Dear Iowa State Fairgoer: Thank you.
You may not know it, but attending the Iowa State Fair makes farmers and farm families like me quite happy. The Fair isn’t only fabulous-foods-on-a-stick and fun musical talent on the free stages, but also the perfect intersection between food, farming and families. I want to thank you, and here are 7 reasons why:
1. You came and saw us with our animals. Most of us have children who have worked all year on their 4H or open show projects. Showing up and being interested in their livestock is the equivalent of me coming and bringing a 2 dozen rose bouquet to your child’s dance recital or final soccer game.
2. You asked questions about our animals and the way we raise them. We are so proud of what we do, you have no idea how much it means when you ask. Next time, I’ll buy the lemonade and we can chat even longer.
(Photo Credit: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)
3. You ate pork chops on a stick, eggs on a stick, the best cheeseburger money can buy, a turkey taco and milkshakes that would bring any foodie to their knees. You supported Iowa farmers.
4. You noticed when I was having trouble moving a pig, and you waited until I gently redirected his attention. Then you noticed the flowers on his pen, and told me they were pretty. I nodded and smiled, saying I had just been to my cousin’s funeral and I couldn’t bear the thought of the flowers dying in my hot car all day. You put your hand on my shoulder and said, “I’m sorry for your loss”.
(Photo Credit: Bailey Lee)
5. You brought your children to “Little Hands on the Farm” and gave them a taste of Iowa agriculture. This is one of my favorite exhibits and will help my kids someday, when they are farming and chatting with your kids, who then will be likely buying their products at the grocery store.
6. You walked by when I was completely sweating my face off in the swine barn and handed me your hold-a-fan, then took it back out of my hand and fanned me with it when my son was having a total meltdown. (You must have known he needed an early bedtime. *See above photo.)
7. You stood in line for an Iowa Food and Family cookbook that contains recipes from me and other Iowa farmers. You will cook those recipes for your family, with many ingredients we grow on our farms. I love that.