Q: Why is the Iowa State Fair an important tradition for so many Iowans?
A: This month the Iowa State Fair expects to welcome more than a million visitors over 11 days to the fairgrounds. For generations of Iowans, the state fair has grown into the largest family friendly celebration in the state of Iowa. Last year, for the first time since World War II, the historic and internationally acclaimed Iowa State Fair was cancelled because of the pandemic. There’s pent-up demand from fairgoers to make the trip to Des Moines to enjoy their fair favorites. Families from across the state and the entire country make the pilgrimage to celebrate Iowa’s agricultural heritage, industrial expositions and blue ribbon achievements. Nothing compares to the sights, sounds and tastes of the Iowa State Fair. Get ready for mouth-watering treats with traditional and creative concessions available on the Grand Concourse. For me, nothing beats a pork chop on a stick. There’s something for everyone, from food and entertainment to competitions and exhibits featuring photography, woodworking, quilting, gardening and more. Of course, the Butter Cow in the Agriculture Building has been a must-see exhibit for more than 100 years. In 1911, the fair’s first Butter Cow made its debut and has been delighting generations of fairgoers ever since. As a lifelong family farmer, I enjoy walking through the livestock barns and evaluating the entries of the next generation who take pride in raising and showing their animals. For those who didn’t grow up on a farm or are a couple generations removed, the state fair is a wonderful experience to share with your kids. It’s hard to believe, but a big focus of my job representing Iowans in the U.S. Senate is educating people in Washington that food doesn’t grow in the grocery store. For example, the pandemic magnified vulnerabilities in our food supply chain that resulted in food scarcity in communities across the country. From my committee assignments on the Senate Agriculture and Judiciary Committees, I’m leading efforts to restore competition in America’s food supply chain to benefit independent cattle producers and consumers, as well as address the labor shortage for farm workers that process, package and deliver food to our tables. I’m also co-sponsoring the EATS Act, legislation that would prohibit state and local governments from interfering with the production or manufacture of agriculture commodities in interstate commerce, a principle the founders enshrined in our Constitution. I’m not sure why anyone would want to live in a state where it’s nearly impossible to buy bacon, but that’s where California residents are headed thanks to their passage of Proposition 12.
Q: Will you attend the Iowa State Fair this year?
A: Like many Iowans, I had a state fair hiatus in 2020 for the first time in 45 years. I’m looking forward to resuming my annual visit to walk the fairgrounds and greet Iowans along the way. In addition to my 99 county meetings, the state fair offers another opportunity to keep in touch with Iowans. Barbara and I are glad to again serve as honorary co-chairs of the John Stoddard Prevent Cancer Foundation. A 35-year breast cancer survivor, Barbara credits early detection to saving her life. The pandemic caused delays in routine screenings and follow-up appointments for too many Americans. We’re working to raise awareness and continue our advocacy for this important public health issue. I’ll also volunteer at the Iowa Pork tent where I’m happy to serve iced tea to patrons and promote Iowa pork producers. As Iowa’s senior U.S. Senator, I’m proud to be an ambassador for Iowa agriculture. In addition, I’m looking forward to visiting with producers and family farmers at the state fair, from the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters to Iowa Dairy and Iowa Egg Council, as well. Iowa family farmers feed and fuel the world. From international trade to interstate commerce, I work to expand access to Iowa’s high-quality beef, pork and poultry products from farm to fork. I have a hunch fairgoers would agree, Americans deserve bacon for breakfast, lunch and dinner, no matter their zip code.
The Iowa State Fair takes place on 450-acres listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The fair runs from Aug. 12-22, 2021.