and earning myself a few dirty looks from a group of nearby teens. It was the summer of 2015, and I had just tried out the Iowa State Fair’s Giant Slide. This was significant because in the past my minor fear of heights had prevented me from trying similar activities. I may not have conquered the slide with any sort of dignity, but I did it, and I had fun. I also earned myself a high five from both my younger sister and a nearby six-year-old who was equally impressed by my bravery and the volume of my screeching. That visit – my first ever – to the State Fair was an absolute pleasure, and a true learning experience. As I am not a native Iowan, so much of the Fair was brand new to me. Everything from the butter cow to the novelty of fried Oreos had me wide-eyed with amazement. One of the highlights of the day was the opportunity to watch barrel racing for the first time. My heart was in my throat nearly the entire hour as I witnessed the most amazing horsemanship I’ve ever seen. If you’ve never experienced the Iowa State Fair, do yourself a favor and plan a visit. Whether you’re a first-timer or a State Fair veteran, here are some great titles on the library’s shelves to get you good and excited:

Iowa State Fair: County Comes to Town by Thomas Leslie

Still going strong after more than 150 years, and recently named as one of the 1000 Places to See Before You Die, Iowa’s fair attracts more than one million attendees from all over the world. Tourists looking for an authentic American experience are sure to find it, whether they’re enjoying the live music, sampling fair delicacies like deep fried Twinkies, or rubbing elbows with Iowans of all kinds.

Taste the Tradition: Recipes from the Iowa State Fair edited by Jean Balser, Jean Koss and Kathie Swift

Do you love Fair food? Check out this collection of delicious Iowa State Fair recipes and recreate the magic in your own kitchen! This invaluable assembly of recipes includes the following categories: appetizers, main dishes, breads, desserts, candies, and snack. With recipes ranging from Cider Hash Casserole to Tequila-Lime Mousse, check out these recipes and enjoy a taste of the Fair at home.

The Butter Cow Lady: the story of Norma “Duffy” Lyon by B. Green Lyon

The Butter Cow is one of the Fair’s largest – and most fascinating – attractions. The Butter Cow Lady is a fascinating and personal look into the unique life of Norma Lyon, a legendary folk artist, and the Butter Cow’s first female sculptor. Her life was one of adventure, filled with unexpected twists and turns. She defied the limits placed on her due to her gender, and became a true innovator in her field. To find out more about this Iowa State Fair legend, check out The Butter Cow Lady.

State Fair (DVD)

On the first day of the Iowa State Fair, both Margy Frake and her brother Wayne find romance. Will their new-found relationships continue after the fair is over? Starring Jeanne Crain and Dana Andrews, and featuring Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oscar-winning song “It Might as Well Be Spring,” this 1945 American musical is sure to get you in a State Fair mood.