The 2021 Iowa State Fair ended on Sunday. As of Saturday, the attendance for 10 days was 994,489, so with the last day over one million people attended this year. I want to share a few more of our favorite things to see.
I mentioned the produce in the Agricultural Building last week. But the biggest draw is the butter cow. Every year since 1911 there has been a cow, weighing 500 pounds or more, sculpted out of butter. There is always another butter sculpture as well. It may be political, as we are known for the caucuses. Or it might be a pop-culture theme. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the giant slide, it has been sculpted in butter this year. See photos here. Another favorite in the Ag Building is a free hardboiled egg on a stick from the Iowa Egg Council.
As you walk across the grounds you may see street musicians, clowns or you can stop for a rest and watch the chain saw artists. In the Varied Industries Building you will find all kinds of businesses selling their products: hot tubs, siding, roofing, water softeners, cell phones, pots & pans, swing sets, furniture, etc.
The Elwell Family Food Center is where you will find the food competitions: cakes, jams, pickles, pies, breads, chili, etc. There is even a competition for individuals with special needs. It is sponsored by Look Cook and Eat and must contain corn. Matthew’s entry in 2019 was a sweet corn pie.
And, did I mention there is food at the fair? Two hundred food stands and over 80 items on a stick. There is a pre-fair competition each year to decide what new food items will be at the fair. The competition is fierce and the results much anticipated. There are some who think the best part of the fair is the food! Check out everything available here.
So here is a review of the yummy fair food we created this week…
In the early years of the Iowa State Fair the main thoroughfare was lined with permanent church food stands. With overhead costs and staffing issues, all have closed except one. For 72 years, over 200 church members of the West Des Moines United Methodist Church have prepared and served food to fair goers and raised money for a variety of causes.
Monday Fair Food Day #5: Our virtual trip to the fair tonight included Walking Tacos from The West Des Moines United Methodist Church food stand, a Diet Coke and shaved ice (a snow cone) just like the Olde Tyme Kettle Corn stand sells.
(Prices from the State Fair App: Walking taco $7, Soda $3, shaved ice $3 = $18 / person)
Tuesday Fair Food Day #6: In 1946, Carl Cardaman opened a food stand at the SW corner of the Ad Building. Years later, Carl’s Gizmo, a sandwich with Italian sausage, ground beef, mozzarella cheese and a special sauce on an Italian roll was created. His daughter Carla Wood now runs the stand and has also taken it to our rival, the Minnesota State Fair. Tonight, we are enjoying a copycat Gizmo, A & W Root Beer and a ‘Dairy Barn’ Ice Cream Cone.
(Prices from the State Fair App: Gizmo $11, A & W Root Beer $4, Dairy Barn ice cream cone $5 = $20 / person)
Wednesday Fair Food Day #7: A few years ago, one of the new foods on a stick was sweet chili shrimp. Unfortunately, only shrimp corn dogs are available now. So, I recreated one of my favorites from the past. On the menu…Sweet Chili Shrimp on a stick, Sweet Potato Fries, pickle on a stick, water and we made copycat Bauder’s Peppermint Bars with homemade peppermint ice cream.
(Prices from the State Fair App: Zag’s Po Boys Shrimp corn dog $10, sweet potato fries $6, pickle on a stick $2, water $3, Bauder’s Peppermint Bar $6 = $27 / person)
Thursday (Doughday) Fair Food Day #8: Out of the 200 food vendors at the Iowa State Fair, Roy has two favorites. The Iowa Pork Producer’s and the Bud Tent. I found the recipe for pork chops on a stick on the Pork Producer’s website and the French cut chops at a fairly new butcher shop, Old Station Craft Meats, in Waukee. So, tonight we are enjoying a pork chop on a stick(grilled by Matthew), salad on a stick, a Bud Light and for Doughday we made elephant ears.
(Prices from the State Fair App: Iowa Pork Producer’s Pork chop on a stick $10, salad on a stick $5.50, elephant ear $7, Bud Tent-Bud Lite $7 = $29.50 / person)
Friday (Fruit Pizza) Fair Food Day #9: In keeping with fruit pizza, I made an Olive and Bruschetta Pizza…my pan crust topped with bruschetta, mozzarella, Parmesan, prosciutto, Kalamata olives, red onion, shaved Parmesan, garnished with fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic glaze with a Summer Shandy to quench our thirst. For dessert Blue Ribbon Ice Cream Bars-they may not be The Wonder Bar from the Iowa State Fair, but close enough. (By the way, did you know olives are a fruit? Related to cherries, peaches and mangoes.)
(Prices from the State Fair App: 2 slices of pizza $8, Wonder Bar $5, Summer Shandy $7 = $20 / person)
Saturday Fair Food Day #10: Have you ever seen anyone walking around the fair gnawing on a giant Turkey leg? Well, tonight’s dinner is a turkey leg, grilled sweet corn, a popsicle and a watermelon Moscow mule. (I confess, the 1 1/2-pound turkey leg was for the picture only. We split it three ways.)
(Prices from the State Fair App: Turkey leg $12, Iowa sweet corn $7, Popsicle $2, Moscow Mule $7 = $21.50 x 3)
Sunday Fair Food Day #11: One last day for some fair food. A pulled pork sandwich and curly fries inspired pizza…my pan crust topped with BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese, Parmesan, pulled pork, red onion, mozzarella and topped with curly fries. And an ice tea.
(Prices from the State Fair App: Pork sandwich $8, curly fries $7, ice tea $2.50 = $25 / person)
Well, we made it through another year at the Iowa State Fair, virtually! Between watching the highlights on PBS and recreating some of our favorite fair foods, we almost felt like we were there. See you next week…