Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Iowa State Fair: Largest Pumpkin I Ever Did See

Yup, that's Nick in his cute sun hat. He is sitting in front of a 1,099 lb. pumpkin. I am thinking he was a little afraid of it. This was our first trip to any state fair, ever, and boy did I have a lot to learn. But my friend Gardenmom is a veteran fair goer, and she filled me in on what I need to know:

Rule #1--Make it Big! People like big things. Giant turkey legs, sculptures, livestock, statues, and even produce were found throughout the fair. Like Exhibit A--the pumpkin.

Exhibit B is a pig. It is as big as a cow, but shorter. Also, it is far less attractive. If I was a lady pig, I would stay far, far away from this big boy.

The food portions were also big at the Iowa State Fair. It would've been easy to eat loads of junk food. I saw some foods I've never tried before: deep fried twinkies and oreos. I had wanted to try those, but in a way, I'm kind of glad I didn't. I stuck to a turkey sandwich for my lunch, and a hot dog and some fried zucchini for dinner. Not too bad when I could've gone crazy on the corn dogs and elephant ears.

Our trip to the fair was in a large group of seven--we barely fit in my friend Gardenmom's van. We went with her and her son, her boyfriend, and his two children, who were extremely helpful with Nick. Everyone helped to make sure we had a great time. It is interesting how kids in IL and Iowa learn different things. I was astounded at how much the boys knew about different tractors. . . which leads me to the next rule.

Rule #2--You can relate anything and everything to farming. Iowa is filled with farm fields, so farming and its various implements are a core part of the fair. Take for example the shuttle. What would normally be a bus, shuttling people to and from the parking lots to the fair, is instead a tractor. No, really. There were also a ton of booths set up to sell people farming stuff: seeds, tractors, and giant metal implements that I couldn't identify.

Also following Rule #2, and Rule #1 as well, are these statues. Yes, Nick is really laughing as he sits under a statue of a giant chicken. The statue of an astronaut is not only huge but is also carved out of butter. There was also a giant cow and a television sculped of butter.

On a side note, you can see some really interesting people at the Iowa State Fair. People-watching is pretty hilarious. It is amazing how many unflattering outfits and tattoos congregate in one location. Mimicking their parents, I suppose, the kids even have contests to see how many temporary tatoos they can stick all over their bodies. We're not just talking about the little kids, either. I saw teenagers with company logo tattoos covering all exposed body parts. And boy, did they have exposed body parts! It was pretty funny to see the lines of kids getting fake tattoos all over their bodies. I guess it must be an Iowa thing.

Which brings us to Rule #3--Clothing is a flexible concept at the Iowa State Fair. I was too embarrassed to take pictures of people who were truly scandalous, but Nick sure loved the idea. There is a water play area at the fair that kids can play in, and I let Nick go in just his diaper. When in Rome, and all that. Nick sure loves semi-nudity. I think he'd be happiest if I let him wear only a diaper all the time. He'd probably tell me to skip the diaper, too, if he could talk.

Rule #4--Animals are cool. They are a central theme of the Iowa State fair. I actually loved seeing the animals, and so did Nick. Here he is looking at a horse while the horse looks at him. Both of them seemed mildly curious. The horse actually turned his head to look at Nick.

We also saw some awesome looking fuzzy chickens, turkeys, llamas, goats, sheep, and very cute pigs. All of the animals looked so pretty; I guess their owners groomed them well before the fair.

This isn't a real animal, but it was sure Nick's favorite ride. He wasn't big enough for the carnival rides, but he was just the right size for the pink elephant!

This last picture is of Nick sitting with Gardenmom's son in a little jeep. He loved it and didn't want to get out. Nick and I really did have a great time on our trip to Iowa. I'm always appreciative of other cultures, and the agricultural rural communities of Iowa definitely constitute a culture of their own. It was kind of neat to be outside of my comfort zone and in a new area. The hills and fields in Iowa were beautiful, and everyone I met was welcoming. My trip definitely wasn't as exotic as my vacation in Paris last summer, but it was still enjoyable. I'm so glad I had the chance to have a little getaway this year.

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