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Just so you don’t either get too enthused or too fearful, I don’t plan to attend any more days at the fair this year… two days are enough for me right now!

But today was a pleasant day!  My wife and I left late (oh well!) with hopes essentially dashed that we would get to see John McCain.  After all, we were parking at the State Capital, taking the DART (Des Moines Area Regional Transit) shuttle, and there would be thousands there to see the Senator, right?  Well, we got on the shuttle at around 10:25, and arrived at the fair at about 10:40.  We got into the fairgrounds at 10:45 and were walking up the Grand Concourse, knowing we had missed the speech but perhaps we could catch a glimpse of him.  We never imagined (although we should have assumed) that he would get started late!  We got to the Des Moines Register Soap Box just as McCain was being introduced.

John McCain 2 Speaking

There were probably a few thousand people penned in around the area to listen to McCain, and we were about 70 feet away from him (we were right by the curb).  We got to hear the entire speech, which I thought was good, brief, Iowa focused and energy focused.  Radio Iowa covered the story nicely, and included an audio of the speech.

John McCain 1

We followed the Senator along with much of the crowd for a while, getting within about 10 feet of him.  Eventually, the entourage marched off to the Iowa Pork Producers’ building, at which point we went on about our business.

We have a basic set of places we like to go each year:

The Patty and Jim Cownie Cultural Center

Here we find some of the most wonderful photographs and fine art created by Iowans of all ages.  It is a wonderful experience to look at the beautiful artwork that has been prepared, and to see such fabulous ideas and colors expressed.  It is overwhelming because so many of the pieces are so well done!

We know a few of the artists.

One is John Neal.  John is an old friend of the family and has a wonderful way of seeing God’s beauty in the world.  He had two pieces in the Oils, Tempera, Acrylics category:

Exotic Places in My Fathers World

Childhood Exhuberence and the Kingdom of Heaven

“Exotic Places in My Fathers World” – “Childhood Exhuberence and the Kingdom of Heaven”

Another artist we know is someone we met only two days ago at a party at a friend’s home.  Her name is Jill Anderson, and she and her sister Jo are part of a local band called “exit 113“.  They play mostly old rock and roll covers and some of their own original music, and will have a CD out shortly.  Both of these young ladies were very engaging (Jo is a bass player, Jill plays alto sax and sings) and I look forward to hearing their band live sometime soon.  Anyhow, Jill also had a piece in Oils, Temera, Acrylics:

Unique Individual of Irish Descent

“Unique Individual of Irish Descent”

Okay, that’s actually all the artists we know.  I’ll add that Deanna Sellner, a co-worker of mine, had a Second Place Ribbon in Frabrics and Threads (located in the Varied Industries Building) for a Christmas stocking she made.  I don’t recall the actual category however.

We also saw a photograph that we just had to share… it has not only a baseball theme, it has a New York Mets theme (my team!).  It’s by Erin J. Kiley of Woodward, Iowa.

Mets Game Slob

“Mets Game Slob”

Here are a few shots from around the Photo Salon:

Photo Salon 1

Photo Salon 2

Photo Salon 3

Before we left the building, we caught site of this ice sculpture:

Ice Carving

Cattle Barn

After the Cultural Center, we went to the Cattle Barn for lunch… they have THE BEST HAMBURGERS ANYWHERE! And while we ordered our food, we were treated to the sight of cows being shown in the background.

After lunch, we wandered around a bit, stopped at the WOW-FM 98.3 radio studio (they are one of the big talk radio stations, featuring Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage among others) and and chatted with J. Michael “Mac” McCoy (a local conservative talk show host) for a few minutes.

Varied Industries Building

Then we headed over to the Varied Industries Building.

Varied Industries is probably my favorite place to go at the fair.  It’s like going to a hardware store or a computer store, just a lot of things I’m interesting in.  Except there are no computers or hardware.

But, there are people selling spas, trucks, home renovation work (sun rooms for instance), The Great Iowa Treasure Hunt (which we never find anything at, but probably because we don’t lose things in the first place), Sleep-Number Beds (we almost bought one today, and decided to wait a little while longer), Iowa State and Iowa Universities, Iowa Public Television, both major political parties, several religious organizations, medical supply companies, water treatment companies, ladder companies (11 years ago I bought a Little Giant… I still love that ladder!), gutters, windows, and on and on.  I stopped at the VFW booth and thanked the folks there for their service.

One of the coolest things we saw that I had not ever heard of was the Swim Spas.  They make a spa now that you can get in and swim.  The spa maintains a current to swim against, and the spa is long enough (15′ on the outside) to extend your body in a swimming motion.  And you can use it as a regular spa as well.  They’re expensive (over $20,000 from what I understood), but for some could be a real benefit.  Here’s a web site where one such product is demonstrated.

Time to go Home

Well, by the time we finished our tour of the Varied Industries Building, we were tired.  We’d been there for over 4 hours, and definitely needed to get home and take a nap.

The fair is always a lot of fun, there are a LOT more things to do than we covered here, including animal shows, concerts, talent shows, just lots of great activities!  I hope if you live in Iowa or are traveling through this week, you can take the time to enjoy a day there!

Art at the FairThe Fair

I almost forgot… just before we left the grounds, the Budweiser Clydesdales came trotting down the Concourse.  These are beautiful horses!


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