A fair amount of fun

Edward Leonard

It’s a part of our culture; the definitive piece of Midwestern Americana. It’s something that unites people from all across the state, and states all across the country. It’s the state fair.

The Iowa State Fair just came to a close, but others across the country are just beginning. It’s an amazing thing when you think about it; an experience unlike any other.

I recently went to one of these American extravaganzas. It was a complete sensual overload, and I submitted myself to it for about 12 hours.

I’m a devoted people watcher. I steal glances, surreptitiously watch and even play the “your team” game — a people-watching game wherein you announce “your team” to one of your friends, in order to put the greatest number of unappealing people on your friend/s team. The fair was perhaps the best place in the world to do this. There are carnies, fashion train wrecks, creepers and oddballs galore. From sandals and socks to full on kilts, everything that can be seen in America can be seen at the fair. My team was decimated.

And the people are just the beginning. It’s perhaps the most unique culinary event I’ve ever been graced with. A bucket of cookies, a plate of deep-fried alligator and a cup of frozen grapes can all be found in the same meal. And everything, I mean everything, can be deep-fried. Not just alligator, not just chicken, but Twinkies, Oreos, cheesecake, even ice cream. If it’s a food and it was there, it was dipped in grease and thrown in a frying pan. It’s truly magical.

The fair is one of the great unifiers of people. Regardless of age, race, creed or gender, the carnies will take your money. Anything a person could want is available there. The wiggle racer was perhaps my favorite vehicle ever. A small plastic children’s scooter propelled by wiggle power, meaning a kid would grab the handles and wiggle from side to side to move forward. It’s a sight to behold: An entire cavalry charge of children on red, pink and blue plastic cars, wiggling their arms like madmen and brandishing their novelty inflatable swords, which were in some cases bigger than they were. I’d imagine this was how the polish felt when they first saw the Panzers. It was intimidating to say the least.

If it could be dreamt up it was for sale: bracelets, spider-men, lightsabers and kimonos — reversible and 100 percent polyester; top quality all the way. Rides, games, mascots and Clydesdales; even Cy winter caps.

From the “Shenanniguns” western-themed comedy shows with more puns than a Carrot Top show, to the Garth Brooks concert, everyone has something they can blow their money on, everyone can find something to see, do or try.

It’s something as American as apple pie; deep-fried.