Opening day of the Iowa State Fair! 100 years of the butter cow! Fried food on a stick! This is too much to handle in a day... (I mean it is in the book 1000 Things To See Before You Die.)
While I was back home in Iowa I got to relive an old tradition of going to the state fair with my family. (My mom, grandparents, aunt, uncle & 2 cousins) We usually spend a good 10-12 hours strolling the 288 acre grounds.
The state fair has not always been held in Des Moines. It wasn't until 1878 that it permanently moved to Des Moines on East 30th and East Grand.
In 1898, the Fair was cancelled due to the World's Fair in Omaha, Nebraska. The Fair was also closed in 1942 when the military used the grounds during World War II.
The Fair celebrated its sesquicentennial in 2004 and set an attendance record of 1,053,978 visitors. That record was broken in 2008 with 1,109,150 visitors. It's estimated that during the 11 days of the fair approximately $60 million worth of spending occurs (in travel, lodging, restaurants, shopping, etc)
Things To Do
1) The world famous Butter Cow.
The butter cow started in 1911. In 1960, butter sculptor Norma "Duffy" Lyon (known as the Butter Cow Lady) created her first butter cow. In the following 45 years, she sculpted all six breeds of dairy cows, as well as Garth Brooks, a butter version of Grant Wood's American Gothic, the Peanuts characters, Iowa native John Wayne, Elvis Presley, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, various animals and a butter rendition of Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper. Her butter sculptures were featured in national magazines and radio programs, as well as on The Today Show and The Late Show with David Letterman. Following Lyon's retirement in 2005, longtime apprentice Sarah Pratt took over the sculpting duties.
2) The Midway and its double Ferris wheel.
3) One of world's largest livestock shows. (which include the biggest boar, ram, super bull, rabbit and heaviest pigeon.)
4) The country's largest state fair foods department, arts show and over 600 exhibitors.
5) Contests: sheep shearing, pigeon rolling, rooster crowing, wood chopping, pie eating, monster arm wrestling, outhouse races, cow chip throwing and tall corn and the world's only lawn chair toss competition.
6) Concerts ranging from local gospel choirs and dance troupes to Grammy-winning artists.
7) And you can't forget more than 50 foods on-a-stick!
8) The Bill Riley Iowa State Fair Talent Search. (I always REALLY wanted to do this when I was a kid!)
Bill Riley's Iowa State Fair Talent Search debuted in 1959 and features Iowans ages 2 to 21. In 1996, after 50 Fairs and 37 Fair Talent Shows, Riley retired. That same year, the Plaza Stage was renamed the Anne and Bill Riley Stage. In 2006, Bill celebrated his 60th State Fair. He died in December 2006. It is now hosted by Bill Riley Jr.
Here are the highlights of my trip to the fair in 2011!
(1)Me and my roasted corn in the husk. (2)Fried Mac n Cheese (3)Kettle corn & the BEST caramel kettle popcorn! (4)Funnel cake (5)My cousin w/a tenderloin (6)My aunt, mom & I w/our wine-a-ritas (7)Deep fried oreos
New! Fried Butter on a Stick. A stick of butter dipped in a cinnamon honey batter then deep fried. My whole family took a bite. I was skeptical but it tasted like a very buttery cinnamon roll.
Get your bull or cow semen...
I always look forward to a good sheep jazzercise outfit. After watching sheep judging, step outside and get your lamb entree...
My mom & me with Cy! My Iowa State University Cyclones tattoo!
My grandpa likes to watch this guy he knows carve with a chainsaw. Very skilled. Him and another guy make a few sculptures everyday at the fair. This time he made a cow.
100 Years of the Butter Cow. The first 2 photos are a recreation of the first butter cow sculpture. The last one is the 100th butter cow. (I really like saying butter cow.)