Foodventurous: Iowa State Fair 2016 (2)

Yesterday, I shared with you the first half of my foodie adventure at the Iowa State Fair and left you with this image …

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This is a foodie bucket list item: grape stomping! At least it is for this foodie. √

When my friend, Jenna, asked if I had any ideas on what to do, I doubt she was expecting this. But when her 11-year-old daughter, Reagan, got excited, the competitive side of Jenna broke out. She even called in her dad, who was at the fair that day for Veteran’s Day, to be our “mucker”. Poor guy … his clothes will be never be the same. Sure hope our blue ribbon makes up for it!

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This free event happens 4 times a day, every day at Grandfather’s Barn, the only remaining building from the farm that occupied this land before it became the fairgrounds. It is considered one of “13 Hidden Treasurers” at the fair by the Des Moines Register. Two of these pictures (the grapes and the t-shirts … love that “on a stick” shirt) came from the Iowa State Fair Wine Experience facebook page.

In case you were wondering why, in yesterday’s post, I said my arms hurt, this is why. We were leveraging ourselves on that railing so we could stomp and smush (technical term) those grapes and it resulted in some sore muscles. No comments please. I also mentioned my stomach hurt and you probably thought it was from eating too much. Nope, it was from laughing so hard. Well, okay, so food might have had something to do with it.

You know you have true friends when they get in the bucket with you!

Shortly after this, it was time for us to head in different directions. I had a couple hours before my volunteer shift started. It was time for more food. And drink.

First stop, the Iowa Craft Beer Tent. Why?

  • shade
  • seating
  • live music
  • 48 Iowa beers on tap
  • flight options for sampling

(Guess what? They too need volunteers.)

I followed those samples with a food item that is new to the fair this year: apple fritters on a stick. It’s not pie but it comforted me all the same.

There was just enough time now for me to wander through the Varied Industries building. Here I found just the thing I needed to be cheerful and rested for my shift: a massage! Didn’t cost a thing. Two or three of the venders in the building have free trials of the chairs/machines they sell. I had a relaxing 8 minute chair massage. I opened my eyes half-way through to see two friends from our church smiling and waving at me … busted!
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To pay my dues for this great day at the fair, it was then time to check in at the Iowa Food and Family Project booth. They are the home of the giant sand sculpture, the free and cool reusable grocery/tote bags, and incredibly “Iowa-nice” people!

I didn’t get a chance to take many pictures because from 6-9 I had a non-stop line of people who wanted to play a game of Iowa food, family, and farming trivia to earn small prizes. I had no idea how many moms would be thrilled to head home with a new magnetic chip/refrigerator clip. I learned things about Iowa’s egg production, Iowa’s partnership with restaurants like Subway and Jethro’s BBQ, how to explain to someone how big an acre is, and that our kids are well-educated in what elements are necessary for plants like corn and soybeans to grow.

As the Varied Industries building closed, I walked across the fairgrounds toward the parking lot to the music of Dierks Bentley with a few awesome souvenirs from my day at the fair.

What did I learn from my day at the fair?

  1. Volunteer: not only does it make the fair so much more affordable, but you get the chance to see it from an entirely different perspective.
  2. There are so many freebies: hard-boiled egg on a stick, popcorn samples, kid camps, massages, etc.
  3. Try new things: as I was debating the purchase of one food item, my friend’s daughter said, “you can make that at home!” I moved on.
  4. Be brave: get your feet … and hands … messy!
  5. Pay attention: to where you park your car or you will be wandering the lot for at least 15 minutes looking for a white car facing west. Just sayin’ …

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