UPDATED August 6, 2017: This is my trip report from 2007. If you’re planning on going, find a link to my podcast with my travel plan.
Iowa State Fair
Yesterday my family hit the Iowa State Fair. It’s one of the best state fairs in the country with some of the best examples of Exposition style architecture. Normally I feel that it is too crowded and if attendance keeps increasing they will either have to length the days or the buy more ground because they are running out of room. This year was a little better than usual because we were able to go on a weekday and it rained. It was still pretty busy before we left.
We have some places we hit every year and then we try to do a few new things. We usually start out in Agriculture Building. Besides the display of crops and the Master Gardeners Display, they have lots of booths and interesting things to see. I really liked the weed identification display. I picked up some more Morgan horse information, almost bought an ostrich egg, and saw their new giant agriculture coloring board, an idea I hope some of the Laura sites copy. I also saw the butter cow. Usually the first few days of the fair they are still working on it, but it’s done now. Iowa was one of the first places to have a butter cow. It’s different every year and built on a chicken wire frame. They reuse the butter several years. For at least the last 10 years they’ve done something else besides the cow. This year it was Harry Potter, Hedwig, the Fat Lady’s portrait, and a broom. It was a big display.
Next stop is Pioneer Hall to check out the antiques for sale and on display. Last year we got a great piece of red glass, but nothing this year. The old time music is very pleasant when you look around and I love to look at the lithograph machine. Next stop was our something new of the year, the fairly new State Fair Museum. I was rather disappointed it looked like a traveling exhibit, filled with things that I’m sure looked really good on paper and not so good in real life. The old museum where they left 99 percent of the objects in the collection is much better. I did enjoy the looping video that featured the car-airplane race, the airplane hits the house, and the two trains crashing in the 1930s (the 1920s one had been disappointing so this time they put gasoline and dynamite behind the engines). I admit it, I love it when the trains crash.
Then we stopped at the Buckskinners Rendevous. It has been shunted aside by a new stage and was partially closed up due to the rain, but I like to look in their sutler shops. I don’t know what happened to the model train exhibit, it was supposed to be getting a new building, but I couldn’t find it and bathrooms and the previously mentioned stage were in its old location.
Lunch was a REALLY big, Green River Phosphate in the Soda Fountain. No trip to the fair is complete without stopping at the Soda Fountain in Pioneer Village. Be sure to make a special trip, it’s worth it. Then we went to the Varied Industries Building. The booths from the Iowa Travel building have been squeezed in the former craft addition. I preferred it where it was, but the Travel was the only section we had a chance to get through. I stopped at several of the building places to get quotes for a building to hold my Laura collection and research equipment. Finally, I made a very quick run through the 4-H building and then it was time to go home. It was a great time as usual. My family has been going every year since they went in the Model T when my grandmother was just a little girl and it’s a different experience every year.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.