Synopsis of a Grand Iowa Event

Thanks to so many of you, Dear Readers, it happened!

A second-to-none 1,130,260 fair-going folks promenaded before ticket takers at the acclaimed 2018 Iowa State Fair during its recent ten-day stint.

Included in that record-breaking number were multiple-day attendees, Miss NiNi and family.

As you might expect, Dear Readers, my hangout on the well-manicured, pride-of-Iowa grounds is the Elwell Family Food Building.

Double doors into this air-conditioned site open to competitive food contests, educational cooking and baking seminars, and hundreds of colorful ribbons attached to winning food entries—the number of which will make your head spin!

“Whose leadership keeps the ebb and flow within this building smoothly running,” you might ask?

A Tip of the Cap to the Volunteers

Fair superintendent, Karen McKilligan is in charge. However, Karen quite simply states that the events within this structure run so smoothly due to the seasoned volunteers whose passionate hearts and souls are interwoven into its fabric of day-to-day activities.

Linda Case, a 17-year volunteer in the food building, quickly noted that each year when volunteers gather, it is truly as though a family reunion has occurred! Great fellowship and respect for each other prevail year after year in order to proudly showcase a food story of Iowa.

Since the theme of this year’s fair was “Nothing Compares to State Fair Moments,” I inquired of Karen if she could sort out a distinctive memory.

Warm thoughts immediately were spoken of the brief attendance of well-loved, well-respected Arlette Hollister, past ISF food superintendent. After decades of growing the well-oiled machine within the food building, Arlette’s health and age deemed the necessity of tutoring a new individual to take over the reins of leadership. An official changing of the guard occurred this year as history now moves forward into the fullness of time. “Seeing the joy on Arlette’s face was her vote of approval,” glowed Karen.

The Fair When No One is There

Miss NiNi has recently pondered the question, “What happens inside this edifice when the fair is over—when the door is locked for the final time?”

Karen had the answer for me, Dear Readers.

After the final curtain lowers on the state fair, most volunteers return to their usual lifestyles.

Supplies are inventoried, boxed, and stored.

State Fair maintenance workers carefully remove all of the display cases that had previously housed award-winning entries and contest-sponsor’s exhibits. A little journey to welcome unused space underneath the grandstand is where those cases will rest until pulled out of mini retirement one week before open-class food judging begins for the 2019 state fair.

Within two to three days, it’s a clean slate for the Elwell Building’s interior in order that other events can be held within its walls during the remaining eleven months of the year.

When the Elwell Building is completely cleaned, do Karen’s responsibilities end for the year, Dear Readers?

Not at all! Mounds of paperwork will need to be completed. Subsequently, one month’s of well-earned vacation will be in order. And then, it’s back to work!

“My heart is for more people to know what goes on here and then to be involved as a worker, entrant, or sponsor,” noted Karen. “There’s something for everyone to explore.”

Iowa State Fair 2019—here we come!

Miss NiNi