Saturday, August 10, 2019

State Fair Time

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It’s August, and for many that means county and state fairs. Living in Iowa, the state fair is a phenomenon people make plans for weeks before it begins and talk about it for months after it’s over. The smell of caramel corn, horses and livestock; the sounds of children squealing on the carousel and octopus rides, and the endless sights of people, colors, movement and lights are not something you forget. 

Even with that being said, I’ve yet to use a state fair for the setting of a book, but have used Independence Day celebrations, Christmas, a mermaid festival and the Kentucky Derby. Every celebration or holiday has specific details and rituals which, if the writer has studied well, bring the event to life for the reader. We feel the sweat trickle down our backs in the heat of a summer day and the press of people as we jostle in line for the rides. We smell the roasted corn; hear the vendors hawking the latest in veg-o-matics and massage chairs; see the beautiful quilts and food displays, and taste all there is to taste.

Ah, that’s where the Iowa State Fair shines! At one time, you could get a corndog, cotton candy or popsicle on a stick. Now, it has become a serious undertaking each year to come up with different foods, most of them “on a stick”. Everything from fried pickles to pork chops becomes easily portable so you can continue your walk along the midway and displays. This year’s fair is touting 57 different foods for you to try. (You’d better plan to be there for more than one day!)  Too many to list, I’ve picked a few that sound intriguing.

All things apples – cider, caramel apple bites and cider shakes, apple nachos and more. I think the “Boozy Pecan Caramel Apple” sounds very tempting.

All things bacon – (We’re known for our pork here in Iowa.) How about Berkshire Bacon Balls, on a stick, of course.

Other food on a stick include Brownie waffles, chicken Parmesan and the traditional corn dog, though this one is super sized.

And if it’s not on a stick (and often even when it is) you know it is fried. A few of the favorites this year include deep fried deviled eggs, fried avocado slices, and about ten or more flavors of funnel cakes. One year the group of us tried at least six different flavors of funnel cakes and I went home with powdered sugar all over my shirt.

Last year before my family attended the state fair, we spent the evening watching “State Fair”, the movie. Some of you are thinking Pat Boone and Ann Margaret; I know I was. But not with my brother-in-law at the helm. A movie aficionado, he chose the 1954 version which was set at the Iowa State Fair, while the Pat and Ann movie had actually taken place in Oklahoma. Besides the fact the father had been dousing the mother’s fruit cake entry with bourbon (or some such), the thing I found remarkable were the clothes they wore to the fair. Today you see everything, and quite often less than anything! Some outfits should not have been worn out of the bedroom. But in 1954, the men were in suits and flat-topped straw hats and the women wore heels and dresses with crinolines! Can you imagine riding the five cent Ferris wheel in a dress?

Come one, come all to the great state fair for family fun and entertainment. If you haven’t “done” a state fair, you are missing out on a great time.

I'll be there August 12!
Barbara Baldwin

1 comment:

  1. Never been to a state fair and haven't really wanted to. Food sounds great though


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