Fair 2023 – Thursday, August 17

Fair | Episode
Aug 17, 2023 | 54 min

Fair Highlights for Thursday, August 17 include:

  • Sling Shot
  • Fair Prep — Cowgirl Queen
  • 4-H Market Swine
  • Ugliest Cake Competition
  • Governor’s Charity Steer Show
  • Fair Queen Interview
  • Fabric and Threads Competition
  • Fair History — Kenneth Fulk
  • Wood Turning
  • Sewing Classes
  • Timber Sports
  • Fireworks
  • Blake Guyre Concert, Part 2


[Announcer] Funding for Fair 2023 is brought to you by Friends, the Iowa PBS Foundation. And by,

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My name is Dr. Cara Haden. I’m super passionate about animal welfare. There’s a lot of pigs that rely on me to train their caregivers. What we focus on in our training is encouraging our caregivers to understand that what they think and what they do matters.

[Announcer] Iowa PBS presents Fair 2023. And here is your host Bill Riley. 

Hi, I'm Bill Riley and welcome to our Thursday night edition of Fair 2023. For 52 years it's been our pleasure to bring you the highlights of the great Iowa State Fair and we have an amazing hour ahead of us.

Here's a quick rundown of tonight's show. We'll take a look at some cakes that you would never want to eat. We'll get to know the 2023 Iowa State Fair Queen and we'll see some quick work with an ax and saw.

This year the fair is all about the very best. The best food, the best entertainment, the best contests and of course the very best livestock. Paul Yeager takes us into the Swine Barn to meet some 4-Hers that are hoping the judge thinks their hog is the best.

[Paul Yeager] When you are the top state in the nation in producing pork,  hog production is a big deal. Hog shows an even bigger deal at the Iowa State Fair. Today almost 500 of the finest animals are competing in the 4-H competition for Market Swine. Kind of like Aden. He's getting ready to go into the ring and so are we. 

You were walking the pig. Why? 

[Aden Wolfe] Because it exercises them and so my dad and my dad's friend could look at him. Make sure he's ready for show day.

[Paul] So there is a little bit of judging before the judging? 

[Aden] Yes. Yes, there is.

[Paul] How many years do you think you've exhibited at the Iowa State Fair? 

[Aden] Well, this would be my fourth year exhibiting at the Iowa State Fair, but I have shown since I was three years old. 

[Paul] What is it like being in the ring showing? 

[Aden] It's amazing. That's what it is. It's awesome. I love doing it, so I look forward to this every year. 

[Paul] How'd that go? 

[Aden] All right. Pretty good. I'm hoping I can do better with the York, but for a second time out that was about what I expected. 

[Paul] All right, Kennedy. What's going through your mind? 

[Kennedy Axmear] Just a lot of emotions right now. I'm just surprised I'm not crying. I'm very happy right now. 

[Paul] I'm crying for you.

[Kennedy] Oh, thank you. 

[Paul] It's a lot of love there. You give a hug there, what's that all about?

[Kennedy] She's a special one. She came in the barn and she was pretty mean and I got her to love me. We have a bond now. 

[Paul] She was mean?

[Kennedy] Oh yeah. 

[Paul] How did you break a mean one?

[Kennedy] Marshmallows.

[Paul] Little ones when they did something right? 

[Kennedy] Yeah. I'd I'd sit in the pin with her for a long time just loving on her marshmallows. 

[Paul] So, how do you fit in showing a pig when you're playing softball in the summer? You do track in the spring. How do you squeeze anything in?

[Kennedy] I get up very early every morning do all my stuff before I leave, and then right after practice I'm back home doing more stuff.

[Paul] I understand you've done quite well at the Drake Relays and discus. You've won that before. Not too bad at softball either I hear. Maybe a couple of home runs now and again?

[Kennedy] Yeah, a few home runs, that's it.

[Paul] What does it say that you're able to balance all of that? 

[Kennedy] That hard work takes you a long way. And I'm very passionate about everything that I do. 

[Paul] All right Ryland, earlier today you had a pretty good run. Tell me about that first experience when the judge selected you in that run. 

[Ryland Morgan] I don't know. I just go out there and show to the best of my ability. It worked out in the end. 

[Kurt Morgan] You know, he might have 12 pigs he's getting ready for the fair throughout the season. So it's pretty much a 7:00 to 10:00 deal with the summer, and they're in all kinds of sports and weightlifting and whatnot, but you're right. Like keeping us busy all day long, it makes it go fast. You think, "Gosh I'm already at my third state fair." He was saying, "It seems like just yesterday I was showing in my first state fair." It's really a family thing. I have a wife and a daughter. We all work on the farm. It's pretty much every day from May through the start of school and then it's back to sports for us. But these guys put in a ton of work every day. Whether it's with our sows, our boars, the show pigs, it's pretty non-stop between that and sports. We really don't have time to sit down and relax. 

My name is Elivia Papcun. I am an equestrian and I have a passion for horses. I went to my first horse show when I was eight with my first horse that I had ever had, Chicken. We didn't really know what we were doing. I even went in with my hat on backwards. Somehow I still got 2nd place in a pretty big class and from that moment on I was just hooked. 

Chicken has grown up with me for the past 8 years. It feels like I've had her forever. She is the best horse. She tries so hard every time. She loves to show and I could never be where I am today without her. In 2021, my new show horse BB suffered a leg injury and I had to pull Chicken out of the pasture to compete. I was determined and she was determined and I took her to 2021 Youth World. She was a 15-year-old mare that had not had much training in two years and we were somehow top 10 in the nation for that class. 

Winning the 2022 Iowa State Fair Cowgirl Queen Contest was very special and dear to me. My grandma and mom both competed in that competition. And also in June of 2022 I had a very bad horse accident. The doctors had told me that it was going to be at least six months before I could even think about riding again. But I won the Cowgirl Queen Contest two months later because I was so persistent and so determined to get out of the hospital get started with physical therapy. I was a little bit scared, but I was just so happy to be there with Chicken because we had been together for 8 years and we've been through so much together. 

My current show partner BB is a young horse that I am moving even further up in competing with. We travel around the country doing shows together and she is still young, and has a few things to learn, but she is very talented, very athletic and great-minded and I have no doubt that she will take me to the top in the future. It's very rewarding when you've worked really hard and you bring home a national title or world title. My next step from here is to ride on a D1 and CAA Equestrian Team and I am working really hard to achieve that goal. One way that I help prepare myself for college and getting to learn what it's like to be a college equestrian is riding on a team. I ride through an organization called Youth Equestrian Development Association or YEDA and I absolutely love YEDA. I love my team. Throughout my sport and my life I've had to overcome many challenges. Not just with horses, but with injuries and tough times. I love horses. I love what I do. And I really believe that if you love it, you're doing it right. God has given me an amazing life and so many amazing opportunities. Not only with my horses but in all areas of my life and I'm so thankful for that. I cannot wait to see what the future will bring for my equestrian career and I am so excited to continue my passion.

[Travis Graven] I've been out here walking the fairgrounds, seeing exhibits, eating the food, but now I think I'm ready for something exciting. An adrenaline rush of some sort. Let's go see what we can find. 

(Travis looking at the Sky Glider and Ferris Wheel) (Travis considering the Ye Olde Mill)

Hmmmm, it's cute. But I think it's a little bit slow.

(Travis considering the Sky Glider)

I do like the bird's eye view that this one provides, but eh? A little boring. 

(Travis drives a bumper car)

I still think we can do more exciting.

(Travis considering the Ferris Wheel)

Hmm, this one does have some height to it, but you just sit there in a circle. Still a little tame for my taste. 

I don't know maybe it's just not meant... 

(Travis spots something nearby)

Oh yeah baby, there it is. 

(Travis looks up at a seat attached by bungee cords to two parallel towers.)

I am about to go on this what can you tell me to expect? 

[Brandon Will] It's a rush. You go real quick. Got some good flips in there. But yeah, it's just like a nice light free fall and it's kind of relaxing once you slow down. 

[Travis] Relaxing? Yeah, that's not what I think when I look at that. 

[Travis] What did you think? 

[Ryker Kooima] It was amazing. It's probably the best ride I've ever been on in my life. 

[Travis] What made it so cool? 

[Ryker] Just the speed and the rush of the wind. And going upside down was really fun too. 

[Travis] How about you?

[Kayla Kooima] Yeah, I really like the feeling when your stomach kind of drops out underneath and then that big rush of the free fall. I like the free fall.

[Travis] Grandpa and Grandson here.

[Mike Wilt] Yes.

[Travis] How was it? 

[Mike] Great. 

[Owen Scott] It's pretty scary. 

[Travis] Pretty scary? 

[Owen] It was normal going up first. And then when you went to tip back down, it was when it got scary. 

[Travis] Tell me what the slingshot is. 

[Cole Barendregt, Hot Shot Thrill Rides] It's an amusement ride. It sends you 200 feet in the air at about 100 miles an hour. Approximately 5Gs. It's fun. You're supposed to be scared. That's the fun part, you know? It's a good ride, you know?

[Travis] That's the thrill in the thrill ride. You gotta have a thrill element of being scared? 

[Cole] Yeah, that's what makes it fun.

[Travis] Any last minute advice? 

[Cole] Just have fun keep your hands up. 

[Travis] All right, here we go.

(Ride carriage springs 100 feet in the air)

[Travis] Oh, oh my gosh, that is a rush. Oh my God, that was that was exciting. I'm glad I did not eat lunch before I went because that would have been a problem. But I would highly recommend this ride. 10 out of 10. 

[Bill Riley] It's time to see what you know about the Iowa State Fair with tonight's trivia question. If you unrolled all of the toilet paper stockpiled for the fair, how many miles would it stretch? 

Well there's a chance these kids creativity may also make you cringe a little bit. We're going to head over to the Elwell Family Food Center for a contest where the Blue Ribbon goes to the most revolting, disagreeable and altogether ugliest cake. 

The a Ugliest Cake Contest has been around for at least 15 years. The kids can bring an ugly cake. The cake itself should be real. I think it shows that they are taking the step to put themselves out there. To actually bring a product to the state fair and then be proud of it, whether it actually is a winner or not. There are two age groups. There's 7 to 11 and 12 to 17. Everyone who enters gets $5 in fair food and a ticket to ride the Giant Slide. 

[Amy Doerring] What we really look for is something that is ugly and gross. And the ugly and gross things sometimes come in what it is, what you think about when you see something, or the story that somebody will tell. 

The story that they wrote was great. Because now we understand and and we hope that the next time they have to clean out the litter box it doesn't look as bad as this does, right? So even though the things look ugly. like toenail clippings or hair in the drain, everything in the cake is edible. And the list is on their sheet when they sign up and we can see every edible thing that they use to create something disgusting, gross, ugly. 

We believe that everyone can come to the fair. But when you enter into the fair you become a different part of the fair. And it makes you appreciate all the work that goes into the judging and the entering and you just have more skin in the game.

[Lilly Clark] In my opinion, it was pretty ugly. 

[Claudette Taylor] It was creative how many times did she try it before it held together and could be decorated. I mean you have an idea but you bring it out and you start cutting and shaping and it may not even hold its shape.

[Lilly] So, it probably took me like - to to bake it, cool it, carve it, and do all the frosting and stuff - it probably took me about 3 to 4 hours in total. I made a couple things out of fondant. I made the nail clippers. I made the hairbrush looking thing that people scrape off their dead skin with. And the dead skin is actually a little fried coconut. I also made a nail filer. 

[Marisa Shoup] I was really excited. 

[Claudette] Of course it had eye appeal from the get-go, and you looked at the detail. The exhibitor swirled the parts of the brain equally and had it just like you would expect to see and simplicity but it sent a message. I love that. I

[Producer] Just how ugly do you think your brain cake is?

[Marisa Shoup] Pretty ugly. 

[Producer] How long did it take you to make that cake? 

[Marisa] Probably like 3 hours. I'm coming back next year. 

I'm Anna Pilcher. I'm the superintendent of Fabrics & Threads at the Iowa State Fair. 

We have several different classes set up over the course of the fair. We have different guilds that come in and teach some classes. Today we have the embroider's guild here. We'll have some wool applique classes. We also have off-the-rails quilting and doing a lot of our machine classes. Our machine applique and some of our advanced advanced machine classes, they're here the length of the fair. We have different ones set up throughout the week to sign up for. 

[Loretta Moon] They have classes each time here in the threads area and so I signed up, and we're making a keychain with our embroidered initials on it, which is real cute. And I'm planning ahead for Christmas gifts. 

[Charlotte Henderson] I like to quilt. I am not as great as these wonderful people here. I consider myself in the kindergarten stage, but I do have several items here on display. I do it simply because I want to be able to say to myself, "I displayed something at the great Iowa State Fair." Just makes me feel good. 

[Anna] We have two options for that. They're doing an on-site demo here today out in the general area. Before you could walk around and see what they're doing. And then they also have two class times offered throughout the day where you can sit down and get individualized instruction with them. 

[Lucinda Wonderlich-Fuller] I'm one of the members of the Valley Junction Embroiderers' Guild of America. We're a local chapter and we're here today doing a stitch in and this afternoon we're doing a corner bookmark embroidery class. Three of us will go over there and help teach the class. I'm working on a canvas piece it's called Hapsburg lace. I started it a long time ago but I bring it out for places like this because I can see it. 

[Anna] It kind of starts off slow. But as people come in and they see the classes in progress, and they see the fun that the people are having, they tend to sign up. They fill up as the fair goes on. 

[Bill Riley] What a thrill to have the 2023 Iowa State Fair Queen here with us. I'd like to introduce you to Kalayna Durr. she's from Henry County. My dear, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule. What an honor to have you here to talk about your crowning and all of the things coming forward as you tour the state fair. Tell us a little bit about your family. 

[Kalayna Durr] As you said, I'm from Henry County. New London's my small little town, proud to represent. My parents are Dina Boker, Daniel Hester and Tony and Ann Durr. And I have three little siblings, so one of them is not too little, but it's a little to me. So I have a 14-year-old brother, a three-year-old brother and an eight-month-old little sister. 

[Bill] My three older sisters still call me "Little Bill," so that that's always going to be in play. Tell us a little bit about the excitement when your name was called on stage.

[Kalayna] Like I said, I did not expect it whatsoever. I had actually thrown all my clothes into my suitcase and they were all wrinkled when I got here. I had to have all of them steamed and stuff, but it was just the best feeling ever. I completely went numb. I was speechless. I still am speechless. 

[Bill] And well deserved. Tell us briefly about your goals and some of your interests coming up this year.

[Kalayna] I will be attending DMACC here in a short week or so. I'll be studying AG business and then I plan to transfer to Iowa State for AG education. Like we were talking about earlier, my plan is to go back to my small town and start an AG program and FFA chapter at my school. 

[Bill] That is so important to your community, giving back to the community. Well, what a thrill to have the 2023 Iowa State Fair Queen here with us. Kalayna Durr from Henry County. 

Congratulations to everyone who competed in a contest this year. Here are some results.

Yeast Breads - Overall

  • 1st Place - Pam Van Essen, Ottumwa
  • 2nd Place - Charlie Baumhover, Indianola
  • 3rd Place - Jeffrey King, Newton

Yeast Breads - Artisan

  • 1st Place - Eli Bailey, Urbandale
  • 2nd Place - Charlie Baumhover, Indianola
  • 3rd Place - Matthew Phoenix, Ankeny

Yeast Breads - Whites

  • 1st Place - Marianne Carlson, Jefferson
  • 2nd Place -  Cecilia Naughton, Nevada
  • 3rd Place - Matthew Phoenix, Ankeny

Yeast Breads - Gluten Free

  • 1st Place - Jennifer Simonton, Waukee
  • 2nd Place - Mary Burr, Iowa City
  • 3rd Place - Melissa Toney, Lamoni

Ugliest Cake Competition - 7-11 Class

  • 1st Place - Lilly Clark, Tiffin
  • 2nd Place - Phillip Reeder, Des Moines
  • 3rd Place - Ruby Grosc, Bondurant

Ugliest Cake Competition - 12-17 Class

  • 1st Place - Marisa Shoup, Clive
  • 2nd Place - Ian Caffrey, Ankeny
  • 3rd Place - Grace Gibson

People's Choice - Best New Food

  • Deep-Fried Bacon Brisket Mac-n-Cheese Grilled Cheese from "What's Your Cheez"

Concrete Statues - Novice Category

  • 1st Place - "A Starry Night in Iowa" by Abbygayle Garner, Grimes
  • 2nd Place - "Together We Grow" by Aly DeMoss, Pleasant Hill
  • 3rd Place - "That's Fair" by Gabrielle Salemink, West Branch

Concrete Statues - Professional Category

  • 1st Place - “Best of Iowa” by Missy Sharer Pieters and Kelly Birkenholtz and Troy Birkenholz, Newton
  • 2nd Place - “The Wild Ones” by Pamela Kline, Hannah Joe Thompson, Janie Brookborror, Richard Kirby, Blakley Joe Breese and Cindy Miller, Norwalk
  • 3rd Place - “Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation Tractor” by Sticks Gallery for the Blue Ribbon Foundation, Des Moines


  • Best of Show - Julio Martinez, Cedar Rapids
  • First Runner-Up - Bob Kroese, Pella
  • Second Runner-Up - Bob Kroese, Pella
  • Third Runner-Up - Julio Martinez, Cedar Rapids


  • Best of Show - David Rabe, Ottumwa
  • Honorable Mention - Mark Widdel, Denver
  • Honorable Mention - Steve Yeager, Martinsburg

We're going to take a quick break but the state fair celebration, it's far from over. So stick around for more fair fun on Iowa PBS. 

There was some incredible talent on the Riley Stage today. Here are the acts moving on.

Sprout Champions

  • Reese Freml, 9, Johnston, Tap Solo
  • Mya Burns, 12, Sioux City, Vocal Solo

Senior Finalists

  • Lauren Carney, 17, Parkersburg, Musical Theater Vocal Solo
  • Aniyah Schabilion, 16, Hip-Hop/Acro Solo, Davenport
  • Moriah Denhart, 16, West Des Moines, Musical Theater Dance Solo

Tune in to Iowa PBS on Sunday August 20 at 8 pm for the Talent Championships. 

[Bill Riley] Hey, welcome back everyone to Fair 2023. We're going to start the second half of our show with an event that has a wonderful impact on many Iowa communities. Our good friend Blair Ryan joins Iowa celebrities at this year's Governor's Charity Steer Show. 

[Blair Ryan] Here in the Livestock Pavilion, happening right now, is the Governor's Annual Charity Steer Show. 

[Emcee] First year end of the ring is sponsored by the Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen's Association. And you will recognize Governor Kim Reynolds leading our steer in. 

[Blair] Welcome to the 41st edition of the Governor's Charity Steer Show.

The 24 competitors are lined up and the celebrity interviews are underway.

[Gov. Kim Reynolds] Well first of all, it's an incredible opportunity to showcase, you know, the cattle industry and all that our cattle producers do all across the state. The importance - that role that they play in feeding not only Iowa, but country and the world. 

[Blake Boldon] You know, I'm used to being around world-class competitors, world record holders, world champions. This guy right here is the first time I've ever seen an athlete gain 20 or 80 pounds between competitions.

[Rebecca Kopelman] It is such a great cause and awesome to be here and I would say he's getting a little Deja moo from being in another show. Because he's done a few shows. He's a pro. 

[Mary Ann Fox] But you know what, I would not want to spend my last few hours as the Iowa State Fair Queen other than showing cattle. 

[Zach Merfeld] I'm subbing in for Ryder. He's in the middle with my wife Haley. A little over a year ago he was born 8 weeks early. 2 pounds, 14 ounces. We got life flighted down here to Des Moines. And the middle of the night we talked about, just wondering, "what we're gonna do? We're gonna have to drive back and forth," everything like that. That's when we first found out about the Ronald McDonald House. Just a great, great organization and they do so much good for so many people. 

[Blair] During the competition Will Vlasek from Cedar Rapids and Colbie Fevold of Gladbrook received the Community Hero Award. This year's steer judge is Brad Pellett from Iowa. It looks like Pellett has selected his top 5, but before we see who was chosen as this year's champion let's see who is awarded the Grand Champion Showman and the People's Choice Awards. 

[Dr. Dan Loy] Great job. Or I should say, three teams of showman that really did a great job. But I have to select one and I'm going to do that now.

[Blair] Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and Junior shown by Emma Ways. 

Next is the battle for the People's Choice Award. The crowd is certainly making this one difficult.

[Emcee] Mary Ann Fox and Taylor Quaid.

[Blair] It's team number 12, with the 2022 Iowa State Fair Queen, Mary Ann Fox, and her youth partner, Taylor Quaid from Charles City. Now, Brad Pellett is bringing back his top five. Let's get a few words from the judge.

[Brad Pellett] You know, the greatest state fair in the country has one of the greatest events that we can showcase the beef industry, and the charity and the collaboration between the two great organizations. I want to congratulate these exhibitors. They have made my job here extremely difficult. With that being said, again, in so much for this opportunity. I'll go out and pick your champion steer.

[Blair] It's Blake Boldon with Drake University and his partner, Tyson Mohr from Glendora, with the steer Batman.

How does it feel to have the winner today at the governor's charity steer show?

[Tyson Mohr] Feels like a lot of my hard work is really starting to pay off. It feels really good.

[Blake Boldon] Well, we never doubted we'd win. I mean, it's a lot of fun. Tyson has done an incredible job with this young steer, and it's been a lot of fun to be part of it. Really exciting, and a humbling experience.

[Blair] Now it's in the auction ring. This year, the steers sold at auction brought in more than a half a million dollars, pushing the total raised for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Iowa to nearly $5.5 million. And that's how we finished up.

[Tom Whalley] We are here doing demonstrations to show the public how we make things. A lot of people have no idea what a lathe is. People think woodturning is a craft. We want to show that it's an art. Everything that you see on display here is something that one of our members has made. This year, I think we have 48 different items. Anywhere from bowls, to rolling pins, to spurtles, which is something that most people have never heard of before. A spurtle was invented in Scotland maybe 500 or 600 years ago. It's essentially a stick that has a round point on it. Because if you look at the bottom of a pan, the pan is round, and can't get in there with a wooden spoon. But now you can with a spurtle. It's fun to get somebody who's never done it, and I'll tell somebody, you know, you can put this on top of a pot. It eliminates the boiling over because it breaks the surface tension. Somebody in the back said, "I know. I've got one, and it works." I like that. 

We have people that are 90 years old that are unbelievable turners. And anybody other than that can learn from them, their expert turners. But more importantly, their finishing is fantastic. The technique to get this perfectly straight is difficult. The technique to get this end to match this end is difficult. It's a learning experience for the members. It's also a great product for the public. This year, we changed to what we call Prince rolling pin. This has a gentle curve. So in our chapter, our focus is to educate our members to know how to turn, take members that have been around for a long time and help them learn how to do it better. We have expert trainers that work with them on the basic skills, just like anything. Before you can be an olympic swimmer, you've got to learn first how to swim. It's no different than woodturning. We want to start with the basics, and then help them grow, and then see how creative we can get. And from looking around at some of the entries that our turners have done, you can see it's quite a broad spectrum of creative people. 

[Brian Simmons] There are a variety of categories here in woodturning. Judging each item within that category, I'm looking for, the techniques that were used to turn that, what sort of skill level might've been necessary to produce that, what the finished wood looks like. That shows a lot of technique and how that's done. The reality is that most woods turn really, really well. In woodturning, a little more uniquely than other areas of woodworking, you can literally take the tree down out of your backyard and turn it.

[Tim Eckert] Woodturning is the one part of woodworking that intimidates me the most. That thing moving at 900 miles an hour, trying to put a blade on it, that can be intimidating.

[Doris Eckert] We have an 18-year-old son, and we've never bought him video games, but he has a wood shop in the backyard. I think this is probably next level for him. It's what he's looking forward to.

[Tom] What I would like to see more of is more of the younger generation, because for too long, this has been an old man's club. That's not the case. Some of the best turners in the country are female. There is absolutely room in the book for everybody.

[Abby Brown] At the fair, we saw wood for fun, and at home, once upon a time, it had to be done. So today, families reunite and competitors come together for timber sports.

David and Nile, you guys are competing today. And your dad competed, and you've got some kids coming up. Why is timber sports so much fun?

[Nile Cox] Well, it's, it's just like the cowboys of old. Their work, you know, began as work, but it became their play. They would have a rodeo. Woodsmen would work all day, and then on weekends or special occasions, they would see who was the best, you know?

[Abby] Yeah, work hard, play hard, right?

[Emcee] Ready, set, go! Ready, set, go! Ready, set, go!

[Abby] Jackie, you're kind of a celebrity around here. How long have you been doing this?

[Jackie Buster] Well, I came up in '79 with an axe.

[Abby] Okay.

[Jackie] Burdick Cox was the guy to beat. And all he had was some limbs in the park. So in '80, I had a sawmill, and I brought the wood in '80, and I came every year.

[Abby] What do you love about it?

[David Cox]The tradition, I think. Coming back every year, seeing the same people you haven't seen for a year.

[Abby] And you are not only competitors, you're actually providing an important piece of the competition, right?

[Nile] Yeah.

[Abby] Tell me more.

[Nile] Well, my dad was a sawmill man. I grew up off-bearing wood from the sawmill, and we have an Amish man down the road that saws for us, so this opportunity was just, just nothing to it.

[Abby] And with Jackie moving on, somebody needed to step in, and so it will be you guys from now on.

[Nile] Indeed. I competed against Jackie for several years.

[Abby] He's the guy to beat for sure.

[Nile] Indeed.

[Emcee] Ready, set, go!

[Spectators] Oh, yeah! Keep it up! Okay!

Keep going!

Keep going!

[Bill Riley] And now, it's time for the answer to tonight's trivia question. If you unrolled all of the toilet paper stockpiled for the state fair, how many miles would it stretch? Well, you could take five trips to Chicago, or one to Los Angeles. That's right. Over 1800 miles . Well, there you have it. That's a lot of TP. 

Knitting and crocheting have been enjoying quite a comeback among people who want to put down their cell phone and use their hands to do something creative. We're going to head to the 2nd floor of the Varied Industries Building to see what folks have been working on.

[Melissa Gilje, Fabric & Threads Judge] So today, we are judging all categories, and we're going to focus on knitting. I've been a Nader, Weaver, and spinner for almost two decades.

I like being around other crafters, seeing the different design elements. Yarn put together with a pattern, how well it pairs together. And just seeing all the projects. I lay out the whole piece before I look at it. I look for consistency and tension, stitches, loosened or sewn in. Design is very good. Use of color is excellent. Stitches are even and consistent. Very good for proper cast on and cast off. Very good on no knots or loose ends. And blocking is excellent. And under yarn choice, it's amazing the caliber of work here. And we've got people who are just amazing -  that you wouldn't even know it was hand knitted. This one is going to be first place . This one will be second, and this one will be third  place. Stitches are uniform and even. Some of our knitted projects, it could be 80 hours into a project. Uniformity of stitches, put excellent. It's hard, because somebody like this, who would turn it in, just so much pride in it I'm sure, and for me to judge it and find little things that they may have done better is very hard. Mark in the comments that there is no give or stretch to the cast on and cast off. But, you know, the end, the feedback can be very helpful.

[Nannette Stoakes]  My first year participating. I just followed the pattern, and then it's knitted with wool. And then when one is done, it's felted. It's just very relaxing, and it's challenging to, to be able to complete a project that looks difficult, and learn new things. It's just inspiring to see what you can do with your hands and imagination.

[Melissa] It is a great way to show off your work, what you're doing, and get good feedback from the judges on what you could improve on or maybe use a different yarn with the pattern. Even if you don't think you'd win a ribbon, enter, because you're going to learn something.

[Bill Riley] Our great state fair, it's still part of our lives. Mostly because it's been able to adapt and change with the times. And that was especially true back in the 1960s.

[Thomas Leslie, Architect and Historian] As America changes, Iowa changed, the fair had to think about how does it market itself? How does it stay true to what it always had been as an agricultural event? But again, how does it bring in people from the city? 

[Bill] The fair needed a manager who knew both entertainment and agriculture. Someone who understood people and how to improve the fair going experience. Kenneth Fulk was named secretary manager in 1962.

[Connie Boesen, Concessionaire] Well, my dad accepted the job as the manager of the fair and the requirement of being the manager of the fair is that you live on the fairgrounds. So, we loaded up all of 5 kids and we had animals that we had at our acreage and we brought them all with us. He was a huge agriculture guy. When you bring about his background, he would judge cattle. So, he wanted to have the top shows. He wanted to have the top quality. He was always about quality, even on concessions. It wasn't about the amount but it was about promoting the products of Iowa and the quality products of Iowa. 

[Kenneth Fulk] That's a smokey-mokey.

[Chuck Offenburger, Former Des Moines Register Correspondent] He was the first of the fair managers to realize how important it was to sell that whole show. He had to sell it beyond a farm audience and a small-town audience. I mean, he had to take it to the city and appeal to urban people and to tourists coming to Iowa. 

[Passenger] You're a dickens on this thing, aren't you?

[Kenneth Fulk] You've got to be. 

[Bill] Fulk was not afraid to make a change or try something new. One idea he had was closing Grand Avenue to traffic. The change would relieve the miles-long traffic jams that plagued the entrance into the fair. It transformed into the now famous Grand Concourse. Iowa was not immune to the changes in American culture in the 1960s. An explosion of rock 'n roll music, the counterculture ideas, and the anti-war sentiment had transformed the country in the span of a decade.

[Thomas Leslie] With the youth movements in the '60s, the fair tended to be seen as kind of a conservative, your parents' event, and they began to lose a lot of the youth demographic that had been really important to them. 

[Bill] Teen Town was created for teenagers by teenagers. 

[Grace DeWitt, Former Fairgrounds Resident] I went to East High and I was on All City Student Council and we would meet with all of the other leaders, council members from the different schools, and so he brought this idea of something for the teenagers to do, which I think was great. 

[Regina Pirtle, Pioneer Hall Superintendent] And I remember my friends and I came regularly to that and it was an enclosed area where the teens gathered. We would see people we knew and we would look for new people to get to know.

[Connie Boesen] You couldn't be over 18 to go in. And I think that that's the people my age are still coming to the fair a lot of people went to Teen Town. They had bands and they had dances and it was a place that everybody could go. 

[Grace DeWitt] It wasn't rowdy. It was just a lot of people from a lot of different areas would come together and dance. 

[Connie Boesen] I think it was to bring the rural and urban together. It was really to bring back the essence of what Iowa was all about, the history and the legacy. 

[Grace DeWitt] The other thing that was big were the fireworks. You would have all of a sudden, an Iowa corn stalk. You would have Niagara Falls. You would have whoever was the entertainer that night, they would do their face in fireworks. 

[Kenneth Fulk] A lot bigger than last year, aren't they? 

[Man 2] Oh, yeah.

[Kenneth Fulk] This is a ship. That's the Mayflower. That's the Mayflower, that's the Mayflower ship. 

[Bill] And the fireworks are a spectacle that continues to this day.

[Jeremy Mostek, Mitchell] We're at the Iowa State Fair. 11 nights of fireworks here, every night after the concert.

There is, like, 130 shells on this trail here, 100 finale shells. We have a lot of one row cakes and candles and mines. Try to do low, medium, and high. Want to get the grandstands that have a really good show, but then you also want people in the fair to enjoy it too, you got the higher stuff. But then, for safety, you can only do so big and stuff.

[Katelynn Mostek, Mitchell] So we got some three-inch shells here and some two and a half-inch shells. This is the stuff that's going to get up the highest. Each of these shells are plugged into this box, so, for instance, this shell hear will be plugged in, and it'll be plugged into one of these cues here. We'll have 12 of these out tonight, and then these boxes here are wirelessly connect to a remote that will be shooting off tonight. You know, anybody could buy one of these systems. It's just, the regulation problem is the, the thing. You got to have ATF clearance and ATF license to buy something like that, so we all get background checks, drug tested, all that type of stuff.

[Jeremy] Obviously, people come to the fair want to enjoy everything, and it's also kind of saying this is the end of the concert. You kind of give them that last seal of the deal, the finale of the night.

Our final queue is basically a red light turns on.

Get an adrenaline rush out of it, too. We get it right on the money. It's probably why I do it. This is my thing, you know, to get, kind of get a rush out of it, you know what I mean?

[Bill Riley] Blake Guyre has been performing the music of Elton John and Billy Joel since he was nine years old, and he's got a great show planned for us tonight. Let's go check it out.

(Instrumental music)

♪ It's getting late have you seen my mates ♪ ♪ Ma tell me when the boys get here ♪ ♪ It's seven o'clock and I want to rock ♪ ♪ Want to get a belly full of beer ♪

♪ My old man's drunker than a barrel full of monkeys ♪ ♪ And my old lady she don't care ♪ ♪ My sister looks cute in her braces and boots ♪ ♪ A handful of grease in her hair ♪

♪ Don't give us none of your aggravation ♪ ♪ We had it with your discipline ♪ ♪ Saturday night's alright for fighting ♪ ♪ Get a little action in ♪

♪ Get about as oiled as a diesel train ♪ ♪ Gonna set this dance alight ♪ ♪ 'Cause Saturday night's the night I like ♪ ♪ Saturday night's alright, alright, alright ♪

♪ Well they're packed pretty tight in here tonight ♪ ♪ I'm looking for a dolly who'll see me right ♪ ♪ I may use a little muscle to get what I need ♪ ♪ I may sink a little drink and shout out "She's with me!"  ♪

♪ A couple of the sound that I really like ♪ Are the sounds of a switchblade and a motorbike ♪ ♪ I'm a juvenile product of the working class ♪ ♪ Whose best friend floats in the bottom of a glass ♪

♪ Don't give us none of your aggravation ♪ ♪ We had it with your discipline ♪ ♪ Saturday night's alright for fighting ♪ ♪ Get a little action in ♪

♪ Get about as oiled as a diesel train ♪ ♪ Gonna set this dance alight ♪ ♪ 'Cause Saturday night's the night I like ♪ ♪ Saturday night's alright, alright, alright ♪

♪ Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday ♪ ♪ Saturday night's alright, alright, alright ♪

♪ Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday ♪ ♪ Saturday night's alright ♪ 

[Bill Riley] What a way to wind up our coverage for this Thursday of Fair 2023. We'll be back here again tomorrow night with another full hour of highlights, but until then, you can explore our website and our YouTube channel, as well as our Facebook and Instagram pages. That way, you can stay in that state fair frame of mind. There are so many ways you can engage with us about the amazing state fair anytime, anywhere. 

Here's what we'll be showcasing tomorrow. Outdoor chefs chase perfection at the cookout contest. These fine fellows and their fancy beards always make us smile. But if that's too serious for you, we'll have the rubber chicken throwing contest to lighten things up. Oh boy, our Friday night fair coverage, it's going to be a hoot. There's so much to look forward to, so don't miss it right here on Iowa PBS. Until tomorrow night, I Bill Riley. Thanks so much for joining us, and remember, have fun at the fair.

(Fair 2023 Credits Roll)

  • Host - Bill Riley
  • Executive Producer - Cameron McCoy
  • Producer - Theresa Knight
  • Editors/Production Assistants - Julie Knutson, Sean Ingrassia
  • Segment Producers - Judy Blank, Patrick Boberg, Dan Bolsem, Laurel Bower, Tyler Brinegar, Josh Buettner, Andrea Coyle, Travis Graven, Deb Herbold, Emily Kestel, Colleen Krantz, David Miller, John Torpy, Peter Tubbs, Paul Yeager
  • Videographers - Matt Clark, Darrin Clouse, Scott Faine, Eric Gooden, Kenny Knutson, Adam Welch
  • Editors - Neal Kyer, Kevin Rivers
  • Audio - David Feingold, Sean Ingrassia
  • Technical Director - Neal Kyer
  • Camera - Melanie Campbell, Sarah Currier, Joshua Woolcott
  • Engineer in Charge - Kevin Rivers
  • Field Reporters - Abby Brown, Travis Graven, Brooke Kohlsdorf, Dana Lain, Charity Nebbe, Blair Ryan, Aaron Steil, Paul Yeager
  • Motion Graphics - Brent Willett
  • Production Assistance - Tiffany Clouse
  • Production Supervisor - Chad Aubrey
  • Graphics - Kate Bloomburg, Joe Bustad
  • Creative Director - Alisa Dodge
  • Digital Team - Danny Engesser, Abby Friedmeyer, Randy Garza, Bryon Houlgrave, Emily Peterson
  • Communications Team - Caryline Clark, Matt Clark, Bo Dodge, Laura Noehren, Hayley Schaefer, Dan Wardell
  • Communications Manager - Sarah Lewis
  • Engagement Manager - Caryliine Clark
  • Programming & Operations Manager - Matthew McPike
  • Director of Communications - Susan Ramsey
  • Director of Emerging Media - Taylor Shore
  • Director of Programming & Production - Andrew Batt
  • Executive Director & General Manager - Molly Phillips

[Announcer] Funding for Fair 2023 is brought to you by Friends, the Iowa PBS Foundation. And by,

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