Hentzel: A day at the fair

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Amusement park food signs.

Caytlin Hentzel

I am a born-and-raised-in-Iowa girl, lived in the country my entire life, and this year I went to the Iowa State Fair for the first time. When people heard that I had never been to the Fair before, they were actually shocked, because a vast majority of people they knew have not gone once, but multiple times. The Fair was a great way to spend a day, despite how expensive it is.

The atmosphere was energetic, the colors were bright and even the fairgoers themselves were a form of entertainment. People sported FFA T-shirts, toted bunnies around to events and vendors in their neon shirts shouted out deals. Parents comically shepherded children on leashes already covered in sugar and sweat.

The attractions were diverse and dumbfounding with the stunt dog show, the Wild West comedy show and I personally liked the free concerts and talent shows. I was surprised to find sculptures made of canned foods and non-perishables depicting pandas, corn, pigs and a cow. Speaking of cows, there was an entire cow made out of butter, and that is something to see for sure. I was surprised when you could get literally anything on a stick, deep-fried on top of that. Snickers, Twinkies, beer and even butter. There were regular corn dogs, or even a foot-long corn dog smothered in ketchup, wrapped in wax paper. Walking around the grounds, I saw a woman pushing a stroller and sporting a T-shirt saying, “The only thing I got from the Iowa State Fair was Type 2 Diabetes.” Very fitting if you ask me.

I was excited when after a long day of walking around and eating vast amounts of food that I regretted, that the Ronnie Dunn concert featuring Steel Magnolia was about to start. The setup was great with screens if you were to the far left or right from the stage. Artists like Maroon 5, Train, Reba, Janet Jackson, Jason Aldean and Casting Crowns all provided entertainment throughout the week. The tickets sold fast for all of those concerts, but if you were lucky you could win them in a raffle, like me.

Overall, it was a great day, and I hope everyone gets a chance to go to the Fair at some point in their lives. You can spend the day walking around, trying different food and checking out the exhibits and free entertainment. With that option, you would spend around $40 per person, which includes the parking and admission. If you plan on going on the rides and seeing the concerts at the grandstand with well-known artists, the cost can escalate to $100. I know that next year I plan on saving up my spare change and laundry money in order to go.