State Fair Favorites



1. HE READ THE BLOG. Ben totally knew what I was up to with the pumpkin cake meatballs and even went so far as to put a mangled ball up to his lips (…) before saying, “Did you really think I wasn’t going to read your post???”

Daaaaamn! I had the video camera rolling and everything!

He’s been so busy at work lately that I figured he wouldn’t have a spare moment to check it – but he did and completely turned the tables on me. Darn that faithful, supportive husband of mine. ;)

2. Fellow wanderers: I forgot to share my favorite travel blog of all time when I posted My Wanderlist the other day: Youngs Around The World. My friend’s sister and brother-in-law took a year and a half to travel the world in ’07-’08, and chronicled their entire journey. Their writing style is incredible, and you really feel like you right there with them the whole time. Start reading from the beginning and prepared to get HOOKED.


Today Ben and I hit up the Iowa State Fair – whee!


The state fair is a HUGE deal around here – it’s even in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

cover book

I’ve gone ever single summer for as long as I can remember. Nothing really changes from year to year, but it’s tradition and you have to go to see your favorites.


An eat them too! Ben and I made an intense beeline for the nearest corn dog stand as soon as we stepped inside the fair grounds.


I eat one corn dog a year, and it’s always at the Iowa State Fair.


Hand dipped in sweet, crispy cornmeal batter, fried to a golden crisp,


and topped with globs and globs of ruby-red ketchup.

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The cornmeal batter to hot dog ratio was like 4-1 on this bad boy!



SO worth feeling like crap afterwards!!!

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Next we went off to find some animals to look at.


The Big Bull was up first.


“Bubba” was MASSIVE,


and “Tiny” was anything but.






I grew up going to the state fair, so walking around barns looking at different animals seems totally normal to me.


I’m curious to know what those of you who grew up differently think.


Is this weird?! :)







Well, we sure like it. :)


One of my favorite attractions at the fair is the Agriculture Building.


They have all the best produce contest entries on display.


Best corn, onions, tomatoes, beets,


cucumbers, apples, eggplant, etc.

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It’s total eye candy!


As Ben and I were perusing the produce, we noticed a HUGE line snaking around the inside of the entire building. What in the world…?


Oh, right…

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it’s the 100th anniversary of the state fair Butter Cow, and everyone was dying to take a look. Yep – she’s all butter, baby! ;)


I was feeling rather parched at this point, so we stopped to get some Honey Lemonade just up from the butter cow.


It looked SO refreshing,


and tasted juicy and sweet with just the right amount of honey flavor. Yum!


Ben had a must-have-fair-food list a mile long, so we headed back out to the food stands to keep chipping away at it next.


Turkey time!


Doesn’t he look like such a caveman with this thing?! ;)


Me like turkey.


Me gnaw on leg.




Ok, call me a cavewoman, because I also dove in. WOW – this was my first turkey leg ever, and it was so delicious.

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Smokey, juicy and bursting with flavor.


We were enjoying our leg o’ turkey when I looked over and noticed another gigantic line to our right.


Upon further inspection, we realized we were sitting right in front of the DEEP FRIED BUTTER stand.


I know. I’m scared too.


Deep fried butter is new to the fair this year, and apparently they take a frozen half stick of butter, batter it, fry it, then sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar. We watched this guy devour his, and melted butter was literally squirting out the end and all over his arms. AHHHahahahanooo!!!


Ben was this close to joining the line, but we both agreed that we just…couldn’t…and got warm chocolate chip cookies instead. :)


The fair’s mini chocolate chip cookies cannot be replicated at home.


Soft, warm, squishy and melty – they are everything that is right about chocolate chip cookies!


Not healthy…


but also not fried butter.


I’d say that’s a win! ;)


Woo – what a day! Fun, familiar sights, and once-a-year fair-food indulgences. Usually I go a wee bit overboard and throw some mini donuts into the mix, but I was able to refrain this year. Feeling good. :)


Off to relax before the start of another week! Hope you had a wonderful weekend! :D


What’s your favorite fair food to indulge in?

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  1. I wish we had a fair like that in Alabama! I haven’t been to a fair since I was little but I always had to get a funnel cake when we would go. Fried dough and powdered sugar just taste so good.

  2. Deep fried butter TOTALLY GROSSES ME OUT. So glad you and Ben steered clear! ;) Cotton candy is my fav fair treat- or fried dough!

  3. Julie 08.14.2011

    On Friday morning, a lady called in to the radio station I listen to on my way to work and was talking about the new fried butter at your fair…sounds gross. There is no way I’d be able to do it. But I’m from Ohio and I love looking at the animals at our fair too!

    • MOM 08.14.2011

      Julie-our whole family is in Ohio and that’s where all our children were born. I always have said that the Ohio State Fair is the only other fair that rivals Iowa’s! We HAD to have the string fries with vinegar and salt AND the family stand that served custard creme-filled Creme Puffs from Synders? – I think:)

  4. Liz 08.14.2011

    Dh & I were at the fair yesterday. My first time and Dh’s first time in like 20 years. Unfortunately neither of us were that impressed. We have some pretty good county fairs around here, so the state fair just seemed like a county fair on steroids. Plus the fact that it was crazy busy yesterday. Literally a sea of people. We couldn’t get over the fact that certain areas of the fair felt like you were walking through a grease cloud. I did try a deep fried snicker bar and got to see the butter cow, so I was all good.

    I can cross it off my list though. I have the same book!

  5. Carrie 08.14.2011

    Fried pickle spears, deep fried oreos and I’m definitely trying the deep fried cheesecake!

  6. Love it! I just recently went to the Wisconsin State Fair and it seems pretty similar, though the fried butter you saw is more insane than anything I found!

  7. Katie 08.14.2011

    That last picture made me laugh!

    I don’t think I could do fried butter either, that is just too much, even for me! I would however like one of those fuzzy baby ducklings. I’m sure my husband wouldn’t mind ;)

  8. jad18 08.14.2011

    Funnel cake! Good for you for skipping the fried butter. We nicknamed it “heart attack on a stick”

  9. TEAR! This makes me miss the Minnesota State Fair so much!! I was a die-hard state fair go-er and even brought my 4-H projects (pigs included) to the state fair and stayed overnight on the grounds. The Alaska State Fair doesn’t even compare!

  10. Betsey 08.14.2011

    I’m just like you and head to the corn dog stand first. Once in a while I indulge in cheese curds, but I can usually only eat two or three. I’m from MN and mostly people are just intrigued about what will be the “new food on a stick” each year.

  11. Dawn Marie 08.14.2011

    I Went to the Ventura County fair a couple weeksago, today is actually the last day! Anyway.. I had funnel cake for the first time. I also wanted a turkey leg but passed and next year I am not passing that up.

    I love the animals and I wish I was still blogging so I could show you the Alaskan Pig Races, so darn fun.

    Now this is American and its a tradition. I love the fair! Nothing wierd about it. I hadn’t been in 20 years, shame on me!

  12. Dawn Marie 08.14.2011

    Oh we saw Deep Fried Kool Aid. Who knew?

  13. Amy 08.14.2011

    It’s our State Fair over here in Brisbane Australia at the moment too! Except we call it the Ekka. I have no idea why actually :)
    Those chocolate chip cookies look gorgeous.
    My must eat food is a strawberry ice cream that you can only get once a year at the Ekka. The cone is filled with chopped up strawberries and then topped with a scoop of vanilla and a scoop of strawberry ice cream :) Yummy!
    My favourite part though is going through all the cattle and horse sheds and getting to pat the animals and breathe in the musty hay smell. For a city kid this is as close as I got to a farm growing up :)
    I’ll have to put the Iowa State Fair on my travel list :)

  14. kacey 08.14.2011

    I love state fairs! This post is so much fun, thanks for sharing! I have never heard of deep fried butter, and I’m not sure what I think of it…but I am curious!

  15. shandy (@webgals) 08.14.2011

    For some reason, I HAVE to get the giant tenderloin every year. I always think I’ll trying something new, but after that….I’m done.

  16. Rachel 08.14.2011

    Would you believe I’ve never been to a state fair? Never went while growing up in OH, and I’ve yet to go to the South Dakota state fair. There are actually 2 rather huge fairs out here–The state fair out in Huron, and then the Sioux Empire fair in Sioux Falls. Never been to either one. I have, however, made it a point of going to the Brookings Summer Arts Festival every year that I’ve lived here, and it’s always been for the food. Last year I tried a deep-fried Snickers bar…And while I was a little scared of it when I first heard about it, it was surprisingly “light” tasting for a deep-fried candy bar. I love butter, but I don’t think I could do deep-fried butter. I think that crosses some kind of line.

  17. Jane 08.14.2011

    Haha! I was going to ask you if he checks your blog!! Darn it… Your Iowa State Fair is like a giant version of the one I went to in my tiny hometown. So yours doesn’t seem odd to me :D I wasn’t a farm kid, but grew up in a rural area. Almost all of my friends lived on farms, so I am used to that kind of thing! I’m sorry, but deep-fried butter is a new low….ick! I haven’t even tried the deep-fried twinkies or snickers. It just sounds so over-the-top!! I do love the onion blossom, but can never eat very much of it. Same goes for funnel cake :)

  18. Nancy 08.14.2011

    My question is, what does the back of Ben’s shirt say, if the front says The Hold Steady?

    • anna 08.14.2011

      It’s a band.

  19. Deanna 08.14.2011

    I grew up in Iowa and LOVED the state fair! I also lived in Minneapolis for a while, and the MN state fair claim to fame is the deep fried Snickers Bar! Never tried it but have to admit, sounds kinda (gut wrenchingly) good!

  20. stacy 08.14.2011

    i LOVE checking out all the animals …. its my favorite thing to do at the fair!!! well, that and eating my yearly corndog like you! :)

  21. Fran 08.14.2011

    I go to eat “Cresinti’s” don’t know about the spelling but anyway it is homemade bread that you can get cheese, meat, cream cheese & cinn. and of course it is fried but oh so good!!!
    And pineapple whipped ice cream cone!!!!

  22. sara 08.14.2011

    awesome post. LOVE the pic of Ben at the end… you saved the best for last!!

  23. Fran 08.14.2011

    Did you try the red velvet funnel cake???

    • Julie S. 08.15.2011

      My daughter & I are going on Wed. & that’s the 1st place we’re headed! :)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 08.15.2011

      NO :( :( :( I really wanted to but was too nauseous from my corn dog :(

      • Fran 08.15.2011

        I was hearing alot of passers by saying how wonderful they were. Might have to go back and try one!!!!

  24. anna 08.14.2011

    I’ll never forget the time I ate a corndog, rode the double ferris wheel with my (five year younger) sister, and proceeded to get off the ride and vommed EVERYWHERE. I don’t do so good on rides, lol. She could not stop laughing. Brat.

    Still, I miss the fair. Did you see the funky shaped produce? I forget what they call it exactly. Gimme a lemonade shake-up, and some funnel cake any day! (Okay, once a year is probably enough.)

    • Angela 08.14.2011

      When I went to the Sweet Corn Festival one year as a kid I rode one of those double ferris wheels and got vomited ON by someone who had obviously just partaken in the free sweet corn. AND they wouldn’t stop the ride for us. Not one of my favorite experiences either needless to say :P

      • anna 08.14.2011

        Oh no, that sounds terrible! Blech!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 08.15.2011

      OMG to this entire chain of comments!!!

  25. Mandy 08.14.2011

    Being from Wisconsin walking around looking at the animals is very normal. Any fair, county or state, requires walking through the barns. I guess I just assumed it was normal, but it probably isn’t.

  26. Oooohhh, I love fair food! That corn dog looks amazing!

  27. Christine 08.14.2011

    my two must haves are a turkey leg and fried Oreos (which taste just like warm brownies fresh outta the oven!)

  28. Lindsey 08.14.2011

    I eat one corn dog a year too, at our local fair! Always worth it :)
    Those ducklings are too cute! The animals are always my favorite part of the fair.
    My favorite fair food is mini donuts!

  29. dana828 08.14.2011

    We were there today, too! First time ever in the 16 years we’ve lived in IA. The kids’ favorite thing was the stunt dog show–so fun! We spent the rest of the time checking out all the animals and indulging in fair food. Foot-long corndog, fried pickles, cheese curds, red velvet funnel cake, chocolate covered cheesecake-on-a-stick, chocolate covered key lime pie-on-a-stick, & Blue Bunny ice cream. Sounds like a ton, but we only had one of everything split between the 4 of us, so it was manageable! :)
    I grew up going to the MN State Fair, and my favorite was always the frothy ice cold milk they sold for 10¢ a cup!

  30. Cosmos 08.14.2011

    My favorite are the mini-donuts! I don’t know if I like watching the process more or eating them! I’m from Minnesota and our State Fair sounds a lot like Iowa’s.

  31. Lori 08.14.2011

    The Minnesota State Fair starts in a few weeks and I’m already thinking of all of the food I want to eat. Fried pickles are at the top of my list. Along with cheese curds, Sweet Martha’s cookies (if I feel like standing in an insanely long line), ice cream, beer tents, so much good junk food!
    I also love the Miracle of Life barn and seeing the new baby animals.

  32. Gail 08.14.2011

    I love the strawberry ice cream sold by the band-boosters (Johnston or Urbandale, I can’t remember) at the Agriculture Building.

  33. I am a total sucker for Funnel Cakes! Yes, they’re drenched in sugar and deep fried to the max, but just a few bites is worth it :)

  34. A.J. 08.14.2011

    I must go to the fair and eat a corndog with lemonade. I do love fried food once in awhile.

    I don’t think fried butter is as extreme as it has been made out to be. If you subtract out sugar and white flour, the cookies you ate ARE butter. At least fried butter is low sugar. Ok, actually I wouldn’t eat fried butter either, but I felt like somebody needed to defend it a little. ;)

  35. colleen 08.14.2011

    Looks like so much fun. Haven’t been to the state fair in 13 years. Always have to get a funnel cake – eating only half – and a corn dog. Nothing else fried for me thanks – those two do the trick with some lemonade.

  36. Amanda 08.14.2011

    Bauder’s Peppermint Bars!!!! Must have them!

  37. Angela 08.14.2011

    Soup in a bread bowl and fried dough tie for my fave! I have SUCH a craving for both now after this post!!

  38. Rachel 08.14.2011

    If you like the corn dogs at the Iowa State Fair, then you would LOVE the Pronto Pups at the Kansas State Fair! Pronto Pups are my guilty pleasure at the fair, maybe it’s the crunchy cornmeal breading?

  39. robin 08.14.2011

    OMG..that deep fried butter..whoa!!!!!….I use to show horses at our state fair in raleigh NC…I can smell it now (the fair grounds)….a mix of popcorn , sweet cotton candy and pasture..yeh I said pasture..that dew dipped grass smell combined with the most delicious sweet salty smell of fairground food..just wonderful memories..hopoe you and Ben enjoyed yourselves!

  40. Daniela 08.14.2011

    Went to my first state fair last week (Wisconsin) and loved it! Ate soo much, loved the cheese curds and massive corn on the cob and the pig races were soo cute! So much fun!

  41. Katie 08.14.2011

    The fair looks great! I had a com teacher in undergrad who was from Iowa, and every day she would tell us a fact about Iowa to get class started. Her first fact was about the fair and the butter cow! I also enjoy looking at all the animals (of course I just finished an elective whence I spent every day amongst 7000 head of cattle), especially the cattle, pigs, and alpacas. That corn dog made me really hungry! Hope I can get one at the Kansas State Fair this year! I once went to a fair that had salad on a stick, but alas I did not endeavor to find out anything about it…perhaps google will have an answer for me. With all the produce they should try to make something healthy, right? :)

  42. I absolutely love the Mn State Fair! I look forward to it every year, and save up my money and calories to go at least twice! My highlights are deep fried cheese on a stick, pronto pups, mini donuts, cheese curds, pork chops on a stick, lemonade, and Butcher Boy london broil sandwiches!

  43. The Dairy Barn Ice Cream and Mini Donuts, together if possible :)

  44. jennyv 08.14.2011

    This is my first year eating cookie cup cookies (that’s what I call the cookies you got) — and after sharing w/ my family, we decided we’d rather get a BUCKET next time… so so so good.

  45. Eleni A. 08.14.2011

    This post makes me so excited to go to the fair next week! I’d have to say my favorite fair food is the deep fried vegetables. They have a variety basket with mushrooms, green beans, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and other stuff. It’s like an Iowan version of veggie tempura. I tried the deep fried Oreos one year…not bad! The Oreos had the same texture as when you dip them in milk.

    I love going to the art exhibits there too. It’s great to see how much artistic talent comes out of this state.

  46. holly 08.14.2011

    is it just me or does that bull bubba look like he has blood all over his head? :(

  47. Nicole 08.14.2011

    I think I’m a State Fair junkie this year. As of today, Sunday night, I have been to the fair 3 times. And there will likely be a couple more visits yet to happen. :)
    On my food list that has yet to be had…..Red Velvet Funnel Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. :)

  48. Jenn 08.14.2011

    I am going next Sunday! so excited. It will be my first time, my fiancee is from Indianola, so I get to go :)

    He’s making me eat a corn dog and a fried oreo. He says they taste just like cake! yumm.

  49. Meagan 08.15.2011

    I did the EXACT same thing today and went to the PGX (fair) here in Prince George, BC. Every year they have it around my birthday so I got in for $5 instead of $15!
    My boyfriend took “face-hole” pictures of me. I took a lot of pictures of pigs, cows, goats, bunnies, and chickens. I refrained from buying mini donuts and just got apple juice.
    It was a pretty good birthday. :)

  50. Jean 08.15.2011

    You should post the video of Ben calling you out on your meatball fake out!

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