Hard living ages you, so it's tough to guess if he was 65 or 80, but he was definitely too old to have all those naked ladies tattooed up and down his arms. His bald head was a gleaming, veiny mix of wrinkly old man tan and sweat but luckily we were still able to decipher the blue tattoo on his cranium that said "THAT TURNS ME ON!" in block letters. We listened to his smokey laugh as everyone gazed at the miniature horses dressed like ninjas and tried not to hurl from the manure and body odor swirling around the barn.
The Iowa State Fair is ridiculous, overwhelming and awesome. And I say awesome less like "far out" and more like truly awe-inducing bc this thing is unbelievable.
The 4-H exhibit hall was out of control cool. Breathtaking wooden porch swings and bed frames and gun cases, all handcrafted by 13- and 14-year-olds, ridiculously interesting and funky photographs, complicated quilts, the whole bit. Basically, name something people can make and/or grow, and the blue ribbon winners and runners-up were on display. We also saw posters presenting things like "Iowa's Owls," "Types of Beef Cuts and How to Best Prepare Them," and "Making Your Own 100-calorie Snack Packs Will Save You $137 a Year." To our delight, the incredible mix of stuff was perfectly illustrated by the fact that the picture-enhanced "Deer Hunting with Disabilities" poster was right next to "The Life of J.S. Bach." And on stage, two 9-year-old boys played Chopsticks (though the poster advertised it as "Chop-ticks") on the piano for an appreciative audience of several hundred fair-goers, while moments later, three overweight 20-somethings in sequins took the stage to gyrate/lip-sync to "Hit Me With Your Best Shot!"
That was all just in the first building.
In another huge building, there was a 1,100-pound pumpkin and blue ribbon cucumbers, zucchinis, gourds, corn, and everything else you can think of. We honored the winners of the weed identification contest and drooled over the best strawberries and soy beans in the state before comparing the size and texture of various apples. We later sauntered through an incredible milking station and applauded the enormous and virile "Super Bull." And most of all, we saw droves and droves of people. An estimated 100,000+ people A DAY go to this thing and it is NUTS.
(Turkey legs, which, as you may know, are significantly bigger than they appear so when you eat one you look like a Viking.)
Though we ate only a few regular treats and a turkey leg (and felt delightfully barbaric), we could have easily sampled: BBQ everything, walking tacos, po' boys, fried candy bars on a stick, fried oreos on a stick, fried twinkies on a stick, pork chop on a stick, funnel cakes on a stick, hardboiled egg on a stick, veggie dog on a stick, fried pickle on a stick, cotton candy-flavored fudge, fried mac-and-cheese, and bacon dipped in your choice of cheese or chocolate. We could have also partaken of a fried wonder entitled the Potato Lollipop.
Thanks to a sweet, exhausted kiddo who loved petting the cows and making friends but who did NOT love missing her nap, plus a mid-afternoon rainstorm, we didn't get to see everything this time, but apparently we missed arm wrestling, sheep shearing and even a cow made of butter.
Had we gone in previous years, reliable sources indicate that we could have seen a life-sized butter sculpture of Tiger Woods and Iowa's own olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson.
Can you feel the magic?