Now if you are not familiar, the Iowa State Fair is one of the largest in the country and the fairgrounds in Des Moines was established in 1886. In 1987 it was included on the
National List of Historic places. It covers 435 acres including 160 acres of campsites (you may be on a 10 year waiting list just to get a site). It is best know for it's sculpted 600 pound Butter Cow which has been a fair tradition since 1911 and takes 16 hours to sculpt. It hosts one of the world's largest livestock shows, the country's largest state fair foods department (more than 900 classes), and the state's largest arts show with over 600 exhibitors. Overall, almost 16,000 people enter over 60,000 entries each year.
It is also known for its food on a stick, which numbers 60 plus offerings. You can find anything from deep fried candy bars or Oreo cookies on a stick to pork chops on a stick. The most popular this year was shrimp dipped in corn meal batter and of course on a stick - now known as a shrimp corn dog. The Iowa Pork producers sell 5-6,000 pork chops (not just on a stick) daily during the Fair's 11-day run.
My favorite place to take the grand children is the Paul R. Knapp Learning Center where you can see babies being born and interacting with their mothers. Animals included in the learning center are beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine, chickens, turkeys, ducks and ostrich. What a wonderful opportunity for kids that live in urban areas.
Only in Iowa: This year the butter cow was vandalized by a group calling themselves the "Iowans for Animal Liberation" or at least they emailed the local newspaper and claimed responsibility for the act. According to them they hid in the Agriculture Building waiting for the fair to close, broke into a refrigerated room where the butter cow is displayed and poured red paint over it, painting the words "Freedom For All" on the display window. They state the blood represents 11 billion animals murdered each year in slaughterhouses, egg farms and dairies.
What? Never heard of the Iowans for Animal Liberation! Anyway, the State Fair cleaned up the mess and restored the butter cow before the building opened the next day and with a great sense of humor had t-shirts printed and for sale immediately.
Want to See More? Photos from my 6 days at the fair
Authored by +Terri Henkels
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