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‘Our state fair is the best state fair ...’

Country Roads

August 20, 2012
Arvid Huisman ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

"Our state fair is the best state fair in the state"

Rodger's and Hammerstein's 1945 musical movie "State Fair," claimed that the Iowa State Fair is the "best state fair in our state." A low bar to be sure, but it's a darn good fair.

On the first Friday of the State Fair, my Rotary Club holds its 7 a.m. meeting at the fair. After breakfast and a guest speaker many of us, including my wife and me, stick around for the day.

This year our daughter was home from Wisconsin and Linda, my wife's friend from Sioux City, came to visit us for the weekend. They attended our Rotary meeting as my guests and we stuck around for the day.

There was an hour to kill between the time the Rotary meeting ended and most fair activities begin so we toured the animal barns, checking out the Big Bull, Big Boar and Big Ram.

Along the way I ran into an acquaintance from back home and spent some time meeting her family and catching up. By the time I was done visiting and the women had seen all the pigs, it was time for the Varied Industries Building to open.

After touring the displays in the Varied Industries Building, but I purchased a bucket of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies from the cookie vendor there. We enjoyed cookies and Diet Cokes - a balanced snack. It was there I ran into a cousin and his wife so I stayed and enjoyed more cookies with them while the ladies ran off to see the chocolate moose.

After the ladies confirmed that the chocolate moose was not for consumption, they retrieved me from cookie heaven and we proceeded to other displays. In the cultural center I opted to enjoy the comfort of a bench while the women looked at cultural things. While sitting there I met a pleasant senior gentleman from Ottumwa.

The gentleman and I were just into a good conversation about coal mining in Southern Iowa when the gals came by and said they were ready to move on.

We walked up the hill to Pioneer Hall. This time they took a bench while I checked out the antiques and the flea market. I ran into a gentleman from our church who was caning a chair. I hadn't seen a chair caner in action in decades so I stopped to visit with Bill while watching him perform his artistry.

Bill said the day before a couple from Boston stopped by. They had read about the Iowa State Fair and wanted to see it for themselves. A day earlier they and another Boston couple flew to Des Moines and planned to spend a week at the fair. After all it's the best state fair in our state.

Walking back toward the Grand Concourse we smelled pork cooking. Our friend, Linda, and I got into the long line for a pork-chop-on-a-stick. While in line I met a young couple from my home county. We had a nice visit until interrupted by our arrival at the cash register.

We ate our pork-on-a-stick while my wife and daughter dined on gyros from another vendor. To each their own, but I'll take a good cut of Iowa pig over a messy gyro any day.

While the gals went off to buy a funnel cake I headed for the Nitro Ice Cream booth under the grandstand. The fair only happens once a year so I bought the largest dish available and enjoyed every fat-cell-generating spoonful.

We finished our desserts and headed for the State Fair Spelling Bee where our grand-nephew was a competitor. We found a seat with his parents and sister enjoyed watching the young spellers.

Too pooped to proceed we headed for our car in its $10 a day parking spot. While our 30-something daughter slipped into her seat easily, us older folks moaned and groaned as we dragged our tired fannies into the vehicle.

On Saturday I went back to the fair for several hours to help a friend at his company's booth in the ag building. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting new people, but I came to the conclusion that a day and a half at our state fair is about enough even if it is the best state fair in our state.



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