Fair 2023 - Saturday, August 19

Fair | Episode
Aug 19, 2023 | 55 min

Fair Highlights for Saturday, August 19 include:

  • Fair Prep — 4-H Leadership
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Art Salon History
  • Music of Pioneer Hall
  • Food Judging — Cookies
  • Barrel o’ Fun
  • Tractor Pull
  • Fair Prep — Gardener
  • Pie Eating Contest
  • Fair at Night
  • 4-H and FFA Sale of Champions


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

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[Announcer] Iowa PBS presents Fair 2023. Here's your host Bill Riley.

Hi. I'm Bill Riley and it's Saturday night and welcome to the grand finale of Fair 2023. We're going to finish strong with an amazing assortment of state fair fun. Have we got a great lineup of highlights for you tonight. Like a magic show in the Fun Forest. We'll learn about the history of The Art Salon and how it involves a pretty famous artist. And we'll watch these tricked out tractors as they flex their mechanical muscle. But first up Brooke Kohlsdorf finds some competitive folks who think they know the fairgrounds well enough to win a scavenger hunt. 

[Brooke Kohlsdorf] To celebrate Parks and Recreation Day at the fair they're holding their annual scavenger hunt. It's a popular event. Dozens of teams usually participate and not only do they get some great prizes but more importantly they get bragging rights. 


[Steven Jordison] The scavenger hunt is this. We had a couple of our members go out a couple days ago. They look throughout the entire grounds. They come up with a different scavenger hunt every year. So it's not the same, which is the key. They'll go all over and pick up key points that people have to do. Whether to take a picture by the Butter Cow and have a selfie there, or they got to get a ticket to something else, or they got to bring a wrapper back from from the Varied Industries Building. They start promptly at 1 p.m. on this Thursday and they have until 2:00 exactly. They have to arrive back. Then that information is all gathered and calculated and tabulated by all my volunteers.


[Brooke] Who is this group?

[Jennie Wunderlich] Oh my goodness. This is the Plain View Scavengers. So this is our family team here for the scavenger hunt on Parks and Recreation Day at the Iowa State Fair. Which is the 2nd Thursday of the fair and we compete every year. For the past 5 years maybe. Yeah. Pretty intense. Pretty wonderful.

[Brooke] How many do you have on your team? And how do you deploy? 

[Karen Jones] We have four on our team this year. We have one person that stays and writes and the rest of us just scatter in different directions. We try to, because they have questions that are from one end of the fair to the other. So if you were just running together it would be almost impossible to keep up. So you have to kind of take in sections a little bit.


(Indistinct chatter)


[Brooke] Do you think you're gonna win this year?

[Jennie] Oh golly, what a big question. I don't know. We sure hope we will. We feel really good about our answers but if we don't it's okay. We'll still be back next year. It's so much fun.

[Karen] We've done all these games since my child, is now 23, but when he was really little we played all the games on Thursday. So the the Parks the Rec people know us.

[Emcee] 144 out of 145 points, the Scuttle-Butts.

(Crowd cheering)

[Angie Schaffer] We started scavenger hunting somewhere in the whereabouts of 2002 when she was just a tiny little person, like this size, and found out we liked it and we've stuck with it ever since. And our team has morphed and changed through the years but we all gather collectively for this one day. It's the only day she even comes to the fair just for the scavenger hunt.


[Reporter] For thousands of kids that participate in 4-H each year, the fair is an opportunity to showcase projects and cultivate important skills that last a lifetime. 

My name is Addie Burkett. I'm a 4-Her from Madison County. I am in the Scottish Farm Feeders 4-H Club. Poultry in specific is what I mainly show. Me and my family are really big into egg production and so we always do the pen of three egg layers. It's always been me, my two sisters and then some other people. My favorite thing is, like, they're so chill. If you get the right chicken and the chicken's comfortable with you, you can like literally just sit in a lawn chair and the chicken will just sit there and they're so cute. I don't know. I just really like it. It's a smaller animal so it's a little easier to take care of versus a ewe or steer. But it's still a responsibility and everything. 

[Reporter] Responsibility is a life skill all 4-H members learn. For Addie an EF4 tornado that tore through her hometown of Winterset last spring was a lesson in what it means to also be resilient. 

[Addie] So me, my younger sister and my parents were at home when it happened. I actually have a video and I thought it was really cool and I was, like, skipping out our front door. And I was like, "Oh my gosh this is so cool." Less than 10 minutes later is a video that I have on my Snapchat and it's just me panning our property. Our house is gone. There's a power line. Here's my room. It's supposed to be over there. 

[Reporter] Despite the damage to her house, Addie said it wasn't even a question as to whether or not she was going to continue participating in 4-H. That summer, in addition to showing chickens at the county fair, Addie represented Madison County in the Iowa State Fair Queen Competition. 

[Addie] So at the state fair I ended up winning Personality Plus.

[Contest Emcee] And Personality Plus this year... From Madison County, Addie Burkett.

[Addie] That meant a lot to me. Knowing that all the stuff that I've gone through, people still believed in me and I had a huge support base.

[Reporter] As she prepares to move to college this fall, Addie looks back on her time in 4-H with fond memories.


[Addie] This is 10 years of blood, sweat and tears in 4-H. This is my 4-H record book. This was actually under my bed before the tornado. My bed was the only thing holding up the only wall that was left in my room, but this survived. This is one of the first times that I got my Champion Egg Production Pen of three. Very proud of that. Very proud. This is a big one. Reserve Champion at the State Fair. Of course, it's a little dirty. Can't really wash ribbons all that effectively after a tornado. When I was little I used to think that the ribbons meant everything. But growing up, I would rather look at those pictures and remember like what it was like and how it felt and everything, than to just look at these. They're nice and in the moment of getting them I felt really accomplished and everything. But looking back, it's not all about the ribbons. 

You can feel it. Just the roar and the thunder in the dirt. It's the horsepower. We do this for fun. This is our hobby.

[Paul Yeager] Welcome to the 2023 Truck and Tractor Pulls at the Iowa State Fair. Hello everybody. I'm Paul Yeager. We'll get to highlights of a few classes in a moment but first a few words from the executive vice president of the event. 

[Dave Nelson, Truck and Tractor Pulling Association] We're in our third year of being back from the original Grandstand being remodeled. The Elwell Family Park got put together three years ago, so we're now in year number three of the Truck and Tractor Pull and being here back at the state fair. As an Iowa farm kid, as an Iowa farm boy, that means so much. So we're excited to be back here. The other thing that's very neat about this year is they brought in all new dirt to put in front of the Elwell Park three years ago, 24 inches deep, 100 feet wide track, 400 feet long, is how much new dirt they brought in. A  mix of loam, sand, clay of what we asked them to do in front for a tractor pull track. It's taken about, we knew this, it took about three years for that mother nature, freezing thaw, cover crops, where we have an amazing track now. So it's great. It creates a consistent track. The dirt holds together but not too much to where it creates great traction for both the competitive tractor or truck, but also for the sled to work. As that weight comes up and puts more weight on that track creating friction, that sled works so much better. If you have consistent dirt, not a wet hole or a soft spot or a loose spot, it's all consistent throughout the whole width the whole length of the track. So it creates that much better of a performance an entertainment piece for the crowd and for the competitor. He's got a better shot of having a good pass. Whether he's the first one in the class or the last one in the class. The dirt is remaining consistent. It's not about speed like a race. It's about distance pulled at a tractor pull.

[Paul] Now let's get to that high octane action on that renowned soil. We begin in the modified class. Craig Ulmer from Larchwood, Iowa. He's driving Sweet Pain to a 3rd place finish with a pull of 313.33'. This is Wayne Longnecker. He's driving River Rat. He is out of Cambridge. He is rolling down that river. Down the track. 2nd place pull at 323.32'. Let's try to hang on with Twisted Whip. Donald Nelson out of Cat Spring, Texas. He meows his way down that course. Look at him go. Still hammering. 354.83', 1st place.

On to modifieds. Let's get to another class. This is diesel. This is Brad Hammer. He's conducting the Symphony of Destruction. He's over from Belvidere, Illinois for a 321.11' pull. Good enough for 3rd place. Now Ryan Stahl. He's all Spooled Up. From Claremont, Missouri. Let's see how much he can unravel, uncoil. He's rocking. He's rolling. He's pulling all the way to 2nd place at 327.48'. And now Megatron. Jason Wayman. Novinger, Missouri. More than meets the eye in this truck. He transforms for a 1st place 336.89' pull. 

And now we move to Super Farm Class. Allen Andrews. The Dakota Deere. Out of Beresford, South Dakota. He gets behind that John Deere. That green goes 303.06'. Now it's Chad Andrews also out of Beresford, South Dakota. He's riding the Brule Buck. Also the John Deere. Look at him go. 306.30'. Oh that's good enough for 2nd place. Now Barry Spaans. Double Trouble Unleashed. Out of Rock Valley. Barry Spaans. Barry responds with a huge pull 306.94'. That is your blue ribbon pull. That's all we have time for this year. Be sure to check out all the pull classes in person at next year's fair and tune in to Iowa PBS for select highlights.

(Music) (Engines roaring)

[Bill Riley] It's time to see what you know about the Iowa State Fair with tonight's trivia question. How many trees and flowers are on the fairgrounds? I bet it's more than you think. We'll let you know the answer a little later in the show. Up next the Barrel O' Fun is entertaining crowds at the Fun Forest with some magic and madness. Let's go check it out.


[Trevor Watters] Howdy. I'm Trevor and this is Lorena and we are...

[Lorena Watters] The Barrel O' Fun.

[Trevor] And then these are two characters that we introduced about two years ago now. This is Charlie Chesterfield.

[Lorena] And I'm Delilah Davenport. 

[Charlie] All right now. Thank you. This is how we're gonna play our game. Pop your finger back in there honey. I'm gonna roll some toilet paper up like this right off your fingers. Now I gotta crunch up the toilet paper just like so and I'm gonna mix it up into a little ball. Your job is to tell me which hand has the toilet paper, okay? Awesome. Now if I come nice and close and I count the three. 1, 2, 3. You gotta tell me which hand. This one or that one? Which one? Okay, that was like a practice round. Let's do another practice round make sure we're on the same page. You ready? Here we go. 1, 2, 3. Which hand? Have you played this before? You have? I thought it was only Delilah and I that played with toilet paper. That's good. All right here we go. On the count of three. Ready? 1, 2, 3. Which hand? Try again, try again. Magic. 

[Lorena] We do a lot of audience participation. We like to bring people up. We like to make people smile and keep them entertained and I think I think we do that. 

[Trevor] Yeah, absolutely.

[Delilah] Dylan I just need to check your mobility okay? Can you just move your hips side to side for me? Yeah you can. Oh he sure can. What's he missing folks? A feather boa. Make some noise.

[Lorena] We're very family friendly.

[Trevor] Absolutely. We kind of have that Shrek comedy. So we have jokes for the adults, but they go over the kids heads. So we entertain everyone. Young and old. 

[Delilah] Oh thank you Charlie.  [Charlie] I'll hold these cups for you, it's a little windy. [Delilah] Thank you.  [Charlie] Dylan kind of reminding you your college years? Just a little bit right? Where's the ping pong ball? 

[Trevor] So we started with a whiskey barrel that we would roll around the fairgrounds and entertain people very close up. And then we were asked to take it on to the stage. So it's it's been great.

[Delilah] Dylan stay right there. Make sure to study all the moves okay? Watch me. Here we go. Stay right there. This is exactly how the magic happens. So make sure you're study. All right, here we go. Including the magic shimmy. All right, Dylan. Let's see what you got. Ready? 5, 6, 7, 8, go Dylan. Make some noise. 

[Lorena] Oh my gosh, this fair is amazing. It's so huge. It's so much fun there's so much food. 

[Trevor] Yeah and in hopes not to alienate any other fairs we go to. This is the best fair. 

[Delilah] Magic shimmy. All right. I'm gonna watch you. Last time Dylan. Go ahead. In the circle my friend. Close those eyes. All right. Perfect. Nice feeling. All right Dylan. Turn and face me. On the count of three we're gonna lift up our cup. You ready? 1, 2, 3. And if this magic works this would be great. Follow my lead.

[Bill Riley] Tonight we're going back to the 1930s Art Salon at our great State Fair. It was a well-attended art exhibit in Iowa and the place for painters to show their work. One of those painters was Grant Wood a regionalist artist famous for his iconic works of American culture. Wood dominated the competition in the Art Salon for four consecutive years. The regionalist style became popular in the 1930s with its realistic and detailed depictions of rural life. These artists were well known to be influenced by the social and political currents of the time. 

[Thomas Leslie, Architect and Historian] Politics have always been kind of just under the surface at the Fair and the art competition had tended to be a pretty conservative affair, still life and paintings of animals and things like that. In the '30s, especially as the Depression took hold, a lot of artists were painting themes that were more political.

[Bill] Following his success at the fair, regionalist painter Dan Rhodes was asked to create a mural in the Agriculture Building as a Works Progress Administration project. It depicted the history of Iowa in 110 feet and would take a year to paint.

[Thomas Leslie] And Dan Rhodes in particular painted a mural that showed Iowan farmers sort of hardworking and suffering a little bit, as many were in the '30s. And the reaction to this was really swift. A lot of people had a cultural problem with it. They thought that the mural made Iowans look a little bit bedraggled. But, there was also a political subtext.

[Bill] Fair Secretary Lloyd Cunningham called the work "an insult to Iowa farmers because it depicted them as club-footed, coconut-headed, barrel-necked and low-browed."

[Thomas Leslie] Some politicians thought that the fact that one of the characters was holding a sheaf of wheat in their left hand was a political symbol and tried to claim that this was sort of a secret Communist propaganda being brought into the fair.

[Bill] After only 8 years, the fair board called for its removal, the lumber used in patchwork around the fairgrounds.

[Thomas Leslie] After that went back to a very sort of conservative form of judging, the themes that were allowed or that were permeated were no longer those of kind of farmers laboring or struggling. 

[Leo Landis, State Historical Society of Iowa] There is often criticism of public art and in this case the public art in the Agriculture Building, we don't have that around to appreciate anymore or decide whether it should have lasted.

[Bill Riley] Much of the spirit of the Iowa State Fair comes from the contests and the competitions. Let's see who some of the winners are.

Chess - Scholastic K-6th Grade

  • 1st Place (Tie) - Leviathan Freerksen, Des Moines
  • 1st Place (Tie) - Jet Williams, Waukee
  • 2nd Place - James Corbett, Jr., Altoona

Chess - Scholastic K-8th Grade

  • 1st Place - Gabriel Herman, Carlisle
  • 2nd Place - Brayden Breckenridge, Monroe

Chess - Scholastic 9th-12th Grade

  • 1st Place - Anthony Zachar, Cedar Rapids
  • 2nd Place - Aidan Maring, Des Moines

Chess - Speed Chess

  • 1st Place (Tie) - Jim Freerksen, Des Moines
  • 1st Place (Tie) - Jaleb Jay, Marshalltown
  • 2nd Place - Joel Reyes, Des Moines
  • 3rd Place - Jon Snow, Dubuque

Cow Chip Throwing - Men 17 and Older

  • 1st Place - Ryan McCulley, Des Moines
  • 2nd Place - Terry Thorington, Runnells
  • 3rd Place - Nathan Cranston, Oskaloosa

Cow Chip Throwing - Women 17 and Older

  • 1st Place - Marissa Sharp, Knoxville
  • 2nd Place - Michele Jensen, Grinnell
  • 3rd Place - Kristen Nicholson, Batavia

Cow Chip Throwing - Ages 5-16

  • 1st Place - Wyatt Rosenbalm, Carlisle
  • 2nd Place - Holden Hansen, Altoona
  • 3rd Place - Anthony Zachar, Cedar Rapids

Cow Chip Throwing - Celebrity/VIP

  • 1st Place - Joey Goldstein, Des Moines
  • 2nd Place - Beau Bowman, Clive
  • 3rd Place - Paul Yeager, Ankeny

Ladies Rubber Chicken Throwing - Ages 16-50

  • 1st Place - Jae Wilson, Des Moines
  • 2nd Place - Holly Padgett, Oskaloosa
  • 3rd Place - Cristen Clark, Runnells

Ladies Rubber Chicken Throwing - Ages 51 and Older

  • 1st Place - Becky Reber McAfee, Avondale, AZ
  • 2nd Place - Kelly Spees, Fairfield
  • 3rd Place - Mary Lazard, Urbandale

Kid Sponsored Cookie Championship

  • 1st Place Overall - Eileen Jayjack, Des Moines
  • 2nd Place Overall - Kepler Pienta, Iowa City
  • 3rd Place Overall - Rylan Edwards, West Des Moines

Best Iowa Corn Salad

  • 1st Place - Ann Gillotti, Ankeny
  • 2nd Place - Jamie Buelt, Polk City
  • 3rd Place - Marcia Trevillyan, West Des Moines

Having a "Ball" With Cheese

  • 1st Place - Kathy Poetting, Des Moines
  • 2nd Place - Patty Hunt, Ankeny
  • 3rd Place - Connie Schaffer-Sherman, Pleasant Hill

We've reached the halfway point of tonight's show which means it's time to take a quick break. When we come back we'll finish our coverage of the fair with a taste of just what the state fair is all about. We'll listen to the music in Pioneer Hall. We'll experience the distinctive beauty of the fair at night. And will celebrate the accomplishments of this year's winners at the Sale of Champions. The celebration continues and we plan to finish our Saturday night strong. So come right back for more state fair fun on Iowa PBS.

It's down to the wire at the Riley Stage. The Championships are tomorrow. Here are the young Iowans advancing.

Sprout Champions

  • Abby Lorch, 9, North Liberty, Violin Solo
  • Vivian Speck, 9, Dayton, Vocal Solo
  • Ethan Larsen, 11, Rubik’s Cube Solver, Ankeny

Senior Finalists

  • Makayla Beisel, 16, Clarion, Contemporary Dance Solo
  • Ben Hemsworth, 21, and Gabe Hemsworth, 17, Mount Pleasant, Vocal and Instrumental Duet
  • Nelley Pelzer, 14, James Brown, 17, Kylie Templeton, 16, Drayce Moore, 16, Atlantic, Clogging Quartet
  • Annika Baker, 20, Des Moines, Musical Theater Vocal Solo

Don't forget we'll bring you the Talent Championships here on Iowa PBS Sunday, August 20 at 8pm.

Welcome back everyone. You know Pioneer Hall is such a special place. It's where we find some of our favorite contests year after year. But later in the day it's also a place to escape the hustle and bustle of the fair and enjoy some good old-fashioned music.


[Regina Pirtle] We are at Pioneer Hall. We are at one of the oldest buildings on the grounds. The building was built in 1886. So just think of all the things that have happened since 1886. 

[Lavonne Neerland] We're just enjoying it and relaxing. We have to sit regularly you know.


[Beverly Kaye] I like to help people, and make people happy, and take care of them. And this is taking care of them. They sit there and they enjoy the music and have a good time. I love the Iowa State Fair. I've been doing this since - 1990 was my first time out here singing. And I've loved it every bit of it. 


It's exciting for me to see people get up and dance. Because then I know I'm making them happy. 

[Regina] Now, where else can you go that you see people just, impromptu, just start dancing? It just warms my heart.


[Jerry Beauchamp] Well we play country western polkas, waltzes, all the old country stuff. Acoustics are good. Sound man's good. Just just a nice place. We just want people to dance and have a good time. Just enjoy themselves. I hope they appreciated what we played. We tried to play some of the songs they recognized. I just enjoy playing music.


[Ingrid Johnson] It's actually the first band I've seen this year. But I think they're great. I'm really enjoying it.


It's great. I really enjoy the music. I actually, one of the band members is a colleague of mine. So I'm here to support him. Yeah he's on base. He's doing a good job up there.


[Regina] It is very important that we keep this atmosphere. But people need to discover that so that they can appreciate a slower pace, you know? And the past and all the struggles it took to get where we are now. 

[Beverly] As long as I keep singing I'm alive.


[Dana Lain] With 44 classes of cookies today being judged at the fair, you'd think it'd be absolutely cookie chaos. But nope. The organizers, volunteers and contestants have got these competitions down to a science. There's so much involved in making these cookies. Tell me about the balance of science and creating these cookies.

[Hannah Agran] Well baking is always a balance of science and creativity. But one of the things that's kind of interesting about the fair is it really emphasizes to a certain degree that science more than the creativity. Because you're looking for the perfect version of something. So if you're judging the Peanut Blossom category you really want the perfect Peanut Blossom. Sometimes a little creativity is fun. Yesterday we had a Peanut Blossom that was like a double chocolate Peanut Blossom but we gave the number one spot to the classic Peanut Blossom that was just perfectly executed. 

[Judge 1] Looks like it came out from Sesame Street and Cookie Monster's gonna eat this one. And it tasted just as good.


[Judge 2] These were a taste sensation.

[Judge 3] The medley of fruits in it was just delicious and I felt like you could taste every fruit in it individually and nothing got lost. 

[Judge 4] They're very pretty. Very fresh flavor with the fresh raspberries. And using fresh pureed and raspberry in the buttercream as well. 

[Judge 5] 1st place goes to Mia Frangopol. Congratulations. This was wonderful. I had a hard time stopping and I went from tasting to eating.

[Dana] Tell us about your cookie that you won a blue ribbon for.

[Mia Frangopol] It was an oatmeal Almond Joy cookie. It had sliced almonds in it, oatmeal, coconut and semi-sweet chocolate chips. 

[Dana] Sounds delicious. Did you come up with this recipe yourself or did somebody help you?

[Mia] One of my mom's co-workers made this oatmeal cookie with almonds in it and she cut up the almonds. And so my grandma really loves almonds and she wanted to try to recreate the recipe. So we started out with these trash cookies with cranberries in them and I think it was walnuts. But we decided to take those out and just make it into whatever it is today. 

[Dana] What do you want to be when you grow up?

[Mia] I've always had my heart set on for a medical professional. But baking is definitely a hobby for me. 

[Dana] And there's a lot of science to it.

[Mia] Oh yes. 

[Dana] The Iowa State Fair cookie contests aren't just about ingredients and techniques. Many times there's something deeper like learning self-confidence and exploring that balance between art and science.


[Steven Jordison] We've been around for about 40 years doing IPRA Day at the Iowa State Fair. Got a lot of great activities. It's a wonderful day at the fair. We're excited to have hundreds and hundreds of people here taking part in our activities. 

[Contest Emcee] Here we go. In 3, 2, 1, go! 


Keep cheering them on. The louder your cheer the faster they eat. 

[Contestant 1] I just tried to chew really fast and then take another bite.

[Emcee] And up next we have our 7 to 9 year olds.

[Contestant 2] It's fun. I do it every year.

[Emcee] In 3, 2, 1, go! 


[Tim Loraditch] There was like the big chunks. Like the crust. And so I went for the crust first. I figured that if I got to that first I could get the W. 

[Steven] I think they enjoy it because it's a lot of fun. Just to be able to see people have to get out of their element and have to gobble down a piece of chocolate pie, with cream, with chocolate, crust, as fast as they can without choking on it. So they can get that blue ribbon. So they can keep that for eternity.


[Tim] Nope never done it before. I think six of my kids did this before me and they're like encouraging me to go up. And so I'm the only one to get the blue ribbon so I'm going to rub it in their face when I get a chance. 

[Contestant 2] I don't know. I just eat it really fast and suck it in. 

[Contestant 1] Just because I like eating pie. 

[Steven] The pie eating with the Big Wheel races. The scavenger hunt and bubble gum blowing and the Big Wheel races. Those are the mainstays of our events. If we try to get rid of them I think the public would be upset.   (Crowd cheering)

[Bill Riley] How about the answer to tonight's trivia question. The question was, "How many trees and flowers are on the fairgrounds?" The answer - there are 3,000 trees and 35 new trees were planted in 2023. Two gardeners are responsible for over 12,000 flowers in 27 flower beds on the grounds. And they couldn't take care of it without all of the volunteers. Here's a look at what it takes to maintain our beautiful fairgrounds. 

[Charles McInroy] We have 3,200 trees on the fairgrounds. We have, give or take, a handful of perennial gardens. And we have about 25 annual gardens. Honestly anything that grows on the fairgrounds - we're in charge of as a garden crew. Shrubs, trees, annual flowers, perennial flowers, that's got our name written all over it. That's what we do out here. Really our year starts at the beginning of the year with picking out flowers and planting out our flower beds and stuff like that. And then once spring hits we start taking care of the flower beds. Cleaning out the flower beds. Picking out the weeds. Clearing out anything that was dead from the previous season. And we just get everything ready so that we can start planting and then just go to town with getting everything looking good for the fair.

[Aaron Sudbrock] There's nothing more fun than having your hand in the dirt. Getting dirty. Watching something. Planting it when it's young and then watering it, fertilizing it, and watching it grow. 

[Charles] There is 21 annual flower beds. This one would be considered one. It's got one here. One there. And then one over there. And 13,000 flowers every year depending on the variety. 

[Aaron] First day we planted I had a volunteer and we planted over 800 in one day. From 8:00 to 3:30. That was a pretty good day. I've planted probably 75% of them so they're on the grounds definitely, I've probably planted it. 

[Charles] Volunteers have been awesome and we really enjoy their help because they love gardening and just really cool thing. It's a really cool thing. What we are just finishing up - our planting phase. We do have a few gardens here and there that we are finishing up. We are kind of in our maintaining phase. We're making sure we're fertilizing. We're picking all the weeds. And making sure the flowers have enough water and food to grow and get full for the fair in 50 some days. 

[Aaron] These are magenta vincas. We're going at six inch spacing. And we'll go at kind of alternate so they fill in a little bit better. Put it in there and make sure there's some room in there. Then just lightly fill in around it. You don't want to bury the plant but you also don't want the root sticking up either at the same time. So you want to make sure you're level with the ground. Tamp it in nicely so it'll stand when we water it or any storm or anything like that. 

[Charles] I always think the marquee is one of our our best flower beds. It's on the corner of 30th and University. We have a flower bed up by Pioneer Hall. It is a long walk but it's a pretty cool walk because it's a designed bed that has different flowers in it that spells out a number of the yearly fair. And we do have some new planters that are going to be out on the fairgrounds. They are newly designed and newly painted that are going to be looking pretty good this year too that we're excited about. 

These flowers here - we have vincas and then we have purple fountain grass. The fun thing about these sweet potato vines is - at the end of the year you can take these out of the planter. You can take them home and eat them. 

When you spend all summer preparing these gardens to look good for the fair - after the fair - the gardens do not look good. Things that just happen through those 11 days. That we can't water them all the time or just mother nature takes their toll and they'll die and they just don't look so good. But the days after we're cleaning up the debris and all the stuff from after the fair. So we kind of just maintain the garden still. We make sure they look good. We pull any of the trash out. We pull any of the dead flowers out. We just do a regular thing. You know we're still a garden out here. We still have people who come out after the fair who enjoy the grounds. So we try to keep everything looking as good as possible.

[Paul Yeager] It is time for one final marquee event. It is the Sale of Champions. The first is in the ring. The best of 4-H and FFA in the state of Iowa gets underway now. Up first Mason Shalla with the 4-H Market Steer. Mason who turned 14 this week at the Iowa State Fair. His sister was the Grand Champion Steer exhibitor last year. Sold for $125,000.

Now entering the ring is Klaire Shanks from Colfax. She has the Reserve Grand Champion 4-H Market Steer. And her steer earns $70,000. A new record. 

Now to the 4-H Market Heifer. Nic Reemstsma of De Witt. And this one brings $90,000. Another record.

The Reserve Grand Champion Heifer is Jake Knutson of Estherville. Sold! $52,500. A new record.

To the Hogs.

The Grand Champion 4-H Market Hog. Rilynn Buesing from Stockton, Iowa. Sold! $36,500.

Reserve Grand Champion 4-H Market Hog. Also Rilynn Buesing. Only the 3rd time that that's been done in fair history. The reserve brings $20,000. Congratulations Rilynn. 

Entering now with the Grand Champion FFA Market Hog, Delaney Runner  from Gilman. Get ready for this one. And all all-time, all-species record. $150,000. Wow!

Now the Reserve Grand Champion for the FFA Market Hog. Pierce Woodruff from Moreland. Sold. $28,000. 

Here comes Dayton Mortvedt of Lynnville with the Grand Champion 4-H Market Lamb. Sold $23,000. That's a new record.

Now Sam Schmillen from Marcus bringing in the Reserve Grand Champion 4-H Market Lamb. Sam will be a junior at Remsen St. Mary's this fall and he can go to school saying he sold a lamb for $13,500.

Now the Grand Champion FFA Market Lamb. Brock Bowman from Glidden. Outstanding in his field and good in the ring. Sold for $28,000. A new record. 

Now the Reserve Grand Champion FFA Market Lamb. Makenzie Rule from Hawarden. Sold. $12,500.

Now to the meat goats. The Grand Champion in 4-H. Avery Shalla from Riverside. And that's a sale for $25,000. That's a new record.

Max Petzenhauser from Roland walks in the Grand Champion FFA Meat Goat. And his goat earns $10,500. 

To broilers. Aubrey Otto from Mason City brings in the Grand Champion 4-H Market Broiler. The Grand Champion Broilers earn $12,000. A new record.

Karly Spear in the ring now. From Newton. Brings in the Reserve Grand Champion 4-H Market Broilers. And those broilers bring home $8,000. 

And that's how we finished up. $704,500. A record. Congratulations to all of our exhibitors and bidders.

What do you think of when you picture the fair at night? Is it the rides? The concerts? The fireworks perhaps?

You're probably not thinking of this. The fair at night to me is a city within itself with all the hustle and bustle of things behind the scenes. The fair closing up at night, the fireworks shooting off, and things kind of quieting down towards the evening. Some of us are back in action at work still for the next couple hours getting things ready and prepared for the next day. 

[Reporter] So what happens at the fair after the gates close at night? 

[Man] We have hog load-ins in the middle of the night. We're helping them with stalling assignments. Then we'll run them through the vet check. Looking for different - essentially biosecurity concerns. Whether it's infectious diseases or those types of things. 

[Cody Sacquitne] All the animals that come here are supposed to have a health paper that is looked at by their local veterinarian. 

[Woman] Unfortunately with these three papers he didn't actually fill in an inspection there. If you could get a hold of him at 3:15 in the morning and verify the inspection date and if you could send an amended copy we can allow it. So these three pigs are not... 

[Man] It's much easier in the night when it's dark and cool and there aren't all the crowds and vehicles. When we have load-ins it can be quite chaotic. 

[Marla Clark-Hlas] We could bring 300 trailers in. 

[Doug Hlas] Sometimes we work 20 hour days. We've got a great team. Real great.

In the swine category there's well over 3,000 animals. Cattle there's probably a couple thousand. So a lot of animals. 

Many of our team, when they're new, they go, "Oh my gosh I did not realize that all of this goes on behind the scenes." 

[Reporter] Concessionaires are also hard at work before the gates open in the morning.

[Garrett Ley] Our hours of operation are 8am to 8pm for the general public. There is continuous preparation. The donuts are made from scratch every morning. First night we were here till 12:30. Back in action at 3:30 a.m. to get the donut fryers up and running. 

[Brad Magg] Part of being a brand new fair stand is that we learned that the mixer won't hold 50 pounds of powdered sugar at a time. 

Can I get a two cup measuring cup Jason? 

[Producer] How would you describe the fair at night? 

[Brad] When the people are squared off the grounds and everyone's gone, it's a buzz of golf carts and gators. Like a dance. And the amount of work that gets done in a few hours is just truly amazing. 

[Bill Riley] And that wraps up our final evening of Iowa State Fair coverage. Which means it's probably time for the bloopers. Okay, I probably did something silly along the road. Can we just get this over with? Roll them. 

[Producer]It's not all about you Bill.

[Bill] What? What did I hear? I might be off the hook? 

[Producer] We have something else.

[Bill] Oh no. This is going to be fun. Let's take a look. 

[Charity Nebbe] Oh, I gotta have my hat ready. Okay. 


Are suited up and ready to go. (laughter) Didn't get it on. It didn't go on. 


[Dana Lain] With 44 class of cookie... (loud banging) 

(Producer) Okay, go ahead.

[Brooke Kohlsdorf] To find out what it's all about. Okay, I can't get it. (laughter)

Charlie is from...where's Charlie from? (laughter)

[Patrick Boberg] This is how we treat the talent. They get to ride on the back on, like, a half a square foot of space.

[Blair Ryan] Wooo!

[Paul Yeager] We're going to find out. As long as they don't move.

[Passenger] I think you can make it. Oh no.

[Paul] No, we can't. Wow. I have never been so involved in anything so violent as that.

[Bill Riley] And with that we've come to the close of our Fair 2023 nightly programs. But the Iowa State Fair fun lives on in the digital realm. You can relive the magic by checking out our website and our YouTube channel in addition to our Facebook and Instagram pages. You'll find lots of great state fair fun. There are several ways you can engage with us about our beloved Iowa State Fair anytime, anywhere. Thanks again for joining us on this wonderful Iowa State Fair journey. It's an honor and a pleasure to be a part of this incredible and long-standing tradition. From all of us here at Iowa PBS, I'm Bill Riley, and we know you had 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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