Iowa State Fair: Pickles, Pork Chops and Pink Cowboy Boots

So many acres (400), so little time. Simply put, The Iowa State Fair is awesome. Over the past few days, I've been gradually chewing off bits of the biggest state fair on the planet, and I haven't even cleaned my plate. It's immense, it's colorful, it's incredibly varied and it's wackier than your wildest dreams. It's a place where you can meet a 1,200-pound pig named "Freight Train" and then eat pork about six different ways. It's also where you might run into the Boone County Pork Princess and where everything imaginable is deep fried or on a stick.

One of the countless pork chop stands. (Kim O'Donnel)

A few scenes to give you a taste:

Location: Pirtley's General Store, over by the pickle barrel, where extra large dill pickles were for sale for $2.

KOD: How's the pickle business doing?

Mister Pickle Man: Not bad today. A little off; maybe it's the weather. What's your interest?

KOD: I'm a reporter, covering the fair.

MPM: Where?

KOD: Washington. The Washington Post.

MPM: Where's that? Washington, Iowa?

KOD: Not exactly. Back east, in Washington, D.C. Say, are those pickles crispy.

MPM: Very crispy indeed. You want a whole or a half?

A chocolate Coke, like back in the day. (Kim O'Donnel)


Location: The Coca-Cola soda fountain, at the counter.

Lady working behind the counter, who serves me my chocolate Coke: How are you enjoying the fair?

KOD: It's my first time here.

Lady: Wow! And I bet it won't be your last!

KOD: What do you like most about the state fair?

Lady: I come here for vacation every year, and it's a chance to spend time with my family. I've been coming here all my life. The fair is all I know.

Prettier in pink, dontcha think? (Kim O'Donnel)


Location: Long Creek Outfitters stall

Cowboy Boot Seller Guy: Can I help you, ma'am?

KOD, trying on a pair of pink cowboy boots: Think these fit okay?

CBSG: Let's see. Go on and stand up, and push your foot all the way to back of the boot. There you go.

KOD: I'm the furthest thing from a cowgirl, but I'm thinking these will make me feel like one.

CBSG: These are handmade, ma'am. I think you'll enjoy them.

My travel companion, Madge, who's recovered from a bad bout of pre-Iowa food poisoning, is now alive and well, and so before we head west to Nebraska, we'll stop off at the state fair so she doesn't miss out on the fun. We're headed straight for the Butter Cow this morning! Stay tuned.

By Kim ODonnel |  August 13, 2008; 9:59 AM ET MA on the Road , Travel
Previous: MA Road Trip: America's Heartland | Next: MA Road Trip: The Kindness of Strangers


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Did you buy the boots?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 1:37 PM

I used to have a pair of Pink Boots. You must be having a blast on your venture Across America!! Drive safely!! : )

Posted by: East coast | August 13, 2008 3:16 PM

Kim, I have unwillingly acquired about 500 lbs of "morro" seeds from south of the border. Can you tell me what this food item is used for, exactly?

Posted by: Jumper | August 13, 2008 3:40 PM

Kim, Get thee to the adorable and delicious treat-producing Wilton Candy Kitchen in Wilton, Iowa.

If you make it to Iowa City, go to the Cottage Bakery and you MUST eat at One Twenty Six:

Posted by: restonmom | August 13, 2008 6:00 PM

Yaaaaaaaaay Butter Cow! (and Butter Shawn Johnson) I'll be visiting it on Saturday!

Have you had a pork tenderloin sandwich yet?!

Posted by: Veggie in DC | August 14, 2008 9:44 AM

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