|Welcome to the Iowa State Fair!|
The day started with me waking up at 7:00 and deciding I could lay in bed until my alarm went off. The day started again at 7:45 when I was awoken by Kate calling to say they were already at the rest stop we were going to meet at for our carpool. I told her to head on without me, and I would drive myself-- which was a good idea anyway since Allison was coming back with me.
By the time I was making it into Altoona, I was becoming particularly annoyed with how slow traffic was moving. When I was getting off the interstate, I found out who was moving so painfully slow. It was Sarah Palin!
|Don't drive and take photos at the same time kids!|
When I arrived at the fair with Allison, we headed straight to the Des Moines Register's Soapbox to listen to GOP hopefuls speak. It was an enlightening morning. We missed Herman Cain, but we were there in time for Rick Santorum. He reminded Allison to check to see if she qualified for unemployment benefits. He also taught us that the poorest person alive today is better off than the richest person 500 years ago. He also can see into the future. He was very concerned with the lack of media attention his campaign is getting. I think it's because people already know his name. If you're a fan of Dan Savage, you know why. If not, just Google "Santorum." His campaign was handing out miniature American flags, and I was very appreciative of that.
Next up was Ron Paul. I'd party with that dude, maybe even vote for him. (Side note: as a registered Republican, I do plan on supporting Ron Paul in January!) He spoke about ending war and getting back on the gold standard. He was a delight, and I regretted not looking cute. Tim Pawlenty wowed the crowd by having his wife introduce him. After giving a loving tribute to he her husband, she ceded the rest of her time husband. He was the only candidate to ask for questions. Things got a little too real for me when a group of construction workers from Minnesota that were standing behind me started screaming at T-Paw. They were upset that he was promising to create jobs as President despite his track record of vetoing legislation that included major construction projects/job creation in Minnesota. While I stand strong with my brothers and sisters in labor, I felt bad for T-Paw for a moment. All the media that was covering his speech walked away to talk to the construction workers.
Ben and Kate were interviewed by several media outlets, including two German news agencies! No one wanted to interview me, probably because I didn't have a cute outfit on.
We decided to take a break from politics and went off to do other fair things. We enjoyed platefuls of meat and delicious fried foods.
We also took a gander at the butter cow, had some more stick food, saw a giant, metal cock, and stuck our heads in things.
|Allison and I|
Seeing Sarah Palin was a major goal of mine for this trip to the ISF. As the day drew on, we had no luck finding her. She's a slippery maverick! Following her twitter and the NY Times coverage did not help. Warren and I decided to take to the sky to find her.
|To the sky!|
Our search yielded no results, but we did discover a place to buy Confederate flags at the fair. They cost $10 if you are interested. We read a report that Palin had left the fair, so we gave up our quest. Our sights were now fixated on the other major news item of the 2011 Iowa State Fair-- butter on a stick. We went to the information booth to ask where we could find this culinary wonder. We were directed up the hill, through a dizzying maze of fried chicken, candy, pork, and vegetables. When we arrived at the booth with the butter, the line was simply staggering. After the disappointment of not seeing Sarah, I declined that line. We sullenly marched up the hill to find corn-brats. All of a sudden, there was an explosion of commotion. Teen girls were screeching and squealing. I thought that certainly Justin Beiber was around or at least a vampire sparkling in the sunlight. No no! It was the mama grizzly herself along with the rest of her sloth.
|Mama, First Dude, and Family|
I was truly taken aback. I have no qualms in saying I love Sarah Palin. While I find her politics disgusting and confusing, and her rhetoric to be vitriolic and misguided, I think she's one of the most fascinating political figures of the past five years. Her rise from being the governor of a state none of us really care about to being the darling of the GOP and Tea Party is nothing short of remarkable. She is the poster child for the role of personality in contemporary American politics. Frankly, it's a sad state of affairs. But her policy ideas and the Tea Party movement she helped spawn clearly are holding a dangerously more frequent and important place in our political discourse. She is a figure progressives cannot choose to ignore or wish away. She shook my hand and asked my name. I happily obliged. I bet if I were wearing a cut outfit, I would have walked away with a job offer.
I was also shocked at her size. Her public image is clearly well managed. According to a quick Google search, Sarah is 5'4" and 145. Frankly, she looks like she weighs a lot less. Unhealthily less than 145 lbs. I would call her frail even.
According to the Huffington Post Sarah sent an e-mail to supporters about her visit to the ISF. In it she claims she's going to try the famous butter-on-a-stick. She also takes an opportunity to jab Michelle Obama's healthy kids campaign by saying it's better than eating peas. Ironically, when she would return to the butter booth an hour later, she would decline the tasty treat that she wrote so passionately about in her e-mail. I think this says a lot about how politicians carefully construct their public image and the media plays into their fancies.
We went on to explore other areas of the fair after our Sarah encounter. Most notably, we say the 4H tractor parade. Dozens of tractors rolled through the fairgrounds piloted by the young men of 4H and Future Farmers of America. At the end of the parade was a purple tractor with a young woman in command. I posed for a picture.
|Keeping women at the end of the line?|
Our day was coming to an end. As we walked to the Varied Industries building, we noticed that the line for butter was significantly shorter...
|Waiting in line...like a patriot!|
|Waiting for Butterman...like a patriot!|
|Posing with butter...like a patriot!|
|Delicious freedom...God Bless the USA|
All in all, it was an informational, educational, and fun day. Be sure to check out the Iowa State Fair if you can. It's the only state fair that there has been a book written about that was turned into three movies and a stage musical. Also remember to wear a cute outfit when you go. You never know who you'll run into.
|At least I have a miniature American flag|