The ISF//Nothing Compares

Attracting more than one million people from around the world each year, it's the single largest event in the entire state of Iowa as well as one of the oldest. To miss out on such an affair while visiting 'home' would simply have been a travesty.

I'm talking about the Iowa State Fair (ISF), of course!
The Iowa State Fair is the country's most famous fair, and often the national media rank the fair as one of the top events in the country.
Food on a stick? Check.
Every food imaginable, FRIED? Check.
A never ending sea of food vendors? Check.
Cows sculpted of butter? Check.
(My life obviously revolves around food.) 
Some of the biggest livestock you'll ever see? Check.
Carney rides and games? Check.
A line up of Grand Stand performances that will knock your socks off? Check.
I mean, come on, how does that not sound like the best time ever? While I adore the Iowa State Fair my mom doesn't necessarily share my enthusiasm. However, Grandma Kathy was a champ and tolerated the fair so I could share the experience with Marcus.

Before I go any further, I have to confess that I took approximately 3,918,427 fair photos. That probably comes as no shock. However, this post is pretty photo heavy. Consider that your warning.

I purposely didn't eat much the day of the fair. I wanted the FULL experience of eating my way through the fair grounds. And, that is exactly what I did.
The turkey leg. 99.9% of the reason I couldn't wait to bust through the fair gates.
I'm not even ashamed at my selection of goods: A turkey leg the size of my head, some fried Oreos (yep, they were insanely good), a Boulevard Wheat, and Dutch letters. But, don't worry. I was too full to eat the Dutch letters AT the fair. I was wise and waited until later in the evening - after we'd left - to eat one (or two) of those. There wasn't a single inch of space left in my belly, but had there been I would have thrown some cheese curds in for good measure. Next time…

Our second stop, and a MUST SEE at the fair was the butter cow. It's literally a cow. Made of butter. Along with some other sculptures. Again, made entirely of butter.
There was a Field of Dreams theme going on this year, hence all the Field of Dream references: "Is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa" (bottom left), the two baseball players (bottom middle), and "If you build it they will come," (right).
The sculptures have to remain in these glass cases, which are refrigerated, or they would obviously melt. And, those cases which keep the figures nice and intact also create a pretty neat glare when photos are taken. 
Let's be real for a hot minute. Marcus could not have cared less about the butter cow. He'd been in a car for two hours, napped, and eaten. Just look at that pouty face. Kid was ready to bust loose.

I obliged in the little man's wiggly self and did what any good mother would do.
I took him to the midway.
From there we payed way too much money to ride all the little rides that fair dreams are made of.
 He looks so serious when he's having fun. But, I promise he had fun.
Then it was time to stop hemorrhaging from the wallet and leave the carnival.
A family friend was working a little area designed specifically for kids, so we had to check it out.
This hands on exhibit was so beyond awesome. While it may have been a little over Marcus' head this year, I'm sure the next time we visit the fair he will find it as cool as I did (and I thought it was freaking awesome).
The "farm" had all these little stations that kids went through. It sort of broke down and simplified how a farm operates. I thought it was the neatest. I should have been a farm girl. 
 From planting seeds, to gathering produce, to collecting eggs, and milking cows…
 There was even a tractor ride to transport the goods.
And at the end of the production line was "money" that each participant could use to purchase one item from the General Store. There were apples, and cartons of milk, string cheese, and the like. My kid picked the Bomb Pop. Smart move little man. Smart move.

Our last stop at the fair was in the birthing building. Probably my favorite of all the stops (ok, I'm kidding, the food was my favorite, obviously). This particular building educated fair-goers on how baby animals are born, and if lucky enough you might have even witnessed such an event (it's probably for the best we didn't see any live births during our visit, how would I explain THAT to a 2-year old?).
What we did see were a bunch of babies. It's a toss up if I loved it more than Marcus.
We saw baby chicks, baby ostriches, baby lambs, baby ducks and more. But the piglets and calves were hands down the showstoppers for us (those little pink piggies and those big brown eyes are exactly why I can't eat pork chops or hamburgers…).

Our very last Midwestern adventure before retuning back to Los Angeles was the great Iowa State Fair, nothing compares! We could not have ended on a higher note.


  1. The FOOD -- I'm salivating. And those cute farm animals with Marcus, melt!

  2. how fun! I wish our state fair was closer because I'd definitely go!

  3. You had me at fried oreos. Sign. Me. Up.

  4. not going to lie, J and I ALMOST went to the ISF for our honeymoon bc it is soo popular! The North Shore won but I do dream of going to the ISF someday.
    I love the butter cow! here in MN, we have the Princess Kay of the Milky Way pageant for 12 county dairy princesses and they each get their heads sculpted out of butter!

  5. We didn't make it to the fair this year. It's such an awesome place. You definitely documented the highlights!

  6. That makes me miss the Missouri State Fair. We had a Butter Cow also. The Florida State Fair is in February so I have a few months to wait to see what my new state's fair is like.

  7. Should have been a farm girl says the Cali girl! ;) We went to the Texas State Fair and I thought it was sorta lame. But don't tell any true Texans that, they will kick my ass.

  8. Yay!!!! So so glad you had so much fun! Ahh, the food! Gimme gimme!!! It already seems too far away again! Great pics!

  9. That last pic is my fave of all the things!!! I want a cow! Not one made of butter, although ahha I love that. Life made! moment right there. Who all can say hey I saw a butter cow! That little farm area..WOW! That is SO cool. I'm fan girling. Such a cute idea. Bomb pop...definitely the right choice. This might be my fave of all the fair posts I've seen! shh don't tell.

    i love the fair. love love love. even though when i am there i probably swear more than a sailor and could punch a million slow pokes in the rear.
    by the way, could you BE any prettier?! love this braid on you!

  11. That little area for the kids is totally awesome and I love that Marcus bought a popsicle! The butter cow is kinda cool/kinda creepy - not sure what to think. However your food choices were stellar! Fried oreos? I can't even imagine! The baby pigs and baby cows are so cute! Looks like an awesome day and totally worth the 2 hour drive!

  12. reminds me SO much of our Minnesota State fair- which started today! I cannot wait!

  13. So I'm sure you know that I have the biggest smile on my face right now =)

  14. OMG if those baby pigs aren't the cutest thing I have ever seen?!?! I want one! Fair food is something I look forward all year... definitely agree to it being the best part of the fair! I am so jealous of Marcus riding all the fun rides. Myles will only do the carousel and train. Hopefully soon he will be more into the bigger, cooler ones.