Iowa State Fair

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 Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.


A Friend Has Passed Away

Bob Brimacomb, husband of Ferneva Brimacomb, the former director of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Burr Oak, Iowa, passed away very suddenly recently. He was often around the museum giving a hand, keeping the Laura Days running smoothly, and building several things for the museum. Bob was in short, a great guy and a fellow Laura person. He was supposed to come on the museum trip to Malone next month and he will surely be missed then and ever after. Leave your consoldences here:

Read his obituary here:

The obituary doesn’t indicate where the memorial money should be sent, but I sent a donation to the Burr Oak Museum in memory of Bob, and I urge you do the same.

 Sarah Uthoff

Laura Ingalls Wilder Article – “On the Way Home”

I just stumbled across a selection from a book put out by the National Archives. You can buy the book “Eyewitness” from their store. It’s unclear whether it’s an excerpt or the entire Laura section, but you can preview it online,

Especially note the two typewritten manuscript pages from “On the Way Home” and the old photo of Rocky Ridge Farm.

I got my copy of Prologue Winter 2003 today and it was worth every penny. There are MANY more images than the online version, full page and very clear. You may also buy a copy of this from store of the National Archives or preview it online (remembering not all the images appear)

Also, make sure you click on the link for the second part at the bottom of part one.

Sarah Uthoff

Book – Freddy and the Dragon (Freddy the Pig Series) by Walter R. Brooks

Freddy the Pig takes part in an incredibly wide range of adventures based from the Bean farm where all the animals, birds, and even insects can talk. Freddy has been a cowboy and a detective among other things. The books in the series interconnect and refer back and forth, but you can pick up any single book in the series and soon catch up with what is going on. I have recommended other single books in this series to classes for read alouds and they have gone over well. This series had been out of print for years when the high prices people were paying for old books brought new editions for various books in the series.

In this book, Freddy, Jinx (the cat), Mrs. Wiggins (a cow who is Freddy’s partner in the detective business) are all back along with Uncle Ben the atomic inventor and taking a particularly prominent role is Samuel Jackson the mole. Someone is trying to frame Freddy for various crimes and so Freddy disguises himself as a little boy in a sailor suit and Uncle Ben invents a dragon. Come join in the fun of this or any other Freddy the Pig book.

 Sarah Uthoff

Happy Birthday Carrie!

Happy Birthday Carrie! Wishing all the best to you and those celebrating Carrie Ingalls Day at the Keystone Area Historical Society. One of these years I hope that I’ll be able to make it there for the celebration. For those of you who don’t know where Keystone is, it’s probably where you had lunch when you went to see Mt. Rushmore. There are only two towns anywhere near it and Keystone is a little closer.

 Sarah Uthoff

Change for Dates for Walnut Grove Pageant in 2008

Nicole Elzenga of the Walnut Grove museum just made the following announcement.

“The Wilder Pageant the Pageant Committee decided last night to drop the Sundays of the pageant dates. This will give the actors a day off break before returning the work week. This may encourage more actors to try-out.

The 2008 Wilder Pageant Dates
Fridays & Saturdays only
July 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26

Be sure to write the dates down to start planning your 2008 trips.”