Proving Des Moines is NOT boring

My State Iowa State Fair Agenda

This Thursday starts the Iowa State Fair. The nice thing about the fair is that it is many different things to many different people and not just one thing to everybody. Some people go to the fair to camp, to show their livestock and to win best in show. Others go to the fair to hit the Midway, to ride all the crazy rides, and get their money’s worth for their Midway Mega Passes. For the some, the fair is all about shows and entertainment, whether it’s getting tickets to a Grandstand show, catching some of the free shows, or even watching the Bill Riley Talent Search. And for pretty much everybody, the fair is a chance to indulge in the spectacular fair cuisine. Clearly, a day at the fair can be very different depending on who you are talking to. Everyone has their fair “agenda”…a list of must-sees while at the fair. Here is mine!

mural for fairOne of our favorite attractions at the fair is the Dollhouse and Miniature Room display. As I have been a mother of daughters for nearly 14 years, seeing tiny doll-sized houses with tiny doll-sized décor has been a favorite of ours for many years. Every year we go and check out the newest entries and we vote on our favorite. We never learn who wins the most votes until the next year yet somehow my children can always remember who they had voted for the previous year. Impressive. Wish this rock-solid memory would somehow transfer over to remembering to bring their lunch to school each day.

We also always hit the Varied Industries Building to check out all the vendors and exhibitors selling their wares or promoting their cause. I am never in the market for a new hot tub, but I don’t mind checking them out. My kids have enjoyed collecting tattoos here as well, leaving the fair all tatted up and making their first day of school-pictures look a little sketchy sometimes. We always check out the University of Iowa exhibit to pick up a free poster or schedule and get excited for the football season to come. Mostly, we hit the Varied Industries Building to enjoy some conditioned air and take a break from the typically warm August day.

I will admit, this next must-see is a new one to me. My niece entered a photograph in a photography competition and recently learned she qualified for state. I am so unfamiliar with the competition process at the fair that I am not entirely sure where she entered this photograph, who decided she had qualified for state, or where we will go to see her photograph on display. But we will be going to see her photograph and I am certain we will take some pictures of it of our own!

This year, my accomplished niece will also be attending the Carrie Underwood show along with my sister-in-law and my daughter. That is the only Grandstand show we are attending, but I am guessing we would have been happy to attend a whole lot more of the shows this year. My classic rock-loving husband would be thrilled to see Def Leppard (with Styx and Tesla), YES and Toto, and the Rock-A-Thon (with Dee Snider, Dokken and more). My daughters would be delighted if I took them to see Meghan Trainor (with Charlie Puth …they love them both)! And that catchy Honey I’m Good singer, Andy Grammer, will be there with The Fray as well. Lots of options to be entertained this year!

I first saw the artwork of Ben Schuh at the Des Moines Arts Festival. Amongst other things he paints pictures of beer in various forms. I have always wanted to purchase one of these paintings for my home bar, but never have been able to pull the trigger. Well, now I hear he has been selected to paint a custom mural at the Patty and Jim Cownie Center during the fair! I will have to be sure to stop by and watch the artist in action, painting a mural that reflects the diversity that is Iowa.

Speaking of beer…the number one thing at the Iowa State Fair that I love the best is of course the Iowa Craft Beer Tent! Forty-eight taps will be available offering beers from across the state. Since I have easy access to many Des Moines-based breweries, I will probably focus my attention on the beers from Iowa’s borders, most notably Toppling Goliath Brewing Company out of Decorah. Can’t wait to see what they bring!

I am sure we will find much more to do between breakfast and the end of the Carrie Underwood concert! That’s another great thing about the fair. Every year you go back to experience your favorite things and every year you add something new to that list. Can’t wait to see what it is this year!