Saturday, August 11, 2012


(caution... picture heavy post, very long!)



Yesterday we drove to Des Moines to the Iowa State Fair, to meet Ralph and Trudy, Keith's parents.
We got a bit of a late start, what with getting the chores done and doing every.last.little.thing I could think of that might need to be done before leaving.  I topped off all feed and water, and off we went, leaving the dogs in.

The trip was uneventful... and we stopped here, one of my favorite places on earth.

This is the Iowa Welcome Center at Lamoni... inside it is now an "Amish Country Store", though there are other "country type" things for sale.

There is also fresh produce, handmade Amish baskets (for real) and bread and rolls baked fresh before they sell out every day.Lots and lots of local and other Amish foods for sales, relishes, pickles, jams and jellies... you get the picture. There used to be a great antique store in here, and lots of homemade Amish wood goods, but that side the of the building is now a Maid-Rite diner, with loose-meat sandwiches (Maid Rites) and shakes, sodas, etc.

My mother in law and I both love to stop and shop here going and coming.  Clean restrooms, free coffee, nice people.   It is run now by Graceland College from there in Lamoni.  We saw many, many Amish on the move yesterday, buggies headed into town.  We assume there was a funeral or something else that was drawing them together. (picture taken Saturday)

Here we are starting down the Grand Concourse, with the grandstand on the left.  You only see the tip of the crowd, it was big.  There are food stands of EVERY kind on this concourse on both sides, and the smells of fair food were very tempting.  Keith and I, unfortunately, both had upset stomachs so we kept holding off eating. His parents, Trudy and Ralph, were already at the fair, having driven over from Ames earlier in the morning. Keith had forgotten that if you do not get there early, you cannot park on the fair grounds.  We parked, instead, six blocks away in someone's front yard (for 7.00) and walked in.
There are a lot of "Bigs" at the Iowa State Fair, folks.

Here is the BIG PUMPKIN

Biggify that and you will see the Big Pumpkin weighs 932 pounds!

And this is the BIG CHOCOLATE MOOSE... he is at least 12 feet tall, made all of chocolate  There were so many people looking at him I couldn't get closer... there was a tape running on a tv explaining how he was made, but I didn't have a hope of getting near it.

Here is the BIG BULL... the nether end of him.  I could not get around to the front, and let me tell you, all the folks were just standing there in awe of all 2646 pounds of him!

And this is the famous BIG BUTTER COW of the Iowa State Fair:

This cow is historic, there is one every year.  My mother in law knew the lady who scuplted her for a long time... and told me that every year, they save the butter for the following year. 

She is in a cold case.

This wonderful sculpture of a horse's head is in the same building, which included the floriculture presentations.  It was so nice... I may just make it bigger so you can see it.

I loved this flower arrangement, and so did the judges, as it has a blue ribbon under it.  It used corn and zinnias and button zinnias... and the sticks colored a royal blue.  Just loved it's cheeriness, so did my MIL. 

We moved on and met the fellas in the coliseum, where we watched several classes of dairy cattle being judged. Yesterday was Ayrshire, Holstein and Milking Shorthorn Day.

Okay, I'm showing you this picture because this cow went Grand Champion ... check out her bag.  It made us hurt to see these poor girls being led in (SLOWLY) as they are shown with full bags of milk.  We were lucky to have a dairyman sitting in front of us, and he explained that they are milked out as soon as they can be gotten out of the arena, but still, it was painful to see.  This poor girl was stamping her feet in irritation, and could hardly walk.  We were told by the gentleman that if we thought show horses were expensive, we should price a cow like this, and we believed him.  The lady with the gray jacket on to the left was the Ayrshire judge.  Those are shorthorns to the rear.

Here she is, pronouncing one, two and three.  We are here to tell you that we followed these cows out of the arena, and they were milked out right away upon getting back to the barn. 

Here is a REALLY good idea, made by an FFA member:

It LOOKS like an outhouse, but is a tool shed for the garden!  Keith has put this on his list of "Things to Make". 

No, this isn't a picture of the zip lines, though they are in it... or, of the aerial ski life in the background left.  It's the huge windmill that sits on the hill above the fairgrounds... it was going around all day.  How cool is that, generating their own electricity?

The preserved goods were shown in cabinets, very well lit so that it was easy to read the labels.  Yayyy  for the Iowa State people for their wonderful presentation.  I saw some beautiful jellies, jams, salsas, picalillis, relishes, etc.

The very pale jars on the right (under the ladie's arm) are grapefruit jelly, which I have never heard of. 

These two pale pink jars on the first shelf contain "Dandelion and Violet Jelly".  Who would have thought?

We saw so many really cool things that there is not enough room to show you everything.  I would guess we only saw half of the fair's many delights.  To say we could have had anything to eat is a fair statement... there was everything to satisfy the palate.  Keith particularly enjoyed a display of restored old tractors by FFA members, while I enjoyed watching food judging. 

By the time we left for his parent's house in Ames, we were both dragging.  We found a pedicab driver to take us to the car, six blocks away (thank heavens). 

We have this to say about the fair... the grounds were meticulously maintained, clean and beautiful.  People were friendly.  Food was great!  So many things to see and do that there is something for everyone to enjoy.  I could have stayed in the building with the floriculture displays another hour if I had needed to.  I'm so glad we went, but we were absolutely worn out by the time we got to Ames.

Today, Saturday, we went our separate ways this morning... Keith and his dad to play golf, and Keith's mom and myself to Reiman Gardens, so I'll write about that tomorrow.

Staggering off to bed now, and believe me... we were grateful to get home and see our babies and be in our own home, be it ever so humble, we are so happy here, and that's all you can ask.


  1. I love fair season! That pumpkin is is the bull! I sure hope that pen is really, really sturdy! And a chocolate sculpture...never saw one of those...we have a butter sculpture at the PA State farm show each year, but chocolate? I wonder who gets to eat that one?! :)

  2. Wow, it looks like fun. Boy, I sure feel sorry for those dairy cows waiting to be milked!

  3. our fair season really starts picking up in two weeks... nothing compared to the big fairs you folks have... but is there anything better than a country fair... so glad you had the time to go and it looked like so much fun!!!!!

  4. Ok - this just had to be the state fair to beat all state fairs! Great shots! I am still in awe about everything, but the bull and the udders are just over the top!

  5. That fair looks like a blast!

  6. You were right near me~almost in my back yard! It's nice to hear so many good things about the Iowa State Fair. I have to agree that poor cow looks miserable.

  7. Looks like you had a really good time! I love going to the state fairs too. Those poor cows! I bet it was such a relief when they got the judging over with and went out to be milked. It's so wonderful that they have a big windmill to produce power for the fair. The less coal we use, the better. (My daughter can tell you coal mining horror stories... she spent a summer in West Virginia and saw first hand the devastation of mountain top removal and how it affected the people who lived there.) I've been to that same Welcome Center in Iowa. Their store is really lovely. I always purchase honey and jam.

  8. NEAT! Of course the horse is my favorite!!!!


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