A day at the fair

So my office mates and I headed to the Iowa State Fair yesterday to promote our university. We also found some time to enjoy all the fair has to offer. This was our second trip to the Iowa Fair, having gone for the first time last year -- and we got a whole lot of sun this year, compared to last year's rainy day. 

Once we were settled in, our group mostly broke away from each other for some exploration on our own. On the lookout for something tasty to eat yesterday morning, I went for a walking taco -- a fair classic -- in a Doritos bag. And it was awesome.

I spent the morning mostly just walking the fair, checking out the sights and snapping photos of interesting scenes.

The classic cars ... 

Two goats and a turtle ...

Here, cowboys -- and cowgirls -- were guiding horses through an obstacle course of orange cones and firing pistols at balloons attached to each of the cones ...  

Though I'm not much for carnival rides any more, these areas always are a fascinating source of nostalgia and color to me ... 

A lot of corn on display ...

And a cattle show ...

I returned to our booth and worked it for a couple hours over the lunch hour before heading out on the grounds again for the afternoon.

I took advantage of a free 15-minute full-body massage in a high-tech, souped-up massage chair.

I grabbed a pork chop on a stick for my afternoon snack and supplemented it with a strawberry smoothie and later a strawberry limeade. The combination of the fruit and cold beverage were wonderfully refreshing during the hot afternoon.

I also made sure to hit the cultural center again this year -- one of my favorite destinations last year -- and spent more time taking in the photography exhibit than anything else.

On my way back to reunite with our group, I quickly walked through the livestock barns, taking in the sheep, cattle, pigs and chicken. I saw a pig about the size of a sofa; his name was Big Mac.

But before doing anything else at the fair yesterday, I saw Jeb Bush, who happened to be at the Des Moines Register's Soapbox. Our group was walking through the fairgrounds to the exhibition hall when my colleague Crystal spotted Jeb waiting in the wings of a stage area and veered off for a closer look. A couple of us followed to join the crowd and waited about 10 more minutes as the  crowd swelled behind us and Jeb was introduced by a Register editor. 

Admittedly, we didn't stick around for long. Jeb's remarks were well rehearsed and not all that inspiring. But it was fun to be part of the spectacle. ... After listening to him for a few minutes, Crystal and I rejoined our crew at the exhibition hall. I headed back onto the grounds a few minutes after that and, by that time, Jeb was already gone from the stage and the crowd was dispersing. 

Interestingly, I spotted this New York Times story this morning about Jeb's appearance at the fair yesterday, which captures my, albeit shortened, experience well.

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