The last four years going to the Iowa State Fair has become one of my favorite things about the summer. Before meeting BreeAnn I didn’t really know too much about the fair. But after she took me for the first time and sinking my teeth into a foot-long corndog, it was love at first bite. Sometimes I think that the Iowa State Fair is something only Iowans can truly appreciate or even understand. So when my co-teacher saw me scrolling through some of my photographs from the fair, how would I explain it?
Picture 1: A close up of golden, fried cheese curds.
“What is this?”
“Well, it’s fried cheese.” I think how ridiculous this must sound.
“Is it good quality?”
“Oh yeah, it’s delicious!”
Most Koreans’ experience with cheese includes Velveeta singles, but being next door neighbors to Wisconsin has it’s benefits. Cheese is really expensive here. Want 8 processed squares of cheese? Five dollars please. Where’s the havarti, swiss lorraine, colby jack, muenster, brie, sharp cheddar, or provolone? You can understand how American’s can struggle in a place like this.
Picture 2: The butter cow.
“And this is the butter cow.”
“Yeah, it’s all made of butter.”
“Really? Do they eat it when they are done?”
“I don’t think so, but maybe. They’ve been doing this for 100 years.”
It’s true. It’s sounds super wasteful. I mean, according to the ISF website, “600 pounds of low moisture, pure cream Iowa butter goes into making the Butter Cow each year – which is enough butter to butter 19,200 slices of toast!” So of course “do they eat it when they are done” doesn’t sound like such a strange question. But upon further research on the same website it explains that “Each year, much of the butter from the Butter Cow is stored, recycled and reused (to create the butter sculptures) for up to 10 years.” I tip my hat to Iowa for being so butter conscious.
Picture 3: Iowa’s biggest boar.
“This is the biggest pig in Iowa. It’s so fat, it can’t get up to drink water, so they just spray it in his mouth.”
“Really? And it doesn’t mind?”
“I suppose not. I think it’s too big to get up.” I mean if I weighed 1,196 pounds, I know I’d demand for water to be sprayed into my mouth too.
Picture 4: A baby pig that was just born.
“And there’s this new building just for baby animals. Sometimes you can even see a baby animal being born. Here’s a pig, here’s an emu, here’s a duck, here’s a lamb, and here’s a duck.”
“Oh, they are so cute. I think children must really like this.”
Overall, it was a really funny conversation to have. Imagine trying to explain deep fat fried butter, chocolate covered bacon, horse shows, carnival rides, flower competitions, musical performances, and everything else that is wonderful about the state fair to someone who has never been to it. And it’s not that Koreans haven’t experienced some of these things individually, but all of these things in one place seems a bit strange as I tried to tell her about it.
The more and more I talked about it, the more and more I realized how much I love everything Iowa.
A few of my favorite ISF pictures.