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My day with Mr. State Fair

Published: Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 11:04 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 11:06 a.m. CST

I grew up less than two blocks from the Iowa State Fairgrounds. On the south side of the complex, my neighborhood was inundated each year with cars, SUVs and RVs. One particular year, a car blocked our driveway and a motorhome owner attempted to empty his septic tank in my ditch on the same day.

Needless to say, the extent of my fair experience was filled with traffic jams and long waits to head to the store, as 1 million Iowans invaded my neighborhood for two weeks out of the summer. That is until I met Mr. State Fair and his family.

Mr. State Fair is the farthest thing from a cynic. If he were sitting in state fair traffic, he would probably whistle a tune that gives him a chuckle. Mr. State Fair is jovial.

Each year Mr. State Fair leads his six — now adult — children and Mrs. State Fair through the event — which is so popular Rodgers and Hammerstein based a musical on its greatness. This year, Mr. State Fair indulged his sweet tooth at the fair. He began his day at the saltwater taffy stand, then picked up an ice cream cone of fresh Wells Blue Bunny ice cream, while looking at this year’s prize food contest winners.

Mr. State Fair then cheered on his family from the ground as they rode the Crazy Mouse roller coaster. The photo of Mrs. State Fair and their children with blown-back cheeks and hair brought a belly-laugh to the annual fair-goer.

After a walk through the 4-H building, Mr. State Fair’s sweet tooth once again came knocking, and he needed a glass of honey lemonade while looking at the new Field of Dreams/Butter Cow exhibit. But he found time to smell the roses and take a picture with Mrs. State Fair under a tree in the Iowa State University Discovery Garden.

With each place they visited, the State Fair family renewed memories of fairs gone by. Mr. State Fair’s sole daughter still has a look of wonder as she observes each type of animal. His eldest son came home from California to join the fair festivities — each building, each show and each food vendor a tradition. A day with Mr. State Fair and his family could excite even the most morose of anti-state fair souls.

After a porkchop-on-a-stick, a visit to Pioneer Hall and Tribal Village and another sweet at the ISF ice cream parlor, Mr. State Fair smiled and waved goodbye to his favorite place until next year.

Contact Staff Writer Mike Mendenhall at mmendenhall@newtondailynews.com.