Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pigs, Pies, and Cow Chip Bingo

My first blog in August. Can't believe it's already August.

We drove up to LeMars Sunday afternoon for the Plymouth County Fair. The girls' first county fair. They've been to the Kansas State Fair with us, but really, it's not quite the same beast. Keith and I went to the Kansas State Fair every year when we lived in Hutchinson (that's where the fair is located, for my non-Kansan friends). But our visits were mostly about the food (jaffles . . mmmm) and the -- well, the non-agricultural events. I'm not that much into crops and livestock.

But at the county fair level, it's all about farm-life. We did eat lunch there, but it wasn't as unique or as good as the fair fare that I'm accustomed to. There were rides, but only Eastin was really excited about them. And there were various "commercial displays", as they were labeled, but they weren't as interesting and unique as what we saw each year in Hutch.

This was a 4-H extravaganza all the way. Showing your animals and having them judged. Showing your monster watermelon you grew and having it judged. Showing your quilt you stitched and having it judged.

We ran into some homeschooling friends there who were participating, and that gave us kind of a different perspective on it all. They were about to do the "Pride of Iowa" event, where a kid makes up a recipe using ingredients that were grown or made in Iowa and gives out samples to the crowd and judges. Our friend Julie said that of the 120 points possible, only 20 were for the taste of the food they prepared. The bulk of it was for their presentation, their display, their poise, their explanations, etc. Gotta like that, really. The older 4-H kids we saw there were very comfortable speaking to people and very well-informed on their topics.

By far, however, the most fascinating event of the day for us was Cow Chip Bingo. My New Jersey friends will think I'm joking about this. They fence off a small piece of land and draw a grid on it, labeling each block with a letter and number (like when you play Battleship). People pay for a certain block (or several), and the money is all put into a pot (I think a portion goes to charity, actually). Then they let a cow loose inside the fence and wait until it poops. Whoever bought the block where the poop lands gets the pot. No lie.

It was a hoot. At 2:00pm, they brought in a cow and for an hour and forty-five minutes (maybe more, we left the fair then), people stood around watching this bovine graze, waiting for it to deliver the goods. Sometimes people would slap it around if it got close to the fence, trying to get it to another part of the grid. Leslie took pictures with her cell phone to send to friends back in the East. "This is how Iowans entertain themselves." Cow Chip Bingo. Seriously.

Next weekend is the Woodbury County Fair (that's our county). We've heard it puts Plymouth County to shame, so I guess we'll stop by. And later in the month is the Iowa State Fair, which apparently is the Mother Of All Fairs. A book we bought Keith for Father's Day about the 1000 places you must see before you die lists the Iowa State Fair in the 1000. But it doesn't look like we're going to make that this year. Maybe next summer.

I hope they have jaffles. Jaffles. Mmmmmmmm.


Carla said...

I must admit I had to do a search to find out what jaffles were. They look alot like hobo pies I've had that people make at campfires or the pizzas we used to make with the sandwich-maker in college. I've never seen them at a country fair before. Now I'm curious to know what filling is typically used for jaffles sold at the country fairs?


GJK said...

The ones we got at the Kansas State Fair had pepperoni, sausage and cheese. Yummy, yummy, yummy. I googled it, too, just to see what it said. I may have to look for a "jaffle iron".

Anonymous said...

I love the state fair, especially the quilts, cakes, food, campers, cars, entertainment. Paul and I have heard the Iowa State Fair is the best of the best and would like to someday go. Last year we were 30 minutes away, but we were too busy to go......someday!
Julie W.

Rudy said...

I've only ever been to the Iowa State Fair and a few smaller county fairs but the Iowa State Fair is by far the best place for foodies! You name it and you can get it deep fat fried on a stick; Twinkies, Oreo s, any kind of candy bar imaginable! Pork Chop on a Stick, Corn on a Stick! Yummy! My absolute favorite part of the fair is the 4H area. It's so much fun to see all the projects and read the journals written about each project. I also think it's a blast to sit and watch the people. Never a dull moment of people watching at the Iowa State Fair!

GJK said...

Hey, Rudy, I gotta ask . . . who are you? :)

victoria said...

Ahhh, every day life in the midwest. At least they were cows. ha!

In all seriousness, I think kids who went through 4-H are some of the most confident, goal oriented,disciplined, motivated people I have known in my life.I was not one of them , obviously, but lots of friends who were.

Rudy said...


My other nickname is Rudy.

Sorry Gwen-didn't mean to freak you out:)!