There’s no doubt about it — nothing compares to the food, rides, exhibits and main attractions of the Iowa State Fair. Since venturing to Des Moines last summer with my dad, I decided I wanted to visit the fairgrounds again. I did, however, have an ulterior motive. Oh sure, I longed for fried fair delicacies, but deep down I longed for something else — something more meaningful.
When we ventured to Des Moines last year, it was toward the end of the fair and the one thing I longed to see the most was gone. My whole world shattered like an eggshell. But not this year; I was literally looking at the world through rose-colored glasses on Aug. 13. Because on that fateful day when I walked into the poultry building every breed of chicken imaginable was there for all the world and me to see. I couldn’t have been happier. My life, at that moment, was complete. I saw a mild-mannered Americana, beautiful pearly-white Golden Polish and some large and in-charge roosters who were as big as a small dog. I even saw chickens that didn’t even look like chickens. Unfortunately for them, they looked more like crows than chickens. My dad and I spent about 90 minutes in the poultry barn; I had a hard time leaving all of the girls behind. I couldn’t quite convince my dad to let a couple ride back home with us in the truck.
From the poultry building, we ventured over to Pioneer Hall where there were blacksmith, weaving and pottery demonstrations. I couldn’t leave without purchasing a couple mini-crocks with chickens stamped on them and labeled Iowa State Fair 2011.
After wandering around Pioneer Hall, we walked through the antique tractors. Besides my love for chickens, I also love tractors. I’m sure this probably stems from my childhood days when I rode on the tractor with my grandpa. My grandmother also collected die-cast tractors, which further cemented my interest in them. By looking at me you would probably never guess that one of my goals is to own a tractor someday. I long to hear the motor of an old Farmall or Ford purring around Klucker Farms. I have to admit I did get a little misty eyed when I saw two that resembled ones my grandpa owned.
After admiring the tractors, we headed for the agriculture building. Before going inside, we checked out the state fair’s prize-winning pumpkin grown by Marc Petersen and Dan Carlson of Clinton. I did a story on the team, known as C&P, a few days prior for the Herald so it was cool to see the pumpkin again. Inside the ag building, I grabbed a free spatula courtesy of the Rose Acre egg farm and hard-boiled egg from the Iowa Egg Council along with a temporary tattoo that said, “I’m a good egg.”
This state fair was all about celebrating 100 years of the butter cow. My dad and I, along with a million others it seemed, flocked around refrigerated cases to see this year’s infamous statue carved out of butter. I don’t think I could carve a chicken out of butter let alone a cow. It was pretty impressive.
Going to the fair just wouldn’t be the same without eating some of its signature staples. My dad was beyond thrilled when he bit into a footlong corndog. Over the past year I managed to get up enough courage to try something fried. I stood in line for awhile to get a fried Twinkie, but my interest started to wane after 10 minutes. So, I embarked toward the fried pickle stand. I have to say that a hot, fried pickle dipped in ranch sauce tastes a lot better than it sounds. It wasn’t like eating a chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven, but it was close. Needless to say, I bypassed the fried butter on a stick; that sounded disgusting.
After walking non-stop from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., my dad and I were thrilled to finally sit down in the truck for our drive home. I have to confess the drive home was just about as entertaining as walking through the poultry building. We listened and sang along to my dad’s one and only CD, “Swimming in Champagne,” by Eric Heatherly. His music is a combination of country and swing. We had a lot of fun singing along to “Flowers on the Wall” and I thought my dad’s foot was going to go right through the floor boards when he was rock’n out to “She’s So Hot.” Dad, I have to give you credit, you sounded pretty good.
Even though I had a lot of fun at the fair, it was nice to get back home again.
Angie Bicker has been employed with the Clinton Herald since 2001.