Foodventurous: Iowa State Fair 2016 (1)

My legs hurt, my arms hurt, my stomach hurts, and I am tired. Today I am recovering from a 12-hour-day at the Iowa State Fair. I know, for some people, this is a pretty amateur effort but I packed in as much fun as I could!

This day at the fair was made possible by an opportunity I had to volunteer to work a 3-hour shift at the Iowa Food and Family Project booth in the Varied Industries Building. I had just become acquainted with this organization earlier this spring and signed up for their newsletter. In exchange for working one shift, the organization provided a free admission ticket, a free parking pass, a t-shirt and a $10 food voucher! Since I was signed up for a 6-9 p.m. shift, I had the whole day to explore.

In previous years, when I have gone to the fair, I have done pretty much the same things … the animal barns, the varied industries building, the giant slide or the sky glider, a little free concert or show, and something on a stick. This year, I was in full foodie motion.

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I chose the date to volunteer based solely on the fact that it was Pie Judging Day. The Machine Shed & Gold Medal Flour Pie Judging started at 10:30 a.m.

Pie heaven!

In the next 3 hours or so, 197 pies would be judged … cream pies, berry pies, pumpkin pies, pecan pies … pies as far as the eye could see. I stayed for about an hour, long enough to get an idea of the process and observe the judges in action. The tension was so thick you could cut it with a …

Sorry, bad pun.

I think they should sell plastic forks at the door so after a pie is judged, observers could sample the pie! A dollar a fork, one fork per sample bite. I’d support that effort! I did find out that any pies not claimed by a certain time are packed up and donated to local shelters. I can only imagine the joy those pies bring.

Before I left, I made sure to find the person who would take my name and number as a possible volunteer to help shuffle pies at next year’s judging. Always plan ahead!

IMG_3943After leaving those gorgeous pies unsampled, I headed out to find new experience #2: the Pride of Iowa Wrap. Before the fair, I downloaded the Iowa State Fair Food Finder app on my phone. It not only shows you what’s available but where to find it and (why oh why) the nutritional information (don’t ask, I don’t know). It also has a special feature to tell you what’s new at the fair this year (also found here). I had looked it over ahead of time and settled on this wrap: a top three 2016 New Food Contest finalist.

“The Pride of Iowa Wrap boasts a jalapeno cheddar tortilla with pork shoulder, sweet corn salsa, and hickory smoked bacon bits. Layered with cheddar jack cheese, fresh avocado relish, chipotle aioli and crispy tortilla bites for added texture.”  

I thoroughly enjoyed this wrap in the company of a duck, a chicken, a rabbit, a pig, and a bull in a wheelbarrow. Seriously. As pictured in the first photo collage, this straw sculpture is amusingly stunning.

At this point, I was able to meet up with a good friend and her daughter. My friend had spent the morning with her coworkers on a team-building outing complete with scavenger hunt. Her daughter was there for a Vet Camp for kids. She wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up so she got to spend the morning learning about animal health issues and care. We had decided to spend the afternoon together. When they asked if I had any ideas on what to do, I said “Yes, as a matter of fact, I do!”

But I will have to share that story with you tomorrow because I am so very, very tired.

I will leave you with a hint …

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To be continued!


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Anita Hinkeldey McVey

From the farm in Alta ... to college in Ames ... to the suburbs of Des Moines in Waukee ... I am an Iowa girl through and through. I married the cute, but quiet, guy who made me laugh out loud in Statistics class and we have two awesome, but terribly sarcastic, boys. In 1999, I quit my research job to be home with those active boys. Staying home allowed me to spend more time preparing meals, trying new recipes and striving to serve healthier options for my family. Now that my boys are men ... well, "adults" anyway ... and my husband still appreciates what I accomplish at home, I have time to explore my creative side and knock "writing a blog" off my bucket list. I love trying new things, traveling, gardening, reading and clean countertops. I love baseball (watching, not playing) and concession stands. Choosing a favorite food is impossible but if I was forced to pick just one, it would be pie! I thank God that He has led me to this place. Here's to a new adventure and hopes that others will be able to use what I post to discover the benefits of family meals and living a picnic life.

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