August 20, 2012

Iowa State Fair: Deep Fried Smorgusbord & Fair Squares

If you are from the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area then you most likely have been to a Smorgusbord restaurant meaning; a plethora of various foods served buffet style. It’s an all you can eat, don’t stop til your pants pop, experience that you probably only want to participate in on special occasions.

This past week I experienced my first Iowa State Fair! I knew that it would be big since it’s rank in the top 5 state fairs that you must experience but I wasn’t sure what to expect. G and I headed down last Sunday for the day to see what it was all about. Immediately I was amazed by the grounds of the fair. Paved pathways, show and livestock building that look like museums from the outside, and food vendors in every corner. 

{ Grand Avenue}



{ John Deere Agriculture Building }


On Sunday we stay about 3.5 hours and saw as much as we could before calling it quits to head home. 3.5 hours is nothing at this scale, we missed so much but my husband does not do crowds well and so it’s better to leave then stay since he wouldn’t have enjoyed it.

We did get the chance to see the livestock barns and to my surprise met Reggie the 1,334lbs boar! Seriously this picture does no justice to the size of this guy.IMG_1262


After this we felt a need to go eat some pork so we stopped for lunch and got two pork sandwiches at $7 bucks a piece.

The next thing we ventured onto was the “Arm Wrestling” tournament… G’s favorite part of the fairs are watching these types of events. When we lived in South Dakota we always had to go watch the “Strongest Man” competition, now it’s the arm wrestling. This may sound awful but the reason he loves these events it because they come with PRIME people watching real-estate. We get up front and center to watch these people who think that are the worlds strongest man, weighing in at 140lbs, walk around psyching themselves up only to come in dead last. Mean??? I think not, they put themselves in these positions and we kindly just sit and watch. No heckling, name calling, or gestures are sent in their direction. It’s just another conversation we can laugh at later in our own private time. This was a packed audience and I highly doubt that there weren’t others in the crowd with the same ideas as G and I.



On Friday evening we went back to the fair grounds. G volunteered to work at the New Holland tent and we had also been gifted Hank Williams Jr. concert tickets for that night. I was happy to go and walk the fair grounds alone that evening because sometimes you just got to ditch the husband to experience the things you want to see. I guess that seems weird to some ladies out there but really I am quite comfortable doing things on my own whether it be shopping, eating in a restaurant, or even riding the sky ride by myself at the state fair!


As soon as I saw this I knew I HAD to go on it. I pointed it out Sunday and G said he didn’t want to so on Friday I spent the $6 bucks on my own and rode the sky ride! It’s way neater to see the fair from above. The one thing I was dumb to forget was that I HATE heights… I’m actually quite terrified and as the lift started going higher and higher I was holding on for dear life. Once I got my bearings down I took some great photos from above.

{Looking out to the Midway area}


{Farm Bureau Building}


{Des Moines, Iowa skyline}


{Bud Tent}


{Grand Avenue}


{Food Anyone}


Speaking of food…There’s an App for that! Seriously! There is an Iowa State Fair Food app that is free that tells you all the food, where to can find it on the grounds, and the nutritional value of all the items! I had to show some self control because EVERYTHING smelled heavenly. There were lots of traditional fair foods but lots that were re-invented!

Instead of just a corn dog you could get a corn dog dipped in bacon bits, then dumped, fried, and wrapped in bacon!

Why have a deep fried pickle when you can devour a pickle coated with sour cream, deep fried, and wrapped in bacon.

Speaking of bacon… how about bacon coated in chocolate in a stick?

Deep fried oreos, twinkies, BUTTER, icecream, twix, mac n cheese!

I could’ve seriously have tried it all but I didn’t try any of it. The one thing I had to buy though was a Fair Square! How cute is that name! It’s a rice crispy treat on a stick and let me tell you for $2 bucks it was WELL worth it. It had to have been a 4”x5” square of pure joy that I ate. YUM


G and I stuck to pulled pork sandwiches and before the concert shared a steak tip dinner with green beans and mashed tators. I know.. I know… “but you’re at the fair, you should eat the junk”…I wish I could’ve but I just don’t know how people do it. I ate a blooming onion and a fair square and just felt sick after eating it. My body was begging me to eat something wholesome and less greaser. That dinner hit the spot and was just enough for both G and I.

At 8pm we went to our concert and watched George Throughgood open for Hank Williams Jr. We were a little hesitant with Hank since his track record of performing a full set was on the negative side. The man can drink.

All I can say is Hank brought his A game to the Iowa State Fair and we were blown away by his talent. In the first 30 mins he played the guitar, fiddle, and piano! It’s also neat to see the performers swag on stage, Hank change his hat after every song… Why? I don’t know maybe he doesn’t like to wear sweaty hats? Maybe it’s a good luck charm? Maybe it’s a marketing thing?

Anyway, I completely support anyone buying tickets to go see this concert. You WILL get your moneys worth and will enjoy watching him perform and not just sit there and sing.


Thank you Iowa State Fair for being over the top! I can’t wait until next year… maybe then I will venture out to trying some unique fried food.

* I also just want to mention quickly that it’s pretty pricey. It was $10 per adult, $10 parking, and almost $7 per meal. This is without kids going on all the Midway rides as well. Plan to stay all day and sneak in some healthier snacks and a refillable water bottle. You will not regret it!

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