Iowa State Fair


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Iowa State Fair

11 days ending third Sunday in August
One of America's foremost state fairs, celebrating agriculture and featuring a life-sized cow sculpted out of 600 pounds of sweet butter, is held for 11 days at the fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. Attracting close to a million people each year, the fair is famous for having inspired the Phil Stong novel, State Fair, and three movies based on the novel. Will Rogers starred in the first movie. The second and third were musicals by Rodgers and Hammerstein and included the now-standard songs "It Might as Well Be Spring" and "It's a Grand Night for Singing."
The fair is also famous for its cow made out of butter. The breed represented varies from year to year. It's kept in a display case cooled to 40 degrees. The most frequently asked question at the fair information booth is, "Where's the butter cow?" (Answer: in the Agriculture Building.)
Sheep are an important feature at the fair, reflecting the fact that Iowa has more sheep farms than any other state. Sheepshearing contests are popular; champions can shear a sheep in 90 seconds. The big boar contest is also popular; the winning animal always weighs in at more than half a ton. There are other competitions as well: checker playing, horseshoe pitching, fiddling, and rolling-pin throwing.
The first Iowa state fair was held in 1854. Memorable moments in the intervening years include the spectacular crash of two trains, one labeled Roosevelt and the other Hoover, which were throttled up at opposite ends of a track. They roared down on each other, crashed, and exploded. The year was 1932, when the presidential candidates were Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The fair underwent a period of rapid change between 1880 and 1930, expanding to encompass such activities as horse and auto racing, biplane stunt-flying, high-diving horses, and auto-to-airplane transfers. The American aviator Charles Lindbergh visited the fair in 1927, soon after his triumphant nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic.
CONTACTS:
Iowa State Fair
P.O. Box 57130
Des Moines, IA 50317
515-262-3111; fax: 515-262-6906
www.iowastatefair.com
(c)
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
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She arrived at the start of the Iowa State Fair to give a speech but, at the height of campaign season, she left the campaign trail for two weeks for a military deployment to Indonesia.
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