It's the first day of the Iowa State Fair and I'm excited. The anticipation is based on a lifetime of memories. I remember going to the Fair as a child with my parents so I have the family traditions that started early, mixed with the most recent memories that are centered around the sheep shows my grandchildren are a part of. It's fun to reflect on the many aspects of what makes the Iowa State Fair such a memorable occasion.
As a child I remember walking hand-in-hand with my Daddy through the livestock barns and the machinery displays. His highlight of the Fair was the horse shows. He could sit for hours, while I grew tired after awhile so there were breaks for popcorn and frozen malts to help pass the time. Mama loved the food judging located in one of the first cooled buildings at the Fair. She would spend time enjoying the Bill Riley talent shows as long as there was a shade tree. We often took a packed lunch and would return to our car to eat and rest.
One early stop was in the Varied Industries building to get a free bag to carry all your Fair stuff. My mouth watered at the smell of fresh corn dogs, the sight of a cotton candy being swirled around the cardboard, and the salt water taffy stands. There was always a thirst for a root beer or a lemonade shake-up. My favorite treat of the day was taking a ride in the Ole Mill boats. It was cool and dark inside and made my visit to the Fair complete.
There was always a long walk up the hill to grandfather's barn when there was an assortment of baby animals on display. A quick tour of the antiques that never seemed to change. The gleeful excitement of catching a team of horses clip-clopping down the concrete street. Touring the mobile homes for a quick breath of air conditioned air. There were years of pushing a stroller over the endless cords and hoses in the midway and the frustration of attempting to move through the throngs of people who weren't paying attention. Even one year of nursing my two-month old son under the shade of a large tree.
The Agriculture building still holds a special spot in my heart, filled with its amazing surprises including the Butter Cow, the honey bees, the best of Iowa vegetables and floral arrangements, along with the waterless cookware demonstrations or the latest, greatest knife or fancy slicer /dicer.
Now my attention is captured by the fragrance of wood chips in the sheep barn, searching for the grandchildren's bricks out front, and finding a seat for the sheep shows where there is a good view for pictures. The Iowa State Fair never grows old, but I am growing older so I'll cherish the memories from past and present combined.
"Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart...Remember the former things, those of long ago;" (Isaiah 46:8-9).