Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Fiver: Iowa State Fair favorites

As I mentioned in Thursday's post, I am going to the Iowa State Fair this weekend. 

I think I've gone to it every year that I've lived in Iowa (and even went once when I was home from Texas).  I interned in the fair's marketing department several summers ago, so I have a deeper appreciation for how much work goes into the 10-day affair. I look forward to the state's signature event each year, especially when the Brice girls are my companions on the adventure.  There are so many things to love about the fair, but here are my handful of highlights.

1.  Fried Oreos 

I don't keep Oreos in my house (because I cannot leave them alone), so my annual indulgence occurs at the fairgrounds.  They might sound disgusting, but really, they're heaven in your mouth.  The Oreos are dipped in batter (similar to a funnel cake) and then fried, so the insides get soft.  They're then topped with powdered sugar or a light icing.  So good.  The apple cider slush is pretty amazing too. The food is really a big part of the event.  There's even an online directory to tell you where to find what you're craving.  I'm kind of curious about the chocolate covered tiramisu on a stick.

2.  People watching

The fair draws about a million visitors each year, so it's a given that these folks are from all walks of life.  There are tourists and locals and people who have never been in a barn and people who look like they were born in one.  It's a wonderful assortment, and I love it. Arguably the best night to people watch is the first Friday of the fair (tonight).  It's locally known as "East Sider Night," and you'll need to take off your shoes to count the mullets.

3.  Baby animals

Who doesn't love piglets?  Honestly.  They're freaking adorable.  The farrowing display is always pretty crowded, but I try and get through to see the baby pigs who are anywhere from a few hours old to a few days old.  The fair also recently opened an exhibit in the Animal Learning Center with baby animals from other species too.  Last year, the baby ducks won me over with their adorableness.

4.  Free entertainment

The grandstand gets some amazing acts, but I haven't gone to one in years.   I prefer to see what I can take in for the price of gate admission.  In the past I've seen Matt Nathanson, an ABBA tribute group (excellent!), Vocal Trash, the Blenders (a major favorite), Trick Pony, the Nadas and Jason Brown. This year, I'm seeing Vanilla Ice and Tone Loc.  Don't try and hide your jealousy.

5.  Shoppers Mart

Tucked underneath the grandstand is an expanse of bargains and interesting products.  I rarely buy anything in here (I spend all my money on food...ha ha), but I love browsing and seeing what's available.  Among the regular selections are jewelery, candles and bed sheets.  You can also find the Shamwow, Pillow Pals and many other "As Seen on TV" items.

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