As teachers, our busy time comes in streaks: The end of the grading periods, end of the school year, holidays, and the beginning of the school year.

So, why not have both Irish Fest AND Iowa State Fair stuff in a full week right before the start of the school year? That makes sense, right?


We spent last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Waterloo at Iowa Irish Fest and had a blast. We then got to reset, and travel on Tuesday to the Iowa State Fair. This is our sixth year staying with our friends, helping them show their Brown Swiss, laughing A LOT, eating fair food (sad note, they don’t have garlic cheese curds anymore) catching up with people with other show people, and generally allowing ourselves to shed into different skins. It’s 90% pretty boring because there’s one show for us, but for that 10% we are moving and grooving (23,000 steps on show day!).

Thursday the fair opens and Friday we start seeing a big group of people into the barns. Our friends’ daughter was the Iowa Brown Swiss Princess as was our daughter. They both were so good in drawing people down our string of animals by asking one question:

“Would you like to pet the calf?”


Let me tell you what, little kids are amazing when they are offered this chance. Some bounce, some get shy, but most just look at their parents with those “can I” eyes. Who is going to say no to those eyes?? πŸ™‚

But the adults are the ones who floor me. We had a group come in and it was one couple’s first time at the fair. They walked in and one of the women says, “I love this places! I love these cows!” My wife, a teacher herself, hears this as offers this woman a chance to be the calf in the group.

You’d have thought she was just offered a million dollars.

Her eyes got big. Her face was this mixture of pleasure and surprise and just plain WTF. Her reply? “Can I?”


So she comes up and we find out she and her boyfriend had moved to Des Moines the past November and this was her first state fair. Her friends brought them and the dairy barn was their first stop. Her friend said, “I’m not sure we are ever going to leave!” As we talked, my wife talked to this woman about how these were “working cows”, they did in fact give milk (she pointed down the string to the big girls on the end), and how dairy animals and beef animals were very different and how they needed to come. back to see those. This woman’s day was made in her first stop.

Another family pet the calf, then went down the string to were introduced to the calf’s mother. Their eyes got really big: “In two years, that calf will be this size???” Yup, if all goes well, she will!

This is the great thing about the State Fair and the thing that drives me nuts. The people who are coming in are totally disconnected with the animal life around them. Sure they have dogs and cats, bearded dragons, an occasional parrot or rat, but knowing what the animals are where much of our food come from, they are uninformed. The great thing, we have the chance to help those people see the animals, to touch them, to be in the same place as those animals sung about in Old MacDonald or read about in Charlette’s Web.

Our six State Fair experiences have been very similar. Lots of people coming in, wide-eyed, looking at these beautiful animals with awe and wonder. We love the fact that we can help them understand the dairy breeds, Brown Swiss, and the industry as a whole. Very little kids to adults, they all are wondering what are these things?? πŸ™‚ We love the breed and believe in the industry and are more than happy to talk with just about anyone to help connect people to the heifers and cows.

It’s the least we can do! πŸ™‚