“You’ve never been to the fair before have you?”
Those were the words that I heard on Saturday morning as I told a friend that I’d “see him soon” at the Iowa State Fair. It was obvious that I had no idea what I was doing. He then proceeded to give me very specific instructions on where to park and what gate to use to enter the fair along with a very detailed description of the red tractor where we’d meet. I was overwhelmed already and I hadn’t even left my house.
When I got there I was thankful that he had been so specific. I was lucky to be shown around the fair by a Des Moines native who knew where everything was situated. I was handed a red ticket and before I knew it I was sliding down the Giant Slide on a burlap sack. I was then handed a buttered corncob on a stick and I followed my guide around the fair being very careful not to lose him in the crowd. We wandered from the butter cow to the livestock pavilion, to the varied industries building, to the cultural center, to the cattle barn. I was told that I had to have a sandwich from the Crescentis stand, a hand dipped corn dog, and lemonade shake-up. I also had to ride the Double Ferris Wheel and the Sky Glider. Hours later I was not only full but over stimulated and a completely turned around. I wish that I had been warned about the fair. There’s way too much to see in just one day. No wonder people camp out for all 11 days of the fair.
My family is visiting me in Des Moines for the first time this week and I can’t wait to bring them to the fair. I’m going prepare before we go. We’re going to have empty stomachs and a plan of action. You really have to be strategic about planning out your day at the fair so that you don’t end up wandering from one end of the grounds to the next. Maybe one day after living here for many years I’ll stroll the fairgrounds with confidence but right now I’m a little lost. Let me know if you have any tips, as you’re the experts on the fair. Any helpful hints and suggestions are greatly appreciated. I’m looking forward to going back for more.
Annick Sjobakken is a Brooklyn transplant who likes long bike rides, loud music, and taking photos. Follow Annick on Twitter @annickmarie and Instagram @annickmarie. Also follow her personal blog Bushwick to Beaverdale.