2023 Iowa State Fair Parade

Fair | Special
Aug 9, 2023 | 1 hr 45 min

The Iowa State Fair parade, featuring high school marching bands, floats, cool cars, special causes and more.


(Bill Riley and Charity Nebbe are standing on Grand Avenue in Des Moines, Iowa. Behind them, in the distance above the trees is the golden dome of the capitol building. Both Bill and Charity are wearing light, blue polo shirts. On the left side of their shirts is the State Fair logo in white above the Iowa PBS logo.)

[Bill Riley] Welcome to the 2023 Iowa State Fair Parade. I’m Bill Riley along with my good friend Charity Nebbe. Charity, the energy down here in downtown Des Moines is just fantastic. And with good reason. All of the folks have lined the parade route in the anticipation of the official start of the Iowa State Fair.

[Charity Nebbe] Yes, Bill. It is so great to be back with you again for the kickoff of the Iowa state Fair. The parade is going to start in just a moment. Don’t worry if you don’t get to watch the whole thing tonight, or if your friends and family happen to be missing out. You can go to Iowa PBS.org and find the entire Iowa State Fair Parade. And of course, when you are there you can get access to our six nights of fair coverage highlights.

[Bill] So many ways to keep track of our wonderful coverage of Fair 2023, but I’ve got an idea right now. I think you should settle in right now Maybe grab a corn dog or a funnel cake sounds awful good. But, get ready because we’re going to kick this thing off.  It’s the start to the Iowa State Fair. It’s the Iowa State Fair parade.

[Announcer 1] Funding for Fair 2023 is brought to you by Friends. The Iowa PBS Foundation. And by:

[Announcer 2] For more than 110 years, EMC insurance companies has served policyholders, independent agents and local communities. Providing insurance products for both business and life. Count on EMC.

[Text on screen] Count on EMC

[Text on Screen] Iowa Pork Producers Association Successful Farmers. Enriching Lives

[Text on Screen] Animal welfare with Dr. Cara Haden

[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.

[Text on screen] We care. Animals. Environment. People.

[Start Opening Sequence]

(The Flagcore for Southwest Iowa Marching Band twirling different colored flags as they march down the street.

A Young latino woman in a traditional yellow and red dress with a sombrero riding a horse down Grand Avenue.

A Dance team in pink t-shirts and black shorts completing a routine as they walk down Grand Ave.

Split screen. On the left are trombone players in a marching band marching down the street. On the right is Budwiser Clidsdales pulling the traditional red and gold Budweiser open wagon Two men in green and white uniforms sit on top and in front of the wagon directing the horses down Grand Avenue.

A Young girl wearing a blue top and black cowboy hat waves at the camera.

A Man with a tan baseball cap and glass drives a green tractor down Grand Avenue. A small American Flag and pole is placed in one of the rings on the front side of the tractor.

Split screen. On the left is the Man with a tan baseball cap and glass drives a green tractor down Grand Avenue. In the middle is a clown with a big red nose and a floppy hat dressed in a purple and yellow striped shirt. On the right is the Iowa State Fair queen wearing her tiara and dressed in a red dress.)

[End Opening Sequence]

[Text on screen] Fair

[Text on screen] Des Moines, Iowa

(a top of a hill on Grand Avenue looking down along the street with city of Des Moines skyrise buildings in the background.)

[Charity] We are here, Bill and I, waiting to see the start of the state fair parade. It is so exciting out here. Such a great crowd. And of course, we’re going to the fair bright and early tomorrow morning. What are you most excited about this year, Bill?

(Men and women sitting in lawn chairs along the parade route waving. Children sitting on the curb waving.)

[Text on screen] Charity Nebbe, Bill Riley

(Charity and Bill now sit at a broadcast booth. The back of the booth is made up with a blue cloth with the Iowa PBS logo scattered across the cloth like stars in the sky.)

[Bill] As we said in the opening, this is the official kickoff. Probably the biggest parade in the state. Gosh, there are thousands of people that are down here lining the route, and everyone is so excited. Personally, the talent show is near and dear to my heart. The crowning of the queen is a tradition that is so special to the state of Iowa. Those things are paramount to me. From there there’s a lot of food grazing going on.

(Black and white police with blue and red lights flashing on the top and in the grill. The SUVs roll slowly down the street. Behind the SUVs is the Iowa State Trooper color guard carrying the United States flag and the flag of the state of Iowa.)

[Charity] Right. Right. Well, you were just saying grab a funnel cake, which of course feels like a terrible tease. Because, of course, I can’t grab a funnel cake yet, Bill. You know that. I can’t get a funnel cake until tomorrow.  

[Bill] Charity, you probably can cook those at home, knowing you.


[Charity] I am not going to. 


[Charity] That is not something that needs to get started. Alright, we’ve got the police escort making their way down. And of course, back there behind them, you can see those state fair mascots. It is Fairfield and Rosetta. Leading off the parade.

[Text on Screen] Iowa State Fair Mascots

(Fairfield is a large, light blue, first place ribbon. Around the top of his ribbon above his face are the words “Iowa State Fair”. Fairfield has yellow arms and red hands. Rosetta is a navy blue almost purple first place ribbon. Around the top of her ribbon above her face are the words “Iowa State Fair”. Rossetta also has yellow arms and red hands.

Fairfield and Rosetta are carrying a state fair banner. On the banner is a man in a baseball cap facing backwards carrying several souvenirs from the state fair. The text on the banner reads August 10-20.)

[Bill] And Fairfield was the original location for the first Iowa State Fair. 

[Charity] When was that,1854?

[Bill] I think so. I think you are correct in that. 

[Charity] And it was named Fairfield before the fair was there. That was just coincidental.

[Bill] Correct. Good point.


[Charity] We’ve got our Parade Marshal coming up. Regina Pirtle. If you ever spend any time up at Pioneer Hall, you will see Regina Pirtle. She has been there for so many years, doing such great work up at Pioneer Hall. They put on some great contests like, the fiddle contest, the guitar contest.  

[Bill] Husband calling.

[Charity] Right.


[Charity] The beard contest. 

[Bill] And my favorite.

[Charity] Cow chip throwing.

[Bill] Yep, that’s it. 

[Charity] Have you ever done cow chip throwing?

[Bill] I failed miserably. 

[Charity] Did you?

[Bill] Yeah. I’m not built for it.

[Text on the screen] Regina Pirtle Parade Marshal.

[Charity] Well, Regina Pirtle is a true treasure. She is wonderful and does wonderful work. 

[Bill] What an honor.

[Charity] She was telling me recently how becoming the superintendent of Pioneer Hall was kind of an accident for her. Not something that she intended to do, but she has taken that position and made it her own and done just remarkable work.

(Regina Pirtle has shoulder length, curly black hair and is wearing a black pants with a white suit and a black blazer.)

[Bill] Well said. Remarkable young lady, and what an honor to be Grand Marshal of the Iowa State Fair parade.

[Charity] Now, we got a whole bunch of dignitaries coming past us. Governor, Kim Reynolds, The 43rd governor of Iowa. Serving since 2017.

(Governor Reynolds has shoulder length brown hair and is wearing a red Iowa State Fair polo shirt and jeans)

[Text on screen] Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa Governor

[Bill] Also, Lieutenant Governor, Adam Greg.

[Charity] He’s coming along soon.

[Bill] He’s held the office since 2019. What a beautiful day we got for this wonderful parade.

[Charity] It really is. The weather is almost not fair like. It is so perfect. Look at all these Iowa Highway patrol vehicles through the years.

(a black 1932 Austin Swallow, with Iowa Highway Patrol written in a yellow shield on the side. A 1970s tan highway patrol car with Iowa Highway Patrol written in a yellow shield on the side. A 1990s black, Ford Iowa Highway Patrol car with Iowa High Patrol written in the center of a wide yellow strip that runs the side of the car. The Iowa High Patrol shield can be seen on the rear side panel. A modern gray SUV with Iowa Highway Patrol written in a yellow shield on the side of the vehicle. The SUV’s headlights and red and blue light bar is on. The lights twinkle on and off like they are set to music.)  

[Text on screen] Iowa Highway Patrol

[Charity] Some classic, classic looks. 

(trill of a siren)

[Charity] This takes me back to the 1970s


[Bill] I hope in a good way.


[Charity] I was a child, Bill. It’s all good.

(trill of a siren)

(passenger in the tan Iowa State Highway Patrol car waves.)

[Charity] Look at that. I remember when those were on the road.

(Iowa State Fair dignitaries roll down Grand Avenue.)

[Charity] I think we have our eyes on Attorney General Brenna Bird of Iowa. She was just recently elected to Attorney General of Iowa.

(Attorney General Brenna Bird is wearing a blue polo shirt and jeans. She has shoulder length brown hair.)

[Text on screen] Brenna Bird, Attorney General of Iowa

(Iowa State Fair dignitaries roll down Grand Avenue.)

[Charity] So, you do have me  thinking about fair food, Bill. I’m making my list.

[Bill] Well, You are the consummate fair food person.

[Charity] I always have to take a look at the new foods. 

[Bill] You are the fair food diva.

[Charity] There is Roby Smith. 

[Text on screen] Roby Smith State of Iowa Treasure

(State of Iowa Treasure Roby Smith has short black hair, wears glasses and is wearing a red polo shirt and jeans.)

[Bill] Current state treasure.

[Charity] I am excited to try the butterbeer ice cream. That is on my list.

[Bill] Sounds wonderful.

[Charity] But, there are the things you get every year. You have to get that corn dog, right?

[Bill] Yes-s-s

[Charity] You are at the fair enough. You can try everything.

[Bill] I’m a big fan of watermelon in the morning and a cup of fruit.

[Charity] Very nice, start off slow. Start off healthy.

[Bill] Exactly. Mike Naig. Secretary of Agriculture going by. Assumed the office in 2018. Doing a fabulous job.

(Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture is wearing a red polo shirt and jeans)

[Text on screen] Mike Naig Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

[Charity] There is Paul Pate, Secretary of State

(Paul Paťe, Secretary of state is wearing a red polo shirt and jeans)

(White Iowa State Fair Police SUV rolls by with red and blue light bar and red and blue grill lights flashing) 

[Charity] I think we already have some royalty coming our way in just a moment. There is Ruth Ann Gaines. Representative, Ruth Ann Gaines. Lots of dignitaries here at the beginning.

(White pickup truck with Iowa State Fair on the side rolls by pulling a covered trailer. The trailer has a sign that reads “Best Days Ever August 10-20”) 

[Charity] There is the Iowa State Fair Board. It consists of the Governor, The Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the President of Iowa State University plus 2 directors from  each of 6 geographic districts. Also, a secretary, a manager and a CEO. It’s a lot of people that work together. And of course, this is only a tiny portion of those that work together to make the Iowa State Fair work each year.

[Text on screen] Iowa State Fair Board Members

[Bill] We want to congratulate Jeremy Parsons. He is the new Secretary Manager of the Iowa State Fair. 

[Charity] Fulfilling a lifelong dream.

[Text on screen] Mary Ann Fox 2022 Iowa State Fair Queen]

(Mary Ann Fox is wearing a tiara, sunglasses that cover her eyes and a long, white, sleeveless dress. She has a purple sash that is lying diagonally across her body.)

[Charity] Now, we are moving on to royalty. The Iowa State Fair Queen. The 2022 Iowa State Fair Queen, Mary Ann Fox from Mitchell County. Daughter of Karl Fox and Kari McClure.

[Bill] I had the pleasure of working with her a few times at the corndog kickoff, annual fundraising; and she is just a delight.  She is just a tremendous inspiration to so many young ladies across the state.

[Text on the screen] 2023 Queen Candidates

(The 2023 Iowa State Fair queen candidates are sitting together on white wooden benches inside an open-air trailer. They are dressed in colorful dresses. They each have a light blue sash that lays diagonally across their bodies.)

[Bill] She only has three more days at the Iowa State Fair. 

[Charity] So, now we’ve got the queen candidates from all over the state.

[Bill] Correct. A potential of 104 queens from the state. Obviously some counties have more than one county fair. But, typically, there are 100 to 102 queens; and they are all spectacular.

[Charity] They all look like they are having so much fun. Judging is based on personality, attitude, leadership, citizenship and contribution to their communities. I did not realize that the first queen was crowned in 1964, Beth Houlette. That does not go back as far as I expected it to.

[Bill] True.

[Charity] But it is still quite a long tradition.

[Bill] And Bill senior crowned her.

[Charity] Did he?


[Bill] Yep. I have some great, old photos with pops with the early queen pageant.

[Charity] Nice.

[Bill] A tremendous tradition out here at the State Fair. Just tremendous.

[Charity] Their beautiful royalty waves. Wrist, wrist, elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, elbow, elbow. You  can practice that at home. Bill, you have practiced that quite a lot, right?


[Bill] Yeah. I’d probably get tennis elbow from over waving.


[Text on screen] Iowa State Fair Volunteers

[Charity] Absolutely. Now we have the Iowa State Fair volunteers coming in our way. There are so many volunteers that come together to make the Iowa State Fair work. Of course, that is a small number of the hundreds, maybe thousands of volunteers that come together every year. I mean, so many hours volunteering.

(a green tractor pulling an open-air, covered white trailer with volunteers sitting on benches inside the trailer. The volunteers are all wearing red t-shirts and waving to the crowd lining the parade route..)

[Bill] Yes.

[Charity] And, of course, they help with absolutely everything. Gate admissions, welcoming fair goers, scanning admission tickets, hand stamps for reentry, directions.

[Bill] Directions alone.

[Charity] Directions alone.

[Bill] Well, there are 400 acres out here. If you are not familiar with it, If you are new to the Iowa State Fair, then a smiling face and a gentle point in the right direction could make all the difference in the world.

[Charity] And I think there is pretty clearly a hierarchy of volunteers. I think the people who give people rides around the fairgrounds, you have to work up to that. That’s a pretty special level of volunteering.


[Bill] That is true. You just don’t drop in a golf cart.

[Text on screen] Blue Ribbon Foundation

(a man with graying short hair and a beard wearing a blue striped polo shirt and shorts. Beside him is a woman with blonde hair and a light blue shirt and shorts. They are sitting up in the back of a metallic blue cadillac. The door of the Cadillac has a circular logo on it that reads “Corndog Kickoff”.)

[Charity] There is the Blue-Ribbon Foundation. The Blue-Ribbon Foundation is a nonprofit that helps to raise funds to preserve and improve the Iowa State Fairgrounds. It was founded in 1993, a reaction to a real need as a lot of these old buildings on the fairgrounds were deteriorating, and nobody knew how that was going to get covered; but of course, everybody loves the buildings and the fair. And, you can always get a Fair Square to support the Blue-Ribbon Foundation.

[Text on the screen] AT & CO Dance Studio

(The dancers are wearing light, blue tank tops with black shorts. Each girl has a white bow in her hair. They are doing a dance routine as they move down Grand Avenue.)

[Charity] Now, we are pumping it up.

[Bill] Here we go. This is your favorite part.


[Charity] It is one of my favorite parts. The AT and CO Dance Studio out of Des Moines.

[Bill] Their mission is to inspire a work ethic in their young dancers and have some fun. Nominated for the metro’s best dance studio and gymnastics studio. That is quite a nomination. 

[Charity] That is. Lots and lots of enthusiastic dancers in the parade tonight. That is great to have that kind of turnout. 

[Text on screen] The Central Iowa “Model A” Club

(a dark green, Ford pickup Street Rod, A Lavender with white accents Lo Boy, open engine Street Rod, A Black Model , A Dark green Model A)

[Charity] Now, we have the central Iowa Model A Club, which I love. Love these cars.

[Bill] They are our favorite. 

[Charity] Wait. Didn’t you just say something else was my favorite, Bill?

[Bill] Well, the dance. They are all our favorite.


[Charity] They are. They are.

[Bill] I am a frustrated gearhead, and these old pieces of art just. . .

[Charity] Oh, they are incredible. 

[Bill] Rolling by. . .the hours. . .

[Charity] And they have been restored so immaculately.

[Bill] Absolutely. Labor of love. They just keep them going.

[Charity] Model A in production from 1928 to 1931. And this club was started in 1961 by Bob Darr. The club is historical as well. Around for a good long time.

(a canary yellow hardtop Model A with an open engine, a dark army green hardtop Model A followed by a black hardtop Model A)

[Bill] I didn’t know this. 1933, due to the Great Depression, Ford discontinued its plant operations in Des Moines. I was not aware that they had produced some Model A’s in Iowa. Of course Duesenberg was a car company. There were so many. 

[Charity] Right. Well the Ford assembly plant right at 19th and Grand in Des Moines. That is so interesting to think about. 

(A red and black convertible Model A, followed by a black and tan hardtop Model A with red hubcaps and white walled tires)

[Charity] Of course, those Model A’s just ran forever. 

[Bill] They still are.

[Charity] Yep. these are.


[Charity] You probably don’t have one in your garage. Of course, you had to change the tire every 10 miles or so.

[Bill] Yep. They did not have concrete roads.

(a canary yellow Model A with an open engine)

[Bill] Beautiful stuff.

[Charity] So, that old plant that we are talking about. The Des Moines School District bought that building. That is where Tech High School is on Central Campus.

[Bill] That is amazing.

[Charity] Isn’t that?

[Bill] Yeah.

[Text on screen] WHO 13

(The evening meteorologist on WHO dark hair wearing a white polo shirt and two women with blonde hair. One wearing a white polo shirt and jeans and the other one wearing a blue polo shirt and jeans ride in the back of a modern steel gray Ford pickup truck.) 

[Bill] What a tradition in Iowa. W. H. O. TV channel 13 started in 1954. Authorized telecast on channel 13. Amazing. Affiliated with the NBC Network. Charity, this may date you a little bit. Early viewers saw local, live programming featuring many radio favorites. Slim Hayes. Jack Shelley. Bill Austin. The Buckaroos. And of course, the very amazing Herb Clambeck, Romper Room with Ms. Nancy, and of course Duane Ellett and Floppy.

[Charity] We all loved The Floppy Show. 

[Bill] And let’s go bowling with Jim Zabel.

[Charity] My cousins got to be on the Floppy show. I was so jealous. All right. Now I hear the band. The Des Moines East High School Marching Scarletts.

[Text on the screen] Marching Scarlets, Des Moines East High School

[Bill] Here they come.

[Charity] Awesome. Got a little more royalty going past us right now. Oh my goodness. Look at those dresses. Just lovely. 

(two young girls riding on the back of a white convertible. One young girl is wearing a dark green dress with the skirt of the dress laid out over the trunk of the car in a wave of color. The dress has sections of sequence and embroidery.) 

[Charity] I’m going to put out a personal plea for more marching bands. I feel like during the pandemic there was an interruption in a lot of the marching bands. We are not seeing as many. Please come back to the parade, or start a new tradition.

[Bill] And some floats. I want floats. 

[Charity] Okay. Marching bands and floats. Yes please. 


[Text on the screen] Downtown Neighborhood Association of Des Moines

[Charity] The Downtown Neighborhood Association of Des Moines is here. Downtown Neighborhood Association is one of 57 neighborhoods represented within the city of Des Moines. Showing their community pride.  Wonderful to see them.

(woman on an electric powered ice cream scooter waving)

[Bill] Yes. 

[Charity] Still walking. Is that an ice cream. . .That is great.

[Bill] Oh my goodness. Pull her over. 

[Charity] Absolutely. Hello. 

[Bill] Bomb pop, please.


[Charity] I love to see the marching bands. I love it also that so many of them get to wear shorts. That just seems really humane. When I marched in the State Fair parade, we had to wear our full uniforms, and we had a really long pep talk about how not to faint.

[Bill] Good to know.

[Text on screen] Iowa Wolves

[Charity] Yep. There are the Iowa Wolves.

(The mascot for the Iowa Wolves stands on the running board of a gray pickup truck with the Iowa Wolves logo on the side of the truck.)

[Bill] MBA’s G league based here in Des Moines. What great fun. It is really high quality basketball.

[Charity] Affiliated with the Minnesota Timber Wolves as you just might guess. 

[Text on the screen] Simpson College

[BIll] Lots of fun. Simpson College based in Indianola.  Named in honor of Bishop Mattew Simpson. It has been called Simpson since 1885 down there in Warren county. Got some many friends down in that neck of the woods. 

[Text on the screen] Iowa District Optimist International

[Charity] Here is the Iowa District Optimist International. The Iowa District Optimists make it their mission to provide hope and positive vision. Bring out the best in kids. Do a lot of fundraising. Do a lot of good work. 

[Bill] Makes a difference in people's lives. It’s a lot of volunteer work.

(A man in a red Simpson College t-shirt walks towards the camera cheering.)


[Charity] There is some more enthusiasm from Simpson College, there.

[Bill] Even brought their mascot.

[Charity] Nice.

(Thunder the Elephant rides on the back of a golf cart. Thunder is dressed in a red basketball uniform with a wide gold and white stripe across his chest.)

[Text on the screen] Iowa Society Daughters of the American Revolution

(bagpipes playing the Star Spangled Banner )

[Bill] Iowa Society Daughters of the American Revolution. It is a nonprofit, no political, charitable organization founded in 1890. Iowa is the home to 42 chapters across the state. It has nearly 1,800 members. 

[Charity] That is some impressive Bagpiping. Wow. Do you think she’s going to bagpipe all the way through the parade?

[Bill] She has a little ways to go, yet.

[Charity] I hope she gets to breathe every once in a while.

[Bill] I’d run up. Catch the gal that had the ice cream cart, if I was her.


[Charity] The Daughters of the American Revolution promotes American history throughout the year by honoring historically significant people, places, dates and events. I think that it is pretty safe to say that they are also pretty heavily into cause play. They have some awesome costumes out there.

[Bill] They sure do.

[Text on the screen] DMI Dance Force

[Charity] All right. More dancers. The DMI Dance Force. 

[Bill] Award winning for choreography and costuming. Performed with the Harlem Globetrotters. Halftime show. 

[Charity] Wow. They have been on contract with the NFL Kansas City Chiefs, Junior Cheer program, and have received the metro’s best of the best award for 2021 and 2022. That is a lot of accolades.

(The BMI Dance force dancers wearing rose colored glasses are dressed in black and pink t-shirts with black shorts.)

[BMI Speaker] What are you all doing? Sing the song!

(The dancers clap and dance as they move down Grand Avenue. Dancers wave and cheer as they walk past.)

[BMI Speaker] I need you all to sing!

[BMI Dancers] “Hey, I just met you. And this is crazy. 

[BMI Speaker] Sing!

[BMI Dancers] “But here’s my number. So call me maybe. It's hard to look right at you, baby” 

[Charity] Bill, are you going to sing a little Carly Rae Jepsen for us too?

[Bill] Well, I think we should go out there and do some cartwheels, Charity.


[Bill] Just, break things up a little bit. 

[Charity] Yeah. Sure. Maybe later?

[Bill] Maybe just break things a little bit.

(A dancer is holding a sign that reads “DMI Loves the Iowa State Fair” with “loves” being represented by a heart.)

[Charity] Oh my gosh. There are so many of them. This is so many dancers.

[Bill] Yep. That’s bigger than last year. 

[Charity] Love it.

(BMI dancers riding in an open trailer waving.)

[Bill] Wonderful.

(BMI dancers riding in an open trailer waving.)

[Charity] Awesome.

(BMI dancers riding in an open trailer waving.)

[BIll] So important to keep these youngsters busy. Dance is a super way to do it. 

[Charity] They are future stars of the Billy Riley Talent Show.

[Bill] Yes. 

[Charity] For Sure.

[Bill] There are quite a few in there. That are going to be out at the stage.

 (BMI dancers riding in an open trailer waving.)

[Charity] I would love to know how large their t-shirt order was. That is awesome. That is so great.

[Bill] Extensive, yeah.

[Charity] Absolutely.

[Bill] That’s a nice order, if you can get it.

(A multicolored DART bus. The electronic sign reads “Welcome to DART”.)

[Bill] Oh, they are so beautiful.

[Charity] All right. Now we have DART.

[Bill] Des Moines Area Regional Transit. 

[Charity] Such an important part of the fair.

[Bill] Charity, by far through the years, this has become the go to way to get to the fair.

[Charity] It’s the best way. It is the best way to get to the fair.

[Text on screen] Des Moines Area Regional Transit (DART)

[Bill] You can park at Southeast Polk or the capitol area. Hop on a bus. They take you in. Drop you off. When you are done, you hop on the bus at the fair and off you go.

[Charity] When you are done and completely exhausted and your feet are sore. You are so hot. You hop on the bus and you sit down; and it’s air conditioned and they take you almost right to your car. It is the best thing ever. 

[Bill] It is. My wife Bridget swears by it. I have tickets to get in and the parking pass, and she’s like “no thanks, drop me off at the capitol. I’ll meet you in there”.


[Bill] That’s how efficient it is. 

[Charity] Nice.

[Bill] Des Moines Public Schools. It’s Iowa’s largest school district in the state. Serving over 30,000 students. More than 60 schools throughout the communities. 

[Charity] Welcoming a new superintendent this year. Dr. Ian Roberts. 

[Text on screen] Des Moines Public Schools

[Bill] And of course, Cloris Leachman attended. Academy award winner.

[Charity] One of the many, many luminaries to graduate from the Des Moines Public Schools.

[Bill] Bill Bryson.

[Charity] Bill Bryson is another one.

[Bill] Thunderbolt Kid, I believe isn’t it?

[Charity] Yep. Among many others.

(A box truck drives down Grand Avenue. The side of the truck reads “Come Here. Become Here”. Between the words “Become” and “Here”  is an editing symbol - the carrot, with the words “The Best You” under the carrot)

 [Charity] It is back to school time so soon. 

[Bill] Right around the corner.

[Charity] Teachers are getting their classrooms ready. 

[Bill] In our neighborhood. You probably see the same thing in your neighborhood. All the moms and dads get down there on the corner. They get the kids on the bus. The bus takes off. The moms are all high-fiving each other. 


[Bill] They got their lives back.

[Charity] They are  just excited for their kids to learn, though. 

[Bill] There was no inference there.

[Charity] I’ll see, occasionally, parents out for a long walk. I use to take the kids to school. You would see the parents walking with each other. Friends visiting. Catching up. That looks like a really good use of your morning. 

[Bill] Cup of coffee and go for a stroll.

[Charity] Over 30,000 students in Des Moines Public Schools. We have Yellow Brick Road coming our way. 

[Bill] Early childhood development for kids in the metro area.

[Text on the screen] Yellow Brick Road

(A small, white school bus with colorful flags hanging on a string across the windows.)

[Charity] Also an essential part of life. Good child care.

[Bill] Exactly.

[Charity] Oh, It’s great to see the crowd. Having fun out there.

(A small boy in an off-white t-shirt, dark shorts and a red ball cap waves.)

[Bill] Charity, It’s a surprise. I got you not a diamond but a truck full of diamonds.

[Charity] A truck full of diamonds?

[Bill] It’s coming up.

[Charity] Okay. Alright. Well I can’t wait.

(a trailer carrying veterans. On the side of the trailer it reads “Iowa Submarine Veterans”.)

[Charity] We’ve got the Iowa submarine veterans making their way past. 

[Text on the screen] Submarine Veterans of Iowa and USS Iowa SSN 797

[Charity] The SSN 797 is the fourth US Navy ship to bear Iowa’s name, but it’s the first submarine to be named after the Hawkeye state.

[Bill] First attack submarine designed to provide privacy and accommodations for female service members, as well. 

[Charity] And the submarine was just christened on June 17th, 2023 by Christie Vilsack, who was the former First Lady of Iowa. 

[Bill] Not sure I could do submarine duty. 

[Charity] Well, I admire those who do and have.

(A white pickup truck hauling a trailer with a model of the USS Iowa SSN 797.)

[Charity] There is a model of the SSN 797. The real one is larger, Bill. So don’t panic. 

[Bill] I wouldn’t even fit in that one.

[Charity] No. 

[Text on screen] The Iowa Department for the Blind

[Charity] The Iowa Department for the Blind is marching. The Iowa Department for the Blind is the state vocational rehabilitation agency for individuals who are blind or have low vision, and their mission is to empower blind Iowans to live their fullest lives. It’s a department that helped my grandfather a great deal. It really changes lives.

[Bill] Wonderful. Helps them to become gainfully employed. Live independently. Magnificent organization. 

[Charity] We are going to do a fair flashback, now to 1978. 

[Bill] This will be a good one.

[Start of Flashback Sequence]

(A marching band in full uniform marching down Grand Avenue swinging their instruments to the beat of the music

Iowa Pork Queen sitting on a float in a white jumpsuit with a shiny, bright green shirt.

A marching band in full dark blue uniform jackets and black pants marching down Grand Avenue.  

A marching band in black, red and white uniforms with M. H. S. on the front marching down Grand Avenue.

Men in white shirts waving.

A marching band standing still as a flagcore in yellow and green uniforms and colorful flags pass vertically through the band.

A marching band in a red, white and black uniform with a script C on the front marches and plays.

A marching band with black uniforms accented with gold and maroon lapels marches and plays.)

(White trucks with satellite dishes on top follow the marching bands.)

[End of Flashback Sequence]

[Charity] Oh, wow. The skyline has changed dramatically since 1978, hasn’t it.

[Bill] I’ll say. Things are a little different.

[Charity] We have got more awesome dancers coming our way. 

[Text on screen] True Talent Dance

(Dancers are in pinstriped outfits with pink ruffled cuffs. They are wearing sparkly black and pink tennis shoes. They are completing a routine as they move down the street.)

[Charity] True Talent Dance. Based out of Waterloo. So they made quite the trip up here.

(Whistle counts out a four beat rhythm)

[Bill] Celebrated their sixth anniversary just last month. 

[Charity] Nice.

[Bill] Many styles included in their repertoire. Hip-hop, Majorite, Pom, Lyrical and Spiritual.

(A young child dances to the music on the side of the road.)

[Charity] True stands for Talent Revealing Unlimited Excellence. Love this energy. Their mission is to facilitate physical fitness and creative expression, which is nice because you can do both at the same time. Alright. We’ve got Junior Ms. Iowa and Ms. Iowa Youth program.

[Text on the screen] Ms. Iowa Youth Program

[Bill] Celebrated their 30th anniversary. Will crown the 31st state Iowa title holder in July of 2024.

[Charity] Peyton Yocom and Lola White.

[Bill] Congratulations.

(A domino's delivery car)

(A young boy dressed in a gray shirt and red shorts waves and smiles.)

[Charity] That’s the happiest Domino’s Pizza delivery kid I’ve ever seen.


[Text on Screen] Downtown Domino’s

[Charity] I expect a smile like that with my next pizza.

[Bill] Exactly.

(B-Pop’s delivery van)

[Bill] Can’t beat B-bop’s burgers. One of my all time faves.

[Text on screen] B-bop’s Restaurants

[Charity] Well we’ve got a burger. Obviously not the Burger King. Let’s not get confused. But, we’ve got a B-bop Burger King and a burger.

[Bill] This is really making me hungry. So, the ice cream went by. They didn’t stop. The burgers are going by, they’re not stopping. How about some frys?

[Charity] It’s a good time to start planning what you are going to get at the fair tomorrow. 

[Bill] Alright, let’s stop worrying about Bill’s stomach and talk about Central Iowa Orthodontics.

[Charity] Alright. Because what’s more fun than braces? Braces rule.

[Bill] That’s right.


[Charity] I think getting them off is fun. 

[Bill] Boy, has that come a long way.

[Charity] Radically. Radically better than it once was. Oh, the stories we could tell kids. 

[BIll] Some more dance excitement coming along Vibes Dance Creations. 70 children dancing at the parade.

[Text on screen] Vibes Dance Creations

[Charity] Their tossing water, I think. It is. It’s a little bit warm out there. Working all summer on their performance. 

[Bill] How much fun this must be to be in the parade. Great memories. I’ve got socks older than most of those children. They get to be my age they can remember dancing in the parade.

[Charity] Alright. We had Junior Miss Iowa a few minutes ago. Now, we’ve got Elder Miss Iowa? No. Miss Iowa. 

[Text on screen] Miss Iowa Scholarship Organization


[Charity] Alysa Goethe and Juliana Clark

[Bill] Representing Iowa in the Miss America competition in January. Coming up in January 2024.

[Charity] Miss America is 100 years old. And, was one of the first organizations in the United States to offer college scholarships to women. Radical, women in college. Who would have thought.


[Charity] I’m so greatful. So grateful for things like that, that have changed. More royalty. A lot of sparkle out there. Rachel Kiel. Miss Black Hawk county. Lovely. We’ve got a lot of royalty making their way past us right now.

[Bill] Lots of tiaras.

[Charity] Yep.

[Bill] So, if you had the account for t-shirts and tiaras, you are in.

[Charity] This is the season for tiaras.

[Bill] You had a banner year. 

[Charity] There is Miss Scott county. You’ve dealt with a lot of the State Fair queen candidates over the years. Has there been a fashion trend in tiaras? Do they change over the years, or is that a pretty classic statement?

[Bill] I’m going to go with “B”, the classic statement. 


[Bill] I haven’t paid attention. 

[Charity] I wonder if they get passed down from queen to queen, princess to princess? If you can’t make it to the fair of course, we have you covered with Iowa PBS. For over 50 years, Iowa PBS has been showcasing the best of the Iowa State Fair. 

[Text on the Screen] Nightly Fair Highlights August 14 through 19 at 9:00pm 

[Charity] You can tune in each night of the week, Monday through Saturday at 9:00 or 10:00 pm to see the fair  like you won’t see it anywhere else, right here on Iowa PBS. You don’t want to miss it.

[Bill] Central Iowa Tractor Club. 

[Text on the screen] Central Iowa Tractor Club

[Charity] Now we were talking earlier about those Model A’s that were just immaculately restored. Same with these tractors.

[Bill] Same psychoses. Same issue.


[Charity] Same skill and care, I think.

[Bill] Same therapist. The whole thing.


[Charity] Well. Nothing runs like a Deer.

[Bill] I am a big fan of tractor pulls, and if you go to some of the tractor pulls they have the antique class. And, they actually got some of the old tractors out. They are amazing to watch. 

[Charity] It’s kind of mind boggling. The variety, really.

[Bill] And, the simplicity. But, the durability. It fascinates me. Again, I’m a bit of a gearhead so this stuff just. . .

[Charity] And I know most families. You were either a Deer family or you were a Farmall family. You stuck with your kind of tractor. But, I grew up in Deer country. So, It was kind of a surprise to me to grow up and discover there were so many different kinds of tractors. You grew up in Black Hawk county, everybody was driving John Deer, trust me. 

[Bill] Charity, you know me as well as anybody. So, I’m  on stage. Riley Stage. And, we’re judging or something. It’s a low point in the show. So I ask the crowd. “How many people are red tractors fans and how many are green. We almost had a little fist-to-cuffs going. I mean they are serious about their tractor color. 

[Text on screen] Maggie Rivers Romance Author (and Friends)

[Charity] There is Maggie Rivers, a romance author. Friends along with. Lovely. That’s so fun. Is that a sunflower? Is she wearing a sunflower?

(The lady sitting beside Maggie Rivers is in a green outfit with a white, petal shaped hat.)

[Bill] It’s beautiful.

[Charity] Where’s your sunflower? 

[Bill] Here comes School of Rock. Based out of West Des Moines. They have helped so many youngsters 

[Charity] So Bill, the concerts are one of the big draws at the state fair. Who have you seen? 

[Bill] A little Black Sabbath, there. I would default to one of my all time favorites, would have been Stevie Ray Vaughan. First popped into my head. I saw Cream, Vets Auditorium. Janis Joplin. I’m an old guy. But, I do love the young kids getting back into rock, and School of Rock does a great job with them. 

[Charity] Nice. You saw Johnny Cash, too. Didn’t you?

[Bill] It was magical. Charity and I were talking about that before we started. My dad. Well, he didn’t make me, but he talked me into going to see Johnny Cash at the state fair. And, I still remember it. It was magical. 

 [Charity] I just have goosebumps thinking about it.

[Bill] He had a huge American flag behind him, and he came out. Man in black. It was history from there on. I was a huge fan. 

[Charity] That just feels central Americana. There are those artists that have shaped our culture in so many ways. Johnny Cash is one of those artists. And you were there.

[Bill] And the Carpenter family. I stumbled across, on one of the music channels, some beautiful old tracks of old country. Just what you said, Charity. It is just an amazing part of Americana. 

[Text on the screen] Just Having Fun

[Charity] We’ve got a whole bunch of Volkswagens here.  Just having fun.

[Bill] Love VWs.

[Charity] And the vans.  Oh, my gosh. They keep saying they are bringing back the vans.

[Bill] The old ones are worth a fortune.

[Charity] Well, anybody who can keep one running is never going to let go of it, unless you give them a lot of money. 

[Bill] That’s true. Get to know your mechanic, if you have an older VW. 

[Charity]. That’s right. That’s right. I had a friend who had one of the older vans. He was always working on it. But, he was never going to let it go. 

[Bill] They are amazing vehicles. My sister, Peg, had one. She let me drive it from time to time, and I proceeded to back it into a pole.

[Charity] Oh, Bill.

[Bill] Sorry, Peg.

[Charity] It’s a moment I’m sure you will never forget. It’s a visceral feeling.

[Bill] Yes.

[Charity] You can put yourself right there in that moment again.

[Bill] There are some of the buses that you were talking. . .And the camper.

[Charity] The camper vans are so cool.

[Bill] It's a 1967. Those are worth. . .I don’t even want to tell you what that’s worth.

[Charity] Well, they are so perfect, why did we ever let that go? Alright, so we are moving from VWs to Dune buggies. 

[Bill] I think that was called the thing. That’s a modified. . . That’s a dune buggy. The Volkswagen, obviously it was the people's car. Dates back to Hitler. Go old German engineering. 

[Charity] Alright. We have another dance troop coming our way. Dance Avenue. Based in Des Moines. Awesome.

[Bill] Again, Dance coming through. Kids participating in Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Lyric, Hip-Hop and Tumbling. Over 95 young people dancing today.d

[Text on screen] The Dance Avenue

[Charity] Nice

[Bill] Each year, young women from across the state come together in a showcase of leadership, citizenship and pageantry; and their all vying for the coveted crown you won’t want to miss. It’s the Iowa State Fair crowning of the new Iowa State Fair Queen. Livestream the coronation with us Saturday night at 7:00 pm on YouTube or Iowa PBS.org slash fair. Without a doubt, one of the finest traditions at the Iowa State Fair. Crowning of the queen. 

[Text on screen] Iowa State Fair Queen Coronation Livestream Saturday at 7:00 pm.

[Text on screen] Crest Services

[Charity] One of the things that kind of boggles my mind about the fair is that it opens tomorrow, but the fairgrounds have been just a hive of activity for days already. I know, I was just talking who has been competing in the jams and jellies competition. So, those have already been judged. 

[Bill] A lot of people don’t realize a lot of these contests have already been judged. It’s amazing. 

[Charity] Can’t fit it all into 11 days.

[Bill] The term, “were it not for the last minute, nothing would get done” applies right now to the Iowa State Fair. It’s a buzz of activity, I’ll tell you.

 [Charity] We just saw Crest Services going by. Crest Services provides residential services to individuals with mental and developmental disabilities. People from Cedar Rapids, Harlan, Ottumwa, Sharondon and Mason City at the parade tonight. That’s awesome.


[Bill] It is. Beautiful.


[Charity] One of my favorite parts of the Iowa State Fair has always been witnessing the incredible talent of young Iowans. And, you know Bill, It seems like the competition gets better, and better every year. I think you’ve witnessed that first hand. 


[Text on Screen] State Fair Talent Championship Sunday, August 20 at 8:00 pm


[Charity] If you can’t make it to the Bill Riley Stage, you can watch the 2023 Iowa State Fair Talent Championship on Sunday, August 20 at 8:00 pm right here on Iowa PBS.


[Bill] And we are so fortunate to have the state network showcase that championship. These youngsters work very hard to get to that level. It’s always a magical show. So, make sure you tune in to the talent championships. 


[Charity] I’m so impressed with Press Services recruiting people from all over the state. They have such a big group in the parade. That’s so fun.  


[Bill] It’s wonderful.

[Charity] I hope they are sticking around for the fair tomorrow. You know, Bill. I have been going to the Iowa State Fair for, I don’t know, probably 5 or 6 years as an adult, before I ever visited the Iowa State Fair campgrounds. One of my favorite things about the fair is there’s this whole. . .You can go. You can visit. But, there are so many people living it. It’s a completely different culture.

[Bill] There is a photo from a drone in the administration building. In the board office. That shows the campground from the air, and it will take your breath away. It’s way, way bigger than I ever imagined. 

[Charity] And the amount of work that people put in to their specific campsites is mind boggling.

[Bill] And the staging. 

[Charity] They have more decorative stuff at one of those campsites then I have in my whole home. 

[Bill] Exactly. Some of those campsites have been passed down for generations

[Charity] I forget how long the waiting list is, but it’s probably longer than I’ll be alive.

[Text on the screen] Iowa Honey Producers

[Bill] The next one is a sweet one.

[Charity] The Iowa Honey Producers. Around since 1912, And of course, you have always got to visit the Iowa Honey Producers at the Iowa State Fair. They are in the agricultural building. 

[Bill] Never miss it.

[Charity] You need to have the honey lemonade. 

[Bill] Never miss it.

[Charity] The Iowa Honey Producers help coordinate the interests of bee keepers of Iowa. Did you know that Iowa ranks 16th nationally in honey production. 

[Bill] That doesn’t surprise me with all of the pollinator’s opportunities, if that makes any sense. But, boy it’s good stuff. I love it. I do a lot of cooking, and if I can substitute honey in there if it’s calling for some sweetener, it always makes it better, barbeque sauce. Love that stuff. 

[Charity] Abby Tollefson the 2023 Rose Queen from the State Center Rose Festival. 

[Text on screen] State Center Rose Festival Rose Royalty

[Charity] The rose festival going on since 1957. 

[Bill] Wow. State Center is known as the rose capital of the world. 

[Charity] I can still smell the smoke from the Iowa Honey Producers. 


[Charity] Alright. Now, we’ve got some korn patch clowns.  

[Text on the screen] Korn Patch Klowns

[Charity] Korn Patch Klowns is a group of people who enjoy clowning in central Iowa. 

[Bill] Did you know there is a world clown association? 

[Charity] I didn’t know, but. . .

[Bill] You can imagine, the mission is all about. . .

[Charity] Clowning?

[BIll] You got it.

[Charity] Fascinating. Very surprising. I think they are apply named. 

[Bill]. Yes. Just clowning around.


[Charity] They tell you what they are about.

[Bill] Our friends from Bankers Trust went by. Bankers Trust Junior Savers Club. Jeep Outdoor Club of Central Iowa. Another nonprofit. Gives Jeep enthusiasts an opportunity to participate in numerous outdoor activities including camping, off-road runs and Jeep jamborees. 

[Charity] And we are going to see a lot of Jeeps here. A lot, A lot, A lot of Jeeps.

[Bill] They get together and they talk about upgrades. 

[Charity] Yeah. Have you eavesdropped or are you just guessing?

[Bill] I had a Jeep for a while.

[Text on the screen] Jeep Outdoor Club of Central Iowa

[Bill] The upgrades are expensive, but they are fun. You can’t beat the jeeps. 

[Charity] When you are out at the fair, please make sure to stop by the Iowa PBS booth in the Varied Industries building which is, of course, air conditioned. So definitely stop in the Varied Industries building.

[Text on the Screen] Visit Iowa PBS at the Fair Varied Industries Building

[Charity] You can walk through our exhibit space to view historical items. Showcasing our new documentary, Our Great State Fair. It is a 2 hour documentary that celebrates the Iowa State Fair, and it is so good. 

[Bill] It’s not to be missed. It’s just a magical, magical piece of history.

[Charity] At the booth you can also check out display items from FIND Iowa our education initiative that encourages Iowans to get out and explore our great state. While you are there, be sure to pick up an Iowa PBS fan to stay cool at the fair while showing off your love for Iowa PBS. We would love to see you at the booth. 

[Bill] You know, Charity, you were talking about the documentary. It explores the history of Iowa’s biggest celebration. I thought I knew a lot about the state fair, but this is just magical. You have got to watch it. 

[Charity] I thought, “Is there anything left to learn about the state fair?” Yes. Yes there is.

[Bill] In 1896, they staged a collision of 2 steam-powered locomotives in front of the Grandstand. 

[Charity] So crazy. So crazy. 

[Text on the screen] Our Great State Fair. Iowa PBS.org and PBS APP

[Bill] Grandstand races included. . .Now,  listen to this one. Between a car and an airplane, starring Eddie Rickenbacker, the famous World War I pilot. 

[Charity] And there’s footage of that in the documentary, right?

[Bill] Yes.

[Charity] I mean,  it’s one thing to hear it. It’s another thing to see it. It will blow your mind.

[Bill] Our dear friend, Theresa Knight, put that thing together; and she is just a magnificent job. 

[Charity] Honestly, I did think Bill I know a lot about the state fair. Am I going to learn anything new? And I learned so many new things. There’s a mural that was painted by the Works Progress Administration. One of the most bizarre stories in the documentary.

[Bill] Truely.

[Charity] You have got to watch it 

[Bill] Truely. And it upset some. . . 

[Charity] Learning the story upsets me now. I’ll tell you that much. That was incredible artwork.

[Bill] It was removed. It was destroyed. It was magnificent. 

[Charity] It was. It was a really, really beautiful mural. And so many of those incredible murals painted by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s still do grace Iowa buildings. My favorites are in the library of Iowa State University. The Parks Library of Iowa State University. But, it was 180 feet long, this incredible mural. It turned out to not be popular with the State Fair Board, and the dismantled it and used the lumber to fix things up around the fairgrounds. 

[Bill] To patch some roofs. 

[Charity] Right. To make some benches just a little bit stronger. Put some things together.

[Bill] The documentary also touches on the history of state fairs and exhibitions in general. 

[Charity] It’s really fascinating. Really, really well done. Hey, let’s do another state fair flashback. This time, let’s go back in time to 1982.

[Start of Flashback Sequence]

(Fair royalty in a white dress with a purple sash.

Alburnett High School Marching Band.

A man in a pink tuxedo and a big, blue cowboy hat riding a tall unicycle above all the other spectators.

Children square dancing on a float.

Bechmann Marching Band in yellow, black and white uniforms.

Man in a black suit riding a tall bicycle.

A marching band wearing dark blue and white uniforms.

The Iowa Capitol building.)

[Bill] Again, that skyline. It looks a little different.

[Charity] It does. All those marching bands. Yes. We need more marching bands in the parade.

[Text on screen] The Salvation Army

[Charity] Salvation Army coming through. The Salvation Army is active in over 133 countries. 

[Bill] Reports to have a worldwide membership of over 1.7 million people. 

[Charity] And of course, we’ve got some Shiners there. Because, what is a parade without some Shriners? 

[Bill] Without the Shriners.

[Text on screen] ZA-GA-ZIG Shrine, Altoona

[Charity] You know, the Shriners go back to 1872. 

[Bill] Yes.

[Charity] That’s incredible.

[Bill] Today, the Shriner Fraternity has nearly 200 temples in several countries. Thousands of clubs. Hundreds of Thousands of members around the world. 

[Charity] They have a giant Fez on their float. It took me a moment to figure out what it was. Now, I think it’s very clever.

[Bill] It’s a giant fuss?

[Charity] Fez. The hat.

[Bill] Fez. Thank you.


[Bill] Thanks for helping me with that.

[Charity] I’m always here to help, Bill.

[Bill] You know, I need a lot of it.

[Charity] We got another clown there. They are with the Shriners.

[Charity] You know, I was talking earlier. I wonder about the hierarchy of the volunteers at the Iowa State Fair. The most coveted positions. The things that you wait years to build up to. I’ve put in my times, but now I get to do this thing. 

[Bill] Yes.

[Charity] How does it work with Shriners and driving around in the little carts? That got to be pretty competitive.

[BIll] That’s a pretty tall cot you’re walking there. I have no idea how you get there. I don’t think you and I are going to make it.

[Charity] No. Nope. It’s too late for us, BIll. It’s too late for us. 


[Charity] But, these guys. They are on it. 

(a group of men on mini, yellow, dune buggy, trikes doing circles and figure-eights on the street.) 

[Charity] Shawn and Curt. Oh, there’s Joe. Although, I was feeling a little jealous, and now I’m feeling a little car sick just watching them. So. . .


[Bill] Yeah. 

[Charity] Maybe it’s best not to aspire. 

[Bill] You were talking about the Iowa PBS booth in the Varied Industries building this year. Alongside the booth, we will also have free mini exhibits around the fairgrounds. Celebrating Our Great State Fair documentary. The specifics are in the Cultural Center atrium. The Jacobson Center lobby. Jacobson Center, equestrian building, and on the 2nd floor of the museum. At these exhibits, visitors can see artifacts from the state fair, watch clips of the documentary and pick up a historic walking tour map. If you haven’t been to the museum, You have to go.

[Charity] Oh, go to the museum. What are you waiting for? The documentary is going to be on the air again on the 13th, and it’s online. You can watch it online at Iowa PBS.org or if you have PBS Passport you can watch it. 

[Charity] Alright, we’ve got more dancers. More dancers coming our way. 

[Bill] The Elite School of Dance. 

[Charity] Charlie’s Elite School of Dance is based in Waukee. Established in 2004. Kids study Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Point, Hip-Hop, Tumbling and Poms. Oh, and who is that? That’s Iowa PBS. Oh my gosh. A double cartwheel, are you kidding me? Oh my goodness. That’s why we sit here, Bill and they are out there.

[Bill] Is that Abby. Abby Brown?

[Charity] Abby did one of the cartwheels, and I’m not sure who is next to her who did the cartwheel too. I’m just very impressed. Caryline was there doing a cartwheel.

[Bill] Showoffs. 

[Charity] Oh my gosh. I’m super impressed with both of them. And hey. Did we tell you to come visit our booth at the Varied Industries building? Because, you should. You absolutely should. 

[Bill] Iowa PBS is bringing you more ways to get involved with our Iowa State Fair coverage. LIke us on Facebook for live coverage of the action, and follow us on twitter for up-to-the-minute updates. 

[Text on screen] Join the Conversation, hashtag Iowa PBS Fair

[Bill] We are also on Instagram and Snapchat. Giving you a behind the scenes look at some extra fair fun. Join the conversation with hashtag Iowa PBS fair.

[Charity] Feels like a caucus year. Fair is going to have politicians crawling all over it this year, as usual. 

[Bill] It seems to never stop. 


[Charity] But it’s particularly intense in a caucus year. You have got to admit that. And, that’s one of my favorite parts of the documentary. Some amazing political moments at the Iowa State Fair over the years. You can catch those in the Our Great State Fair documentary, as well. 

[Bill] So being the food diva that you are. Have you seen the new pork producers booth out at the fair?

[Charity] I have not. I’ll have to go check it out.

[BIll] It’s amazing.

[Charity] Really. Tell me more.

[Bill] It’s a brand new facility. The amount of pork chops. It’s thousands a day, easily.

[Charity] Enough for all of the politicians who are going to be there?


[Charity] We had the Change Dance Studio located in Urbandale went past us. 

[Text on the screen] National American Miss Iowa Queens

[Charity] We have some National American Miss Iowa queens. Young ladies who won their state title in June. They will be heading to Florida in November to represent Iowa at the National American Miss National Competition and Pageant. 

[Bill] There they are. So pretty. Taylor Strong. 

[Charity] Impressive. Their tiaras are even more pronounced. So, maybe there are styles. Maybe there are trends. You just haven’t been paying close enough attention, Bill.

[Bill] I’m sure Amazon is where you go.

[Charity] After seeing all these tiaras, I’m thinking about opening up a store myself actually. Because clearly the demand is high.

[Bill] Yes. 

[Charity] Modern Custom Dreamz, a Des Moines car club coming our way. 

[Text on Screen] Modern Custom Dreamz

[Charity] Boy, some pretty slick work done there.

[Bill] Look at the paint job on that.

[Charity] We know that you love watching the fair on Iowa PBS. And we know that some of you spend so much time at the fairgrounds that you actually miss our nightly coverage. You can watch all the fair fun at any time, any where. Check out Iowa PBS.org/fair. Iowa PBS’s Facebook page, and YouTube channel and the PBS App on all of your smart devices. And, of course, you can tell your out-of-state friends and family that they don’t have to miss the Iowa State Fair. 2023 Iowa State Fair, anytime, anywhere only with statewide Iowa PBS.

[Text on screen] Enjoy the Fair Anywhere. Iowa PBS.org. Facebook. YouTube. PBS App

[Charity] You know BIll, One of my favorite things at the fair is getting to meet people who are at the Iowa State Fair for the first time. Because, either they have traveled to get there or because they happen to be visiting and a family member or a friend or a loved one has said “You have to go to the Iowa State Fair.” And people are like “Oh, whatever, It’s just a fair. No. It’s not just a fair. You haven’t seen anything, yet. 

[Bill] It’s THE Fair. 

[Charity] It is. It is. THE Fair. I mean. I know some Minnesotans who might want to argue about that, but they are clearly wrong. 

[Bill] Yeah. We’ve got 400 acres. It’s basically a park. We said hello to the Blue Ribbon Foundation. They raise the funds, from a new roof on one of the big barns. They are redoing the sheep barn. The Iowa State Fair. It’s not the biggest, but it is in the top 5 of state fairs in the country.

[Charity] And it’s the best. 

[Bill] I feel that it is.

[Charity] Are you going to qualify that?

[Bill] I can, but I’ll get in trouble. I have family in Arizona; and the Arizona State Fair, let’s just say doesn’t quite compare.

[Charity] How many movies have been made about the Arizona State Fair?

[Bill] Zero.

[Charity] Zero. Exactly right. Exactly right. That’s argument enough, right there.

[Bill] That’s it. That’s all you need to know.


[Charity] I’m sure it’s fine. I think I’ve heard that nothing compares to the Iowa State Fair. 

[Bill] That’s a good tagline. I might hang on to that one. Iowa PBS will be hosting our own food competition at the Iowa State Fair again this year in support of PBS’s The Great American Recipe. This contest will take place on Sunday, August 13 at 12:30 pm in the Elwell Family Food Center. Winning recipes will be important to the contestants’ family heritage or legacy. Iowa PBS staff will be handing out mini whisks at the judging. So stop by and pick one up.

[Charity] Mini whisks. 

[Bill] You can’t get by without a mini whisk.

[Charity] No. That’s awesome. 

[Bill] Pick one up on August 13th. And so, here’s a good example. The Elwell Family Food Center is a newer addition to the state fair. It is a magnificent spot.

[Charity] It is.

[Bill] It has just cranked up the food side.

[Charity] And, Okay,. When you spend a lot of time at the fair, You have got to learn how to plan your time. And you have to learn where the air conditioned oases are.


[Text on screen] Schmitz Family IH Collection Chapter 5

‘[Bill] Good Point.

[Charity] And, the Elwell is one of those. Plus, honestly. The line for the bathroom is not particularly long there, and there is very accessible drinking fountains.

[Bill] Well, it’s going to be now that you’ve. . .


[Charity] I am willing to share my secrets, alright. 

[Bill] Now that the state of Iowa knows that.

[Charity] Here’s another. This is not a secret, though. But, I’m going to share it. I just don’t think enough people go upstairs at the Varied Industries building. 

[Bill] Great point.

[Charity] Because that’s where all of the sewing crafts are. The quilts and other sewing crafts are. The stuff up there is remarkable. 

[Bill]. It is. Just what you were touching on. It’s quiet. It’s air conditioned.

[Charity] It is.

[Bill] Peaceful. 

[Charity] If you are feeling a little over stimulated at the fair.

[Bill] That’s the place to go.

[Charity] But also, you have just got to go see the handy work. It is just incredible. There are the people who dominate every competition at the fair, and I always love to kind of keep my eye on it, Even if it’s not somebody I know, but you see those names. They pop-up over and over. And you are like “Oh, my gosh. What must that person be like?”. Their skill in unparallel. Pretty incredible. 

[Bill] The quilts are magnificent. 

[Charity] The quilts are amazing. I love to spend time at the cultural building, too.

[Bill] Yes. The photography salon. 

[Charity] I mean, the artwork is incredible. I love the wood turners. You get to see stuff in action. The people doing ceramics.

[Text on screen] Tonya Ogden’s Dance FX

[Bill] Many times, you can meet the artist.

[Charity]. I love the Cultural Center. You have also got to stop by the sand sculpture. You have to go several times during the fair. You stop by the sand sculpture on day one.

[Bill] As isn’t that become a fixture. It’s amazing. We are enjoying Tonya Ogden’s Dance FX. Ages 3 to 18. 

[Charity] If there is any child in the Des Moines metro who is not signed up for dance, I am going to be shocked. 

[Bill] We have some opportunities for you. 

[Charity] That’s right. That’s awesome.

[Bill] And the random tiara. 


[Charity] Alright. Yes. We do have some tiaras available for you. No. We have National American Miss Iowa Queens. No. I’m behind. Agriculture. Miss Agriculture. Thank you.

[Bill]  Correct.

[Text on the screen] Miss Midwest Miss United States Agriculture. 

[Charity] Miss Midwest Miss United States Agriculture. It’s a national, nonprofit, queen, organization started in 2018. Newcomers to the scene maybe, but their tiaras are spectacular. The competition is about building confidence, promoting self-esteem, developing public speaking skills and shaping strong leaders.

[Charity] Mid-Iowa Trail Riders Association coming up. A family-friendly club that’s all about  riding and socializing with fellow dirt bike, dual sport, adventure, and ATV riders.  

[Text on the screen] Mid-Iowa Trail Riders Association

[Charity] So, I think I’ve shared all of my fair secrets, Bill. 

[Bill] Well the last one was a doozy. I think you should come up with a map for air conditioned spots. Some discrete logo for privees. 

[Charity] They have signs. Inspir-asian. Nice.

[BIll] Mid-American Energy.

[Charity] Mid-American Energy. That’s why the women are energized. I get it now. We have picked out our tried and true snacks that complete our state fair experience. But, every year we just can’t wait to try new fair foods, and this year’s list is as delicious as ever. After enjoying all of those delicious new foods, then you have to head over to the midway and try to keep them all down.

[Text on the Screen] New Fair Foods and History of the Midway Fair 2023 Monday at 9:00 pm.


[Charity] Discover how all of the fun games and rides at the fair came to be. You can tune in for those features and more on Monday night’s state fair highlight’s program. At 9:00 pm only on statewide Iowa PBS. New foods and fun on the midway.

[Bill] I was talking with some friends a couple of nights ago, and we were all commenting on how the food competition has become quite the deal leading up to the fair.

[Charity] The new fair foods. Yeah.

[Bill] And again, that’s partly due to the Elwell Family Food Center. That has become the homebase. It has fostered all of this culinary creativity. 

[Charity] I was talking with one of the vendors, Connie Bozen. She’s the founder of Applicious and the Salad Bowl. 

[Text on screen] Des Moines River Valley Antique Tractor and Engine Club

[Bill] Yes.

[Charity] She won best new food a few years ago. And so, I asked her what that is like. How do you deal with the popularity of your new food item? It was the apple egg rolls, a few years ago. She said it is wild. It is so difficult to keep up. It is a blessing and maybe a little bit of a curse. 

[Bill] I may not be 100 percent correct in this, but I have been told that if you make, say, the top ten. You have to plan on a certain number of entrees, available. And, maybe way more than you thought you needed. 

[Charity] Right.

[Bill] If you make the top three. 

[Charity] All bets are off? 

[Bill] That number is going to go way up.

[Charity] There’s always fun, new things to try.

[Text on the screen] A-NOD For Situational Awareness LLC

[Charity] And, fun old things to try. Because you have to have your favorites, too.

[Bill] You and I have talked about this through the years, Charity. We are both just amazed at the people who line up for the hard boiled eggs.   


[Bill] It is such a beautiful thing. 

[Charity] It is a free nutritious treat at the fair.

[Bill] I mean they just line up for blocks.

[Charity] You get your egg. You look at the butter cow. 

[Bill] That’s right. Go see the honey producers.

[Charity] The butter sculptures this year are pretty fun. 

[Bill] Yes.

[Text on the screen] Cancer Warrior Truck

[Charity] We’ve got some incredible athletes through Iowa history, including Jack Trice. Iowa State University is celebrating the Centennial of Jack Trice’s time at Iowa State this year. Unfortunately also marking the Centennial of his death. Caitlin Clark.

[Bill] Caitlin Clark, yes.

[Charity] One of the sculptures. 

[Bill] You know. All of the accolades that young lady has received, I’m not sure she fully understands what it means 

[Charity] The power of butter?

[Bill] Yes.

[Charity] She knows. 

[Bill] You make it in butter. You have arrived.

[Charity] Right. Your dad was sculpted in butter. Have you ever been sculpted in butter?

[Bill] I haven’t paid my dues. 

[Charity] Oh, Bill. Does it hurt?

[Bill] It does hurt.

[Charity] I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring up such a difficult subject. 

[Bill] It is. Therapy through the years has helped immensely.

[Charity] I don’t think I will ever make it. I don’t. I’ve let go of that dream. I can’t imagine what I could possibly do that would help me reach that level. 

[Bill] My sister-in-law, Karen Riley. When dad was in butter. From that moment forward, he was Butter Bill. 


[Bill] Wasn’t grandpa. Was Butter Bill.

[Charity] Nice. It’s an honor that just kept on giving.

[Bill] That’s right. 

[Charity] Right. He never quite got over it. 

[Bill] Exactly.

[Charity] That’s fantastic. Do you remember the year that they did Governor Terry Branstad in cheese?  

[Bill] I don’t remember that.

[Charity] It’s an interesting one. I think butter is better for sculpting a person’s likeness. What is a parade without a few dogs representing? That’s nice. 

[Bill] Love the Dawgies. 

[Charity] I don’t think any of my dogs could be in a parade, Bill. So. I admire the patience and fortitude of the few canines that I’ve seen in this parade. Well done to them. Let’s take another look back.

[Bill] Yeah. This is 1991. This is kind of our era, now. 

[Start of Flashback Sequence]

(A fair queen wearing a white dress with a purple sash lying diagonally across her chest.

A marching band in white polo shirts and black shorts as the march down Grand Avenue. 

A Grandview College float with students dressed up like vikings.

1990 era John Deer tractors rolling in formation down Grand Avenue.

A marching band in a white, yellow and black uniform.

A young child in a woman’s arms pointing.

A young child holding his hands over his ears.

A marching band in a red, white and black uniform wearing cowboy hats.

Two clowns with red noses and red hair wearing top hats waving from a vehicle.

A marching band wearing a uniform of dark red shirts with white accents and black pants.

Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty waving to the crowd from atop a float.

A 1990s style pickup truck leading the parade with the fair color guard riding horses behind the truck while people in white cowboy hats and red shirts walk along the sidelines.)

[End flashback sequence]

[Bill] That was your high school band.

[Charity] Yeah. That was my high school band. The Cedar Falls High School Marching Band. CF Tigers. 

[Bill] Wow.

[Charity] I played the flute poorly. We word are plastic cowboy hats proudly. 


[Charity] And our polyester marching suits.

[Bill] Yep. Oh. That sounds hot.

[Charity] It was hot. 

[Bill] Plastic and polyester. 

[Charity] It was a long ride too. You know, from Cedar Falls. That’s a couple of hours on the school bus. Then you put on your very hot uniform. You march in the parade. And then you ride back.

[Bill] And no air conditioning.

[Charity] Of course, no air conditioning on school buses. Silly.

[BIll] Of course not. 


[Charity] That’s ridiculous. It was fun. It was fun to march in the parade. It does feel like maybe we could have spent the night, and gone on to the fair, too.

[Bill] I recall one year I was in the parade with Iowa PBS.

[Charity] Did you do a cartwheel?

[Bill] I did not. I was getting close, but what really happened is I was right in front of Clifford the Big Red dog. 

[Charity] Yeah.

[Bill] And I’ve never recovered. Because it was like I was invisible.


[Charity] No one could see you. No one could see you with Clifford there.

[Bill] No, I was waving at people and they were like looking over my head and. . .

[Charity] Has Clifford been carved in butter? Probably.

[Bill] I don’t know. He’s pretty famous.

[Charity] He is. He is. 

[Bill] He could be too famous to make it into butter.

[Charity] You think that’s the case? Too much of a luminary. It’s enough that every child out at the fair wants to have their photo taken with him.

[Bill] Okay. Keep going.

[Charity] Is there some Clifford jealousy that you really want to work through, here?

[Bill] My pride was crushed. 


[Charity] I’m sure a lot of people want to have their picture taken with you, too Bill.

[Bill] If somebody asked me to step on to a scale at the state fair so they could announce my weight over the loudspeaker. I’d probably head the other direction. But, big animals at the fair. They are proud to take home their awards for being heavy. 

[Text on Screen] Big Animals and Little Hands on the Farm Fair 2023 Tuesday at 9:00 pm

[Bill] After hanging around with those giants, we are headed to spend some time with thinner friends. We’ll take a tour of Little Hands on the Farm, where kids can get hands-on experience of what it’s like to be on the farm. We’ll showcase these features and so much more during Tuesday’s state fair highlight program. Tune in at 9:00 pm on Iowa PBS.

[Charity] So much to see.

[Bill] It kicks off tomorrow. Again, the official start to the Iowa State Fair.

[Charity] Do you spend much time on the rides at the fair? You’ve been so busy. Now that you’re retired from the talent show, you can go to the midway right?

[Bill] Well yes, but truth be known, I am a massive chicken. 

[Charity] Are you?

[Bill] I can barely do a ferris wheel. I heard you did one of the. . .

[Charity] I did. I did. Was it Thrillsville? They are all called thrill. Oh. Thrillzone. That’s the one. There are lots of thrill opportunities.

[Bill] Was this one of those rubber-band things?

[Charity] No, it wasn’t the rubberband. It was the giant. . . I can’t even think what it was called. But, you go about 30 feet in the air, and then you kind of drop straight down. It was more fun then I thought it was going to be, but I did a lot of screaming. I think I destroyed a microphone with my screaming. I think I broke the lens of the GoPro camera.  It was something. ]A memory that I’ll always cherish. 

[Bill] Would you do it again?

[Charity] Would I do it again? 

[Bill] I’m going to take that as a no.

[Charity] I’m going to plead the 5th. 


[Charity] I’m trying to think of circumstances that would lead me to do it again. But, you know when you are sitting up that high. Oh my gosh. The view is incredible. It’s so peaceful there for a moment before you plunge to your death. 


[Bill] I’ll just go up to Pioneer Hall. Up on that hill.

[Charity] Yes. That’s a nice view.

[Bill] That’s high enough for me. I’ll just hang out up there. 

[Charity] Absolutely.

[Bill] Look for you on the screamin’ ride. 


[Charity] Ah, not this year. I’m taking a year off of screaming rides this year. You know what though. I covered all of the different thrillvile, thrill zone, thrill town, areas for Iowa PBS that year and that big ride. The biggest thrill did not make me the sickest. I was making my way through a lot of rides, and all of a sudden I said “And we’re done”. We are done with rides. This is the end of that. I’m going to sit on this bench for quite awhile, and then we will do some more work. 

[Bill] We’ll let my brain stop spinning.

[Charity] That’s right. My inner ear is going to calibrate, and we’ll see. We have Loco Dreamers Car Club. Custom cars. Lowriders.

[Text on the screen] LoCo Dreamerz C.C.

[Charity] Some cars dancing their way down the parade route. Car Clubs like these are popping up all over central Iowa. A lot of creativity. A lot of pride. Oh my goodness. You know. You think about the more bells and whistles the car has. The more things that can go wrong. And then, you look at the bells and whistles on those vehicles.

[Bill] And then when you reflect back to the Model T’s that went by, and how simple those were. And, where we are at now. 

[Charity] Fascinating.

[Bill] Modern cars have so many computers on them. Mechanics have to have a computer to talk to the car. 


[Charity] That’s true.

[Bill] The computers will start chit-chatting. 

[Charity] The Central Iowa Fencing Company just went by, and I expected that to be fencing as in the sport. But no. It is a fence building company. Fencing.


[Bill] There they are. That’s because you have so much culture. 

[Charity] Is that it? 

[Bill] Yes. You were expecting a proper duel. 

[Charity] And yet, I have a fence. That’s where my brain should have gone first. Yeah. You couldn’t fence with that stuff they’ve got on their flatbed. 

[Bill] Coming up on Wednesday state fair highlights show. The butter cow sculpture is just about on everybody’s must see list. Charity and I were just talking about that. Check out 16 hundred pounds of buttery goodness, then head over to the Cultural Center to experience one of the largest photo exhibits in Iowa, the photography salon. My favorite place in the fair.

[Text on Screen] Butter Cow & Photo Salon Wednesday August 16 at 9:00 pm

[Charity] The photography salon is so good. 

[Bill] Again, peaceful. Air conditioned. It is just a wonderful place to just unwind a little bit, if you’ve had just a little too much go, go, go at the fair. That is the spot to be. These fair favorites and more are coming up Wednesday, August 16 at 9:00 pm on Iowa PBS. We are so excited to bring the highlight program to you. Coming up here 6 nights of in depth coverage only on Iowa PBS. 

[Bill] I talk to people all year long, and they value that program so much because even if you are at the state fair every day.

[Charity] Oh, you can’t see it all.

[Bill] When you can’t see it all, and we find the little nooks and crannies, and the personal interest stories. It’s a beautiful program. Make sure you tune in Wednesday night’s going to be a good one. 600 pounds of butter. 

[Charity] And recycled butter, no less. That butter sticks around a long, long time. 

[Bill] I’ll leave my toaster and my English muffins at home.

[Charity] I would. I would. Going back to the documentary, Our Great State Fair. And thinking about that Photography Salon. There is a segment about the Artists Salon. The competition. The art competitions that Grant Wood dominated for years. That hardly seems fair.

[Bill] Back in the day, yes.

[Charity] But, I just love the fact there is this high culture aspect of the fair, and then we also wanted to see locomotives crash against each other. 

 [Bill] And Eddie Rickenbacker flying an airplane around the race track. 

[Charity] Those disaster attractions are crazy, crazy stories. But, I love that there is room for all of it at the Iowa State Fair.  

[Bill] For some reason, I don’t think we will be able to get that cleared. The locomotive crash thing. 


[Charity] No, I don’t think we are going back. Although, the Demolition Derby went on a really, really long time.

[Bill] I love demo derbies. They still do that at the county fair level.  

[Charity] Nice. Have you ever competed in one?

[Bill] No, again, that’s in the same file as the ferris wheel.

[Charity] Really. Okay. 

[Bill] I’m kind of a big chicken.

[Charity] It’s like bumper cars, but with consequences.

[Bill] I’ll do bumper cars.  


[Charity] One of the things that fascinated me in the Our Great State Fair documentary was Teen Town. Did you experience Teen Town? Tell it what it was.

[Bill] Thanks to my late brother Ed. He was in what they called combos back then, the garage bands now. We just saw the Iowa School of Rock go by earlier. This was an area of the state fair where the antique tractors are parked now, and it was for teenagers. It was designed .

[Charity] You had to be 13 to 18.

[Text on the screen] Sober Soldierz 

[Bill] No adults allowed.

[Charity] No adults. No 12 year olds. 

[Bill] It was a wonderful place. During the fair, I remember there were little vestibules where colleges would be set up.There were educational pieces available. But, it was also the home of the battle of the bands.This was off season. This was not during the fair. These local bands from all over the state would come in, and they would perform. They were judged. Then they would move on. I think, some of them moved on to dad’s television show.   

[Charity] Oh, wow.

[Bill] It was a magical time. 

[Charity] I can just imagine. What a really special opportunity. 

[Bill] First time I heard a Hammond B3 Organ. The Late George Clinton. The Band was Captain Beefheart and the Shipwrecks. They rolled into Stormy Monday, and I lost my mind. 

[Charity] You were never the same.

[Bill] I was never the same. It was 6th grade. Teen Town, it was fabulous memories.  

[Charity] Very cool. Very cool. It would be nice if it were still around, but I guess things change.

[Bill] Well actually, The Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Music Association up in the lakes areas, Spencer. Urma, as we call it. They have some youngsters coming to the fair.  They are going to be performing at the Knapp stage. I don’t know the exact date. Check your program.  I think they start at 9:00 am in the morning. You will see some fantastic young musicians. It is that program, Battle of the Bands, is based off of what I enjoyed when I was a youngster at Teen Town.

[Charity] And, don’t you always want to rock out at 9:00 am?

[Bill] True. People told me to turn it down when I was in 6th grade. They are still telling me to turn it down.


 [Charity] But, you are never going to listen.

[Bill] And I’m darn proud of it.


[Bill] I’ve got more stereos then. . . Ah. We won’t go there.


[Charity] I feel like there is some interesting variety in the fair this year. Some groups I haven’t seen before. Sober Soldierz is going by, and they have just a huge presence.

[Bill] One of the nice things, for me personally; but in general, for the highlight program is we are going to introduce you to the new Iowa State Fair Queen. She will be crowned on the first Saturday. I believe it starts at 7:00 pm. Check your schedule, if you can make it to the state fair. After she is crowned, they have to go home and pack up and then they return to the fair the next day. As soon as she has her schedule cleared up a little bit, I am going to be able to interview the Iowa State Fair Queen. It is such an honor. It is amazing. 

[Charity] Let’s hear from last year’s state fair queen.

[Bill] Yes.

[Start Interview with last year’s state fair queen]

[Paul Yeager, Iowa PBS Fair host] Joining us now is 2022 Iowa State Fair Queen, Mary Ann Fox from Mitchell county. Wrapped up your first year of college at Iowa State. As you reflect and you get ready for the state fair of ‘23 to begin, What do you want to do this last couple of days before your reign is over? 

[Mary Ann Fox, Iowa State Fair Queen for 2022] Have fun. Honestly, have as much fun as I possibly can. It’s been such a great year.

[Text on screen] Mary Ann Fox 2022 Iowa State Fair Queen

[Mary Ann] Why not, not have fun these last few days, and really cherish these moments as being the state fair queen.   

[Paul] What was the moment last year that it hit you that you really were the fair queen. Was it an event or was it that night when they put the crown on your head?

[Mary Ann] I don’t think it has hit me. I really don’t think it has hit me. I know, last year going to all the events at the state fair and they would introduce me as the state fair queen, I. . .

(Mary Ann turns her head to look behind her.)

[Mary Ann] “Oh, is she behind me?” I didn’t think it was me. It’s starting to settle in now. Especially at my county fair which was just last week. That I was the Iowa State Fair Queen.  

[Paul] The other gals who are going to try to take your position. What advice do you have for them for these few hours before that ceremony on Saturday night? 

[Mary Ann]   Well at that point a few hours before the ceremony, everything is already done and finalized; but to still have fun. Smile and soak in all the moments. Because even if you don’t end up being the state fair queen or getting one of the prizes, Is that the whole week you just spent here in Des Moines is truly unforgettable. You meet so many friends and it’s an experience of a light time that only 100 girls a year get to have. 

[Paul] Mary Ann, thank you so much.

[Mary Ann] Yes. Thank you.See you at the fair.


[End Interview with last year’s state fair queen]

[Charity] Thank you to Paul Yeager for that great interview. 

[Bill] Oh, she’s wonderful.

[Charity] Absolutely.

[Bill] She is wonderful.

[Text on the screen] Ramsey Mazda of Urbandale

[Charity] Ramsey Mazda of Urbandale. Lots of cars. Lots of cars.

[Bill] Hey. That looks like my wife’s car.

[Charity] Of course, we’ve been talking about who becomes the next state fair queen, but who will bring home the coveted golden toilet seat?  That is another important question. You can find out during this year's outhouse races. Then expert woodturners demonstrate the process of finely crafting wooden objects right at the Iowa State Fair. 

[Text on the screen] Outhouse Races & Wood Turning Thursday, August 17 at 9:00 pm

[Charity] You can catch these fair features and more on Thursday, August 17 at 9:00 pm right here on statewide Iowa PBS. Have you ever competed in the outhouse races, Bill?

[Bill] Again, I am so fortunate.

[Charity] I am putting together a bucket list here for you. 

[Bill] I can default every time to say “I’m doing the talent show. I was too busy”.


[Bill]  I would do that though. It would be fun.

[Charity] You know the outhouse races look like a whole lot of fun for sure.

[Bill] I believe it was started by my dear friend and past Director of Special Events,Darlene Kretchmeyer years ago. One of my good friends, who is now retired from Iowa PBS Ricky Fuller, said when we were shooting highlights one time. He just came up with this tagline. He said, “Those folks aren’t running to the bathroom, they are running with the bathroom.”


[Bill] It is great fun. Again, the highlights. Just wonderful. We are going to start rolling them out. The amount of people that are on the fairgrounds, our production people. The videographers, the directors, the personalities. Charity, you do a fabulous job. 

[Charity] Thank you, Bill. You do too.

[Bill]  The nooks and crannies, again.   

[Charity] I feel so privileged to have gotten to be a part of coverage, I think 10. . .11. . .12 years now. You just get to learn about the fair in a completely different way.  I will admit that I prefer to work at the fair rather than just visiting it. Because that gives me license to be nosy. I get to ask any question I want to ask. It is pretty crazy.

[Bill] Never thought about it that way. But, it is well said.

[Charity] One year, I covered the grilling competition. So, I had to be there at 7:30 in the morning. Now, I’m going to say this wrong and somebody is going to get upset. This is to the best of my recollection. There was a rule that you could not arrive before 1:00 am to start grilling. But, everybody got there at 1:00 am to start grilling. A lot of people had smokers and they would make everything just perfect.

[Bill[ At 1:00 am?

[Charity] Well, You have to get started early. The early bird catches the. . .

[Bill] Catches the brisket.

[Charity] Right. Catches the brisket. Exactly right. We are going to get to know the new CEO of the Iowa State Fair, next.

[Start Interview with the new CEO of the Iowa State Fair]

[Paul] Jeremy Pearsons is the new CEO of the Iowa State Fair. So does this mean, once the fair kicks off,  It is official. You are really the guy now?

[Jeremy Parsons, CEO of the Iowa State Fair] I guess so. I guess all of that planning in advance really has been for nothing. But no, We are excited to get the fair started. What a beautiful night to kick it off for sure.

[Paul] You have Iowa roots from Lyon. You have been in northwest Iowa. What does it mean for you when that call came to say you were going to be the CEO?

[Jeremy] Definitely the honor of a lifetime. The Iowa State Fair is so important to Iowans, and so to be entrusted with this institution is really special. A place that I have attended since I was a little boy with my parents and grandparents. And now to raise my boys there as well, is really just the opportunity of a lifetime.

[Paul] Now, as the boss you have things that you have to do. You can’t show favoritism or anything, however, what are a couple things that you are looking forward to most in the next 10 days? 

[Jeremy] I guess it is pretty cliche, but just seeing Iowans enjoy themselves at the Iowa State Fair. Everything about Iowa is at the Iowa State Fair. Going to enjoy a stroll through the ag building. Looking at the butter cow. Eating an egg on a stick, of course. And just all of the other traditions of the fair. But, I look forward to enjoying those as much as I can.  Hopefully, not too many fires to put out.    

[Paul] How many times will you go down the slide?


[Jeremy] That’s a good question. Probably as many times as my boys will want to. Is probably what is going to happen. Got to do the slide, the skyglider, the old mill are favorites as well.   

[Paul] Very good. Enjoy.

[Jeremy] Thank you   

[End Interview with the new CEO of the Iowa State Fair]

[Bill] Jeremy Parsons was an intern when I started doing the talent search with dad. He and Tonya Cook. Tonya is Director of Special Events, now. Those two were interns when dad was doing the talent show. This would have been ‘95, ‘96 ish.        

[Charity] I talked to him recently. He has been dreaming of having this job since he was 10 years old. He started asking a lot of questions, got a lot of access at the Iowa State Fair.  And then, he managed the Clay County Fair for a long time.   

[Bill] Not only managed it, but took it to new levels. I’ll just say it. The Iowa State Fair is in really good hands. 

[Charity] It is exciting to see what the years will bring.

[Bill] New energy. 

[Charity] You know, it is moving season in Iowa’s college towns. I’m surprised they even had any Uhauls left for the parade. 

[Bill] Some of my worst memories of moving Abigail in and out of Iowa City. 


[Bill] Friday night, coming up on the highlight reel program. Many of you may have submitted an entry to the food contest. You probably don’t know what goes on in putting on a food competition at the Elwood Food Center. Go behind the scenes as preparations are made. And, while the Elwood Center has some crisp and cool air conditioning. It’s hot at the fair. 

[Text on screen] Food Contests & Beard Growing Contest Friday, August 18 at 9:00 pm

[Bill] And then, one of my favorites. The men and the beard growing contest. Would never dream of shaving it off. Join us here on Iowa PBS. Find the fair’s best beards. These fair features and so much more coming up Friday, August 18 at 9:00 pm.    

[Charity] What is your favorite contest to go to in Pioneer Hall?

[Bill] I have become a massive Bluegrass music fan. Fiddling, Mandolin. That picking up there is just. . .

[Charity] There’s just extraordinary musicianship. 

[Bill] It is steller.         

[Charity] I was talking earlier about the high culture at the not as high culture at the Iowa State Fair.  You have it all in the contests up there at Pioneer Hall, too. Because you have extraordinary musicians competing against other extraordinary musicians and then you have people just dropping in and entering the husband calling contest.  

[Bill] Correct. And our parade marshal, Regina Pirtle.

[Charity] She makes all of that happen.   


[Bill] She makes it all happen by magic.

[Charity] And hard work.

[Bill] You go up to Pioneer Hall, you are going to meet Regina Pirtle, our state fair manager. 

[Charity] And, we are going to meet her right now with Paul Yeager.

[Start Interview with the state fair manager Regina Pirtle]

[Paul] Regina Pirtle is this year’s parade marshall. Regina, when you got the call that said you were the parade marshall what went through your head?

[Regina Pirtle, 2023 Iowa State Fair Parade Marshall] I was just very humbled. I was very surprised. I was not quite understanding why me. But, I was very, very happy.

[Paul]  You spend a lot of time in one or two areas of the fair. Had you ever even been to the parade?

[Regina]  Oh, I’d been to the parade, yes. We’d been to the parade, and we’d been in it. We enjoyed it. But now that I’m very involved on the grounds, I’m not able to attend it like I use to. But, it is a wonderful parade. 

[Paul] Now, a producer tells me he doesn’t know if there's anyone else who has handed out more fair ribbons than you over the last 33 years. You think that is true?

[Regina] Absolutely. I never thought of it, but yes. We probably have the most contests in one building, one area of anybody.   And yes. Thank you for sharing that. Yes.

[Paul] We will give that one to Cameron McCoy. He’s the one who came up with that one.  

[Regina] Yes. Absolutely. I have something to brag on now.

[Paul]  What are you looking forward to most each and every year of the fair?

[Regina] The people. The coming together. It is like a family reunion to me.  Because all of the participants and fair goers become family. Even people like you with your interviews. You see them year after year, and it is just a joy.

[Paul] It is always a joy to see you. Congratulations Regina.

[Regina] Oh, thank you so much. Thank you. And thank you to whoever voted me in.   

[End Interview with the state fair manager Regina Pirtle]

[Charity] Paul Yeager and Regina Pirtle. I spoke to Regina Pirtle recently. She had some lovely insight. You know, I was saying earlier that I actually prefer to work at the state fair even over just going to the state fair. Because it gives you that insider experience. The way to have that, if you don’t have a job that gives you an opportunity to do that, is to enter a contest or multiple contests.  

[Bill] And, I have to say, Paul Yeager is trying to butter her up. Because he does the cow chip throwing contest.  


[Bill] I’m not saying he cheats.   

[Charity] No. You are not saying that.

[Bill] He is working the angles there.

[Charity] Do enter those contests. Regina has such a fun time with it. Paul Yeager was just mentioning our producer, Cameron McCoy. He once went to the tall corn contest and found that there was only one entry in the tall corn contest. I believe they won. But, you know what, you want there to be multiple entries and usually, of course there are  dozens and dozens of entries. But, get involved. It is a really fun way to participate in the Iowa State Fair. I also, a few years ago, interviewed a father-daughter duo who always entered things into the Iowa State Fair. And, I learned that grandma in the family does too. Three generations maybe more entering items into competitions at the Iowa State Fair. There is something for absolutely every skill level. And Bill, we are at my favorite part of the parade, now. The horses are here. Beautiful, beautiful horses. I believe this is El Cartaro, celebrating Mexican culture here in Iowa. Got some  lassoing skills going on there. We can hear the horns. See the beautiful, beautiful horses coming. Some of these horses dance.  

[Bill] It is always a beautiful end to this great state fair parade.   

[Charity] A group of Iowan women who share their love of horses and promote Mexican heritage through female driven team horsemanship. Look at those customs too. It is just so stunningly beautiful. 

[Bill] Beautifully presented. 

[Charity] It just represents the diversity of our state. Our diversity makes us stronger, better. It has been such a beautiful night.

[Bill] It is. Great kick off to the Iowa State Fair 2023. Charity, it is always a thrill to be on with you. 

[Charity] It has been such a pleasure. The end of the parade is the best part. So beautiful. That’s awesome.  Thank you so much, Bill. We will see you at the fair.

[Bill] Have fun at the fair. 

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