I am back home again, and boy, what a journey it was! So many delays ... I didn't pull into the garage until 2 a.m. this morning. Yuck! But I still wanted to get this trip recap up today because I need to put up the August book review tout suite, so hopefully my thoughts will be coherent. I'm surprised but not surprised that I slept until 9:40 this morning and might've gone longer except that Jasper decided to start scratching the door to make sure we didn't die. (I warned my boss I wouldn't be starting on time today.)
Anyway, you didn't come here to hear about how tired I am, right? You're here for the butter sculptures! So let's get to it!
The conference itself went really well from a work perspective. I may have talked about this here before, so I'll be brief. My company works a lot with Frank Abagnale, having him speak at events for us. (He's the person that the movie Catch Me If You Can is based on. He's amazing to listen to and has worked for the FBI now for about 40 years.)
We organized a dinner with him as the speaker and it went really well. Plus I snuck away with a signed copy of his book!
But you don't want to hear about the rest of my days spent in the exhibit hall, I'm sure, so let's get to the one thing that there is to do in Iowa: the state fair.
We went after 5pm, so it was only $6 to get in. Not bad at all. And despite how gloomy the next photo looks, the weather was actually incredibly enjoyable. There was a full day of rain the day before we went, so the temperature was 64! In August! I was in hog heaven (wacka wacka wacka ... wait till you see the rest of my pictures. *wink*)
One of the first things we did was walk through the livestock buildings. Which turned out to be a good choice because it did lightly rain for about 10 minutes, so it was perfect timing.
Dairy cows! (Watch where you step...)
There were dairy cows, meat cows (yes, several animal groups were distinguished that way) -- and in every variety you could think of including Scottish Highland Cows -- sheep, horses, goats, llamas-yes-llamas, rabbits, pigs (no poultry anymore because of Avian Flu) and even this guy...
Based on a cursory antler count, that appears to be a 14-point elk and he was big!
That's actually the one thing I regret about a handful of these photos. There really wasn't any way to show any of these animals to scale. But believe me when I tell you that I was at least 15 feet away from this guy because of the size of his pen and he still looks this big.
And speaking of big ... see the weight on this guy?
Again, way bigger than he looks. His head had to be 3 or 4 times the size of mine. He was the crowned Big Boar winner this year and if you click that link, you can see what sorts of things he eats and so on. Funny stuff.
By contrast, this guy was wee. I call him Wilbur.
Another thing I really enjoyed was looking at all of the horses. They had stalls with different breeds labeled, including a palomino, a quarter horse and this guy (I figure you don't want to see every single one):
Sadly, my entire goal in taking the next photo was to show you how big this horse was, but again, it's just impossible to tell. Some of the horses there were so incredibly tall. And, look, I know you don't measure a horse's height in feet, but since measuring in hands probably means very little to any of us, I'd guess some of them were around 7-8 feet tall.
We even slipped in to watch a free riding competition. We watched three different classes of horse/rider combinations compete before taking our leave. I took a photo of part of the Arabian lineup as they were waiting to be judged. They play live organ music to match the pace of the riding. So fun!
But, lest you think all I did was wander around taking pictures of animals (there was a calf born that very day!!), I did go see other things.
And because I felt it was important for you to see it, here is a wall of corn.
And from there, I got in the line ... yes, there was a line ... to see the cow butter sculpture. Basically life-size, maybe a little smaller.
With bonus Mr. Monopoly.
There were also some really cool ice sculptures, but really, how can they even compare? I'm totally into all this kitsch. I absolutely eat up weird roadside attractions and country fairs. I can't tell you how stoked I was that two of my colleagues wanted to go too. I would've been incredibly sad to miss out!
And then of course, after looking at all of the animals, we went to go eat...
Did I feel a little weird about it? Yeeeeeesss? But I'm pretty sure if you live in Iowa it's illegal to be a vegetarian. Pretty much all I ate while I was there was BBQ and carbs. Diet time!
Speaking of dieting, we then got directions to the booth that sells fried desserts because, seriously, can you really attend the Iowa State Fair, skip the fried Oreos and leave fulfilled?
Okay, so I didn't get the fried Oreos.
But one of my coworkers got a fried Snickers bar, the other got the weirdest item (which I would've gotten if he didn't), which was fried cherry pie on a stick...! I ordered what I felt was the next weirdest -- a fried cupcake. And believe me when I tell you that underneath the batter, that cupcake was frosted and filled with icing. No joke.
I felt pretty good about myself afterward (no sarcasm).
On our way back to the car, I got a photo of the lighted rides because they just looked so pretty. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't tell you there was a tractor pull competition that day as well because why not?
And last but not least...
Wait ... how'd that get in there?