Bailey Takes the Johnson County Fair
|Three young farm girls tend to their calves|
Colored lights illuminated the skyline while the smell of fried food permeated the air last night as I walked through the Johnson County Fairgrounds in Iowa. Children ran from one building to another, petting animals, getting their faces painted, and enjoying fairground treats.
Ever since I was very little I've attended county fairs. My mother would enter contests where the quality of the flowers and vegetables she grew was tested. My dad would take me around the fairgrounds and we'd build a bird house, watch the dog show, or grab a carton of cheese curds while talking to an adult dressed as McGruff the Dog.
Last night was my first time at a fair in Iowa. I, of course, have heard of the Iowa State Fair and how wonderful it is. I have attended both the Wisconsin State Fair and the Minnesota State Fair as well as other county and town fairs. I knew that to get the full experience I had to try some fried food and go on at least one ride after walking through the buildings to admire the animals.
|A youngster smiles for the camera|
My first stop at the fair was the butterfly garden. I had never seen a butterfly garden at a fair before but it soon became one of my favorite parts of the night. Outside, butterfly experts informed curious children about the different species of butterflies. Inside the structure, fair goers ambled around searching for a butterfly to snap a photo of.
|A shy butterfly hides |
under a large leaf
Butterflies work on their own schedule and don't wait for anyone. I instantly regretted not bringing a better camera while I chased butterflies with my phone just to get a nice shot to include in my blog post. Getting a nice picture was a challenge on its own but it was also enjoyable. I felt a bit more youthful, seeing as I was chasing butterflies on a cool summer night.
The garden itself did not look hastily put together. There was a fountain and a bird bath where slices of watermelon were placed to attract and feed the butterflies.
The butterfly garden had different types of flowers for the butterflies to enjoy and pollinate. Butterflies are attracted by certain species of flowers, so if you want to attract more butterflies in your garden at home, ask an employee at your local greenhouse about butterflies' favorite flowers.
The children around me really enjoyed the butterfly garden. They tried to name the species of the butterflies they saw to their parents. Others tried to catch a butterfly on their arm.
The butterfly garden was super chill, not overly busy, and relaxing. If you are in the area, stop at the Johnson County Fair and take a walk through. My trip to the butterfly garden made me enjoy the details of nature a little bit more.
After I was done stalking the butterflies, my friend Bella and I (Bella is a photo journalism camper at the ISJW '16) decided to look at the livestock. We walked through the cow barn first. I told Bella about how at the Wisconsin State Fair two years ago I saw a cow poop all over it's owner.
|A cow takes a short nap|
We watched some young farm girls tend to their baby calves. Mothers took candid photos of their kids petting cows. The soft sound of country music played in the background as Bella and I took photos of the animals.
After visiting the cows, Bella and I decided to look at the pigs. All of the pigs looked like they were going to fall asleep. The early evening was calling them to take a nap. All of the animals had not been judged yet, so no ribbons decorated the stalls as I walked past.
|A pig stays hydrated|
I decided that we didn't need to look at the chickens or ducks since I had them at home and I was on a time limit. Instead, Bella and I made a break for the food stalls.
The Johnson County Fair is relatively small in size so there were only a handful of food vendors to choose from. Bella and I wanted to binge on deep fried delicacies that fairs are known for, so we stopped at the vendor pictured below. On the menu, we read of deep fried peanut butter and jelly and home made root beer but I decided to order one of my favorite fair/festival foods: deep fried oreos.
|The food vendor I chose to buy from|
The first time I tried deep fried Oreos, I was at Oktoberfest in Appleton, Wisconsin. I had heard via the internet that milk's favorite cookie was even tastier when battered and fried. Do you know how people say not to believe everything you hear on the internet? Don't listen to that saying, the internet is right! Deep fried Oreos are twenty times better than eating Oreos from the package.
I was greeted at the window by a likeable guy who made jokes while preparing his deep fried creation. He told me that they were fresh out of Oreos and laughed when I fell for his trick: there was a container of Oreos right in front of me.
Bella ordered some funnel cake. She explained to me that every time she went to the fair that her dad would always buy funnel cake for her and her siblings. I think that every fair goer has some type of tradition. My family usually gets some cheese curds because Wisconsin fairs typically have the best cheese curds around.
|Funnel cake: a fair fan's favorite|
The vendor dusted both of our deep fried desserts with a generous quantity of powdered sugar and handed us our plates. I eagerly searched for a picnic table to sit at so I could eat my Oreos which were still hot from the fryer.
You have to eat deep fried Oreos before they cool off otherwise you will never experience the amazing combination of melty Oreo cream and crunchy chocolate encased in a slim layer of batter.
I took a bite of the funnel cake. I am not the world's biggest funnel cake fan, especially when deep fried Oreos are involved--always take the Oreos! Funnel cake is almost hollow inside which always confuses me. Aside from it being confusing to my senses, the funnel cake was made well. Each bite I ate was consistently crunchy and sweet.
The deep fried Oreos were really good when they were warm but as they cooled off, they fell apart into micro crumbs. As I was cutting my final Oreo in half with my fork, I found a hair cooked into it. I decided not to finish eating it. I was a little disappointed because I payed five dollars for four oreos and only got to eat three of them. I didn't blame the vendor though. Hairs don't fall into food on purpose.
|The hair in my Oreo|
The ride consisted of eight poles holding two person seats which looked like old bathtubs. The ride then lifted you off the ground and spun you around. You could also spin the seats around if you wanted to. The ride lasted for roughly five minutes. It was fun for about two, if you leaned back, you would sometimes feel like you were falling backwards which cued an adrenaline rush inside your body. After eating funnel cake and deep fried Oreos, going on a spinning ride was probably not the best idea. Both Bella and I felt a little sick near the end of the ride.
There were other events going on while I was at the fair. There was a BMX competition as well as a hay bale toss where people tossed hay bales seven to twelve feet in the air. While Bella and I were waiting in line at the ride, we saw some of the BMX competition. There was also a band playing as well.
|Decorated hay bale|
Overall, the Johnson County Fair was simple but still fun. I felt the small town vibe and enjoyed the decorated hay bales that were placed around the fairgrounds. If you are in Johnson County in Iowa and want some simple fun, check out the Johnson County Fair!