The final part of the Iowa State Fair series: The people!

Today’s blog is being done from the local brake and tire shop. My wife is at school and we have today off (for whatever reason🙄), so her car gets an oil change!

How could I talk about the State Fair without talking about the people?


Hush! One of my favorite things is people watching. I’m a man of few words, but I’m constantly watching. I look for blog ideas, I keep track of shady people, listen for those quotes to use later, and unfortunately, I scout where escape routes are available. It’s the world we live in, plus, it keeps me present in the moment. I’ve worked at keeping my phone out of my hand and this is one way of doing it, checking out who is around me!

The people in the barn are who you’d expect: hardworking, strong, no nonsense men, women, and children who are there to take care of their animals, show them, and visit with friends. One little guy just struck me. He was 3 or 4 years old, had blue jeans, plaid shirt, little boots, and a cowboy hat. He was everywhere in their string of animals. He had a smaller fork for cleaning up cow poop,.helped with feeding grain and hay, and was helping better than some of.the teenagers we saw!

His family was big into dairy, so being around the animals, working hard, and being with family is part of his DNA. It was fun to see him everyday, just puttering around!

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Fair is closed to the public, so it is pretty basic. Nothing too outlandish for sure. Lots of kids (4-H/FFA) dressed to show horses, beef, and sheep (I think). People watching gets a little boring when most look the same, which is Iowa in a nutshell (lily white could be an understatement), so when Thursday shows up, I always perk up.

One, it’s show day, so we are much more active, walking animals back and forth from the show ring. As I said a couple of blogs ago, people come to the barns to interact with the animals, so we work to keep them safe.

And two, lots of people start showing up. People of all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. The number of motorized scooters keeps growing so you see plenty of those through the barn. You’ve got strollers and wagons and walkers and people with canes and crutches. On Facebook, there was a “State Fair Bingo” page I should have printed. Mullets were out in force for sure. While I’m sure the drunks were there, we didn’t stay for Friday night, so we missed those (people in the barns are always happy for Friday night because the barns are innondated with lots of people with beer in hand). Tattoos, lots of tattoos of all kinds of shapes, sizes, characters, colors, and words. I have no issues with them and honestly, good on you. If I reach my weight goal, I will get one, regardless of how old I am! 🙂

Thursday was a free concert (with paid admission of course), so on our walk, we were hearing all this cheering can clapping, so we stopped by. We had to google the country singers name (Ian Munsick) as we had zero clue who he was. I admit, we are old, but also have zero interest in country music either, which is always a bit of a paradox coming from a small town and living in a rural area. My students know that my country music play list will be a little bit of Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Johnny Cash, and individal songs from artists (Beer for my Horses, Parking Lot Party, etc). When I tell them .0001% of what I listen to is country, some are honestly shocked. We are who we are! 🙂

And finally, there are the foodies. All the dang food out there, there are the people you hear saying, “I need a pork chop on a stick” or “I need a lobster roll (an oddity at the State Fair, but whatever)”. I love seeing what people are eating, the smiles and joy as they walk by with a funnel cake or a big turkey leg. Me? I love some ice cream from the Dairy Shack, mac and cheese bites, deep fried cheese curds, and pinapple dole whips. I wish I would have tried the fried Spam and egg sandwich (read about that one online), but after that, it’s fair food. It will be there next year!

We’ll keep doing this fair thing until it’s not fun. It is hard as we go from Irish Fest to State Fair into school, but my attitudes about school have changed. I don’t feel like my room has to be “show ready” when parents come in. They need to see that things are a work in progress, just like education is right now, and I’m ok with that.

While the State Fair (for us) is hot and dusty, it gives us the chance to get away a little bit, to shift out of that Northeast Iowa skin and just enjoy ourselves. We have that opportunity to catch up with friends, see new things, take naps in the barn (my wife takes the worst pictures of me looking old with my mouth gaping open), and just be. Between the barn, the food and the people, it will be a sad day when that part of our lives moves on.

But that’s a while down the road, so we’ll enjoy it until we can’t! 🙂