Iowa State Fair 2011. I have been counting down the days and was overjoyed to be able to go with Jake. With him being a Des Moines native, and having worked the Fair for five years in his teens, I knew I would be in good hands. I was up super early on Sunday and had a difficult time sitting still during church. (Although I will say that listening to Jake play his guitar and sing and made the wait worth it.)
Jake and I had discussed prior to our trip what our favorites foods were and which new ones we wanted to try. Our goal was to buy one of each item and share, so that we wouldn’t get too full and have room for more. We also planned the day out so that we were there over the lunch hour and — if our plan worked out right — over the dinner hour, too.
Going to the Fair on Sunday made me a little nervous thinking of all the people and crowds we would endure, but it wasn’t that bad. As an added bonus, the weather was absolutely beautiful.
Our first stop was the Crescentis stand. My sister-in-law had just told us about this sandwich on Friday, boasting it as her all-time favorite fair food. We had to check it out.
A Crescentis “works” sandwich has pastrami, capicolla and ham with shredded mozzarella cheese. Everything is placed between a fried crescent roll. The stand offers a spicy sauce (no clue what was in this) to pour on top, which only made the sandwich that much better. Mouth-watering delicious. I couldn’t get enough! After taking a couple of bites, Jake and I headed to the root beer stand and found a shady spot to sit to finish our lunch. Jake LOVES the root beer offered at the fair and had to have a glass to wash down the delicious sandwich.
After finishing our sandwich, we both agreed that we wanted something salty. Heading down food row, we spotted the pickle stand and ordered a “Pyro Dawg”. The Pyro Dawg is a pickle spear rolled in a spicy cream cheese mixture and rolled in pastrami. OH MY GOD. This was phenomenal. Now, I have had cream cheese pickle bites before, but never a spicy one. I immediately decided that this is one appetizer I am going to recreate at home.
Letting our bellies settle a bit, we headed to the Cultural Center to check out the Fair’s photography, art and sand sculpture. The photographs were amazing, the art was inspring, and the sand sculpture was massive. I have to admit that I have never been to the Cultural Center before and was excited to see the creativeness of others. Watching the sand sculpture artists at work was quite impressive; all of the intricate detail was just breathtaking.
Next up: Livestock. I love walking around seeing all of the animals and getting a real feel for what it would be like to be around a farm. Seeing the award-winning boars was also pretty cool.
Now that we walked off some of the calories from our fried bread sandwich, our next stop was the infamous deep-fried butter on a stick and deep-fried Snickers bar stand.
Jake and I timed our wait in line and it was pretty close to 45 minutes. I was able to watch the lady make these bad boys and was quite impressed. The cold butter is cut in wedge fashion, with a stick being put in at the thicker end. The wedge is then dipped in the batter and fried. The hot dessert is topped with cinnamon icing.
My initial thoughts when biting in to this dessert was that the batter almost tasted pancake-y. The butter oozed out on to the boat as it had melted inside. I have to admit that at first I didn’t care for it. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but just a doughy treat with a lot of butter. I will say I was very impressed with the inventor to be able to create a batter that was able to hold the butter inside and not have it ooze out during the frying process.
Next up, deep fried Snickers bar. Three years ago, this was my favorite item at the fair. This year, not so much. It actually made me like the fried butter better. I am still undecided as to if the dough wasn’t fried enough, or if I just wasn’t feeling the melted snickers bar inside. We washed down the fried sweet treats with another cold glass of root beer.
Now that our bellies were officially about to burst and I was fairly certain I was going to have a heart attack at any moment, we headed to the Agriculture building to see the infamous butter cow. The butter cow sculpture was impressive, although I held a lot of confusion as to the long line for people to walk past the glass to observe, when you could simply stand back a few feet and see just fine. (Sorry about that glare… unavoidable).
Jake and I decided to head upstairs and try out the Honey Lemonade. Jake loved it…
Moving on, Jake and I headed to the Varied Industries Building, the market under the grandstand and then caught a ride on the Skyglider. Taking a break from walking around and enjoying the sights of the fairgoers from up above was peaceful.
At the top, Jake and I walked back down to the pork chop on a stick stand. Jake has been professing his love for the pork chop on a stick for days leading up to the Fair and adamant that I needed to try one. Delicious! The pork chop was moist, juicy and had fabulous flavors.
It had been close to 5 hours now that we had been at the fair and we weren’t quite done yet. Jake and I decided to get another Pyro Dawg (one for each of us this time) because they were just that dang good. We then hit up THE cheese curd stand, a personal favorite of mine. Jake and I were not disappointed with these golden cheesy nuggets of goodness.
At this point Jake and I were stuffed to the brim, had seen what we wanted to see and ready to head home.
A personal record for myself. A 5 1/2 hour trip to the Iowa State Fair, 7 different foods, and 2 different drinks. (It’s probably a good thing I started running). 🙂
I have to say that although we spent a lot of money, it was a fantastic time. Jake and I agree that we probably won’t be going all out at the Fair like this every year, but had a blast and enjoyed trying new foods together and sharing our favorites with one another.
What items at the fair are a must for you or an item that you are dying to try?