Do you love to go to State Fairs as I do? Watching people, exploring exhibits, and tasting sugar-coated, deep-fried, and smoked whatever on a stick makes me smile. My wife and I visited the Iowa State Fair last week and had a wonderful time. They had 70 different foods on a stick, and no, I didn't try them all.
My first memories of attending a State Fair were as a Boy Scout. We slept in tents, ate 'fair food,' and never left the fairgrounds for the week we attended. Most of our work took place in the evenings helping at the Grandstand. The rest of our time was spent exploring the fair and making new friends from across the region. I was intrigued by the kids my age and younger, who brought their prized livestock to show and sell. They handled the large bulls, cows, and horses as easily as a toy poodle on a leash.
The Iowa State Fair sits on 445 acres and first opened in 1854. Over a million people visited last year, making it one of the top three State Fairs in the country. If you haven’t gone, I would certainly recommend it. We met a family that has used the same fairgrounds campsite for over a hundred years. They move in the week before the fair and stay until the end. I admit I was a bit envious of this great family tradition.
We enjoyed walking through each of the livestock barns. It's smart to keep an eye on where you are walking because there are a lot of things you don't want to step in. I would suggest you don't wear flip-flops in the swine barn. Usually, the animal’s owners were close by to watch over their prized animals. They were friendly when I asked dumb questions. How old is it? What does it weigh? Did you breed it yourself? That one got a laugh and a quick no until I rephrased it.
The highlight for me was watching the newborns in the Animal Learning Center. The vets and their staff went from one stall to another to ensure each birth went smooth. I watched goat kids, two hours old, stand on wobbly legs, and instinctively latch onto their mothers and nurse. Chicks were pecking their way out of the shell and wide-eyed calves getting up each time they stumbled down. I’ve spent enough time around farms to see these things before, but it always amazes me how quickly they adapt to this world. They seem calm and curious. I had a big smile on my face, and then I looked around. Every person of every age was smiling too. The miracle of birth makes us happy.
- Some State Fairs are much better than others. Talk to friends and see which ones they suggest. Google Best State Fairs for additional information to help you decide.
- Dress for the weather, stay hydrated, and rest every so often helps ensure a pleasant experience.
- An Internet search can provide information on which days are busiest, what events take place each day, and the weather forecast to help make your Fair experience better.
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