I have two fairly big goals for my day at the fair:
- Do not eat any fried foods.
- Do not spend more than $50 for both me and Mazy for the entire day.
Both will be tough... Very tough, but I think we can do it! And I always have loved a challenge.
I'm taking Mazy with me, but Bo is going to daycare and Shawn going to work. An entire day at the fair is a little long for both of them. :) One gets cranky, and the other is still wearing pull-ups and needs an afternoon nap. Joining us will be: Mom, sis Heidi, nephew Theron, nephew Hudson, nephew Kael, aunt Sherie, cousin Luke, sister-in-law Keri, nephew Maddox. Whew! We'll be the attraction as we head down the main concourse trying not to lose children or run people over!
In anticipation of the day ahead, I wanted to share my top 10 list for the Iowa State Fair. And here's a great map of the fairgrounds for those of you who want to see the places I'm talking about:
- The Cultural Building -- atop one of the hills and packed full of artwork and crafts, this is a must-see for visitors of all ages. Last year Mazy had a drawing on display. Sadly, this year we didn't get one entered. This building has everything from photos to magnificent dollhouse displays. The kids can get a tattoo painted on their cheek, look at the giant sand castle competition, watch a potter (who was my mom's best friend in school) create some pots and vases, get a tie-dyed pair of socks, or relax on a rocking chair on the front porch.
- Master Gardeners' Display -- surrounding much of the Ag Building is an amazing collection of plants and flowers that will inspire you and make you happy. The kid's garden features a vine-covered tunnel; there's a bridge over a little pond; lots of cool yard art and truly gorgeous gardens. When you need a break, find a shady bench and enjoy the scenery.
- Original Sky Glider -- Not far from Ye Olde Mill and the Midway is the original sky glider that takes you up, up, up the big hill to Pioneer Hall. I love this ride b/c it gives you a great view of the fair, plus, you don't have to walk up the hill! And on hot afternoons when you've been walking for several hours, that can make all the difference...
- 4-H Building -- For many years I would rush into the 4-H Building on the southern side of the fairgrounds in search of my projects so I could see what color of ribbon I had received. You never knew where they might be and half the fun was finding them! I love this building because it proves that kids still know how to give public presentations, bake homemade bread and remodel antique tractors. It's an amazing display of projects that will make you appreciate teenagers again.
- Agriculture Building -- I love, love, love this building! I think it's one of the oldest on the fairgrounds. Whoever designed it was brilliant -- it captures even a whisper of breeze through all it's big open doorways and keeps it pretty cool inside. Look at the vegetable, fruit and flower competitions. Buy a piece of fudge or a strawberry shortcake dessert. Check out what the FFA students are educating you on. Look at the honey bees. Make a necklace. And of course, ogle at the glorious and wonderful Butter Cow! The Butter Cow tradition is 100 years old this year and there's sure to be a great sculpted butter display to celebrate it!
- Elwell Family Food Center -- Over on the west side of the fair is the food building where Iowa's culinary elite vie for cash prizes in categories ranging from wedding cakes to jams to homemade breads and pies to ugliest cakes and sorghum recipes. This dark, cool building will cool you off on a hot day and inspire you to start baking again! My coworker Jill will be selling her new cookbook, Two Chicks from the Sticks, in this building so look her up!
- Iowa Cattlemen's Restaurant -- I can't believe I made it this far without talking about food! I call this on-site, open-air restaurant a destination b/c you will be served by very hardworking, friendly volunteers who are all Iowa cattle farmers. The food is delicious and very filling, you'll get your moneys worth. It's likely there will be a Beef Queen on premises to take your order or welcome you. Go early or go late, the lines are always out the door!
- Avenue of Breeds in the Swine Barn -- It will be crawling with "city people" (going to the fair always brings out the country girl in me) but this is one barn you don't want to miss. Interesting breeds of ducks, chickens, rabbits, cattle, sheep, horses, etc. reside in this corner of the barn and are a treat to see. Kids love them!
- Quilting/Sewing collection in the Varied Industries Building -- Forget the hoards of people scrambling for free stuff in the main building, and instead head up the stairs to admire the beautiful quilts, blankets, clothes and other sewn items. I have yet to enter anything, but one day I will!
- DNR Building and Outdoor Pond -- If you're taking children to the fair, don't miss this really cool old building packed full of aquariums with Iowa's marine life. Outdoors is a wonderful duck pond with ducks, geese and maybe a swan or two. It's a really cool place to learn more about our natural resources and what we can all do to keep them healthy and safe.
You know I could go on and on. I love the fair!!! And the only person I know who loves it more is my mom! She will be in hog heaven (pardon the pun) tomorrow when she is there with so many of her grandchildren! I'll take my camera and fill you on our day tomorrow.