A family tradition for countless Iowans and other Midwesterners is a visit to the Iowa State Fair at least once during its ten day duration in August. This internationally-acclaimed event has a little bit of everything for nearly everybody. You can get over 50 kinds of food on a stick (cheese cake, fried Twinkies, peanut butter and jelly) or almost anything deep fried (butter, mac and cheese, Snickers candy bars). You can go to a concert, see the famous Butter Cow, ride the double ferris wheel, check out the livestock competitions and winners, or win a cow chip throwing contest. For many families, going to the fair means camping at the fairgounds or going several evenings after work. It’s a family tradition.
It’s also a great place to do a family lifestyle photo session. I admit, I take the fair for granted. I hadn’t been there in at least three or four years, so when I had the opportunity to tag along with two families to document their Iowa State Fair visits, it was like seeing the fair with new eyes.
The first family I spent time with was my childhood best friend. Jill has lived in Germany for the past 17 years, so when she comes home to Iowa, she and her husband and son always make a visit to the Iowa State Fair. My son and I spent the day with Jill’s family, her mom, and nephew. We saw a grape stomping demonstration, made name bracelets, played on the playground, rode the tram, got faces painted, ate ice cream, and rode the sky glider.
The next day, I spent the afternoon with Michelle’s family. Michelle’s a fantastic knitter and is the owner of Little Knit Lovey. One of her family’s traditions at the Iowa State Fair is to visit Little Hands on the Farm, an interactive exhibit that lets kids experience how products, produce, and livestock go from the farm to the market, to our homes. Kids get to pretend to plant seeds, harvest crops, milk cows, fill their tractors with soy diesel, gather eggs, and earn a buck which buys them a treat in the market at the end of their adventures. We also spent time on the midway and visiting the baby animals.
If you’ve never been to the Iowa State Fair, check it out next year August 9-19, 2012. After all, it is one of the 1000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die.
What family traditions do you have? Going to the apple orchard, the pumpkin patch, the Christmas tree farm? Contact me to tell the stories of your family traditions at email@example.com.