By Christina Dittmer
The Iowa State Fair is getting ready for the 2014 celebration with new and improved buildings, experiences and attractions.
Perhaps one of the biggest attractions at the fair this year is a 25-foot-tall, 5,900 pound statue. The sculpture entitled "God Bless America" by Seward Johnson is a depiction of Grant Wood's famous "American Gothic" painting, which has special meaning to Iowans.
Not only was the home in "American Gothic" modeled after a real home in Eldon, Iowa, but Grant Wood was an Iowan himself. Born near Anamosa, the depression-era painter taught school in a one-room schoolhouse and studied art abroad before teaching painting at the University of Iowa from 1934 to 1941. Wood also contributed to Iowa State University's art on campus, with large murals in Parks Library.
Johnson's sculpture, as a part of its tour around the nation, will be housed at the entrance to Pella Plaza on Rock Island Avenue every day of the fair.
Fair introduces changes and additions in ag education experiences
The fair is also planning new displays and activities to enrich the ag education of the fair. Included in this are Farm with Us, CME Commodity Carnival, renovated Boulevard of Dairy Breeds, hydroponics display, Thank a Farmer Wall, a new Seed Survivor location and the 10th anniversary of Little Hands on the Farm.
Farm with Us is an interactive learning experience surrounding corn and soybeans. Located in the John Deere Agricultural Building, the destination will allow visitors to see growth stages of the plants and experience what a bushel of corn and soybeans looks and feels like. Visitors will also be able to see how the products help produce another Iowa commodity: swine. The display also holds the opportunity of taking home a complimentary photo of the Farm with Us experience.
Located in the 4-H Exhibits Building, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group is hosting the first annual Commodity Carnival to teach 3rd through 8th graders what it take to raise beef and the profits and losses that accompany. This activity will run August 8-16 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Questions about the Carnival can be directed towards Mike Anderson, State 4-H Animal Science Program Specialist and CME Commodity Carnival Coordinator at [email protected] or 515-294-8617, or Paige Halsted, CME Commodity Carnival Assistant Coordinator at [email protected]. More about the carnival can be found online.
Hands-on activities and displays
The Boulevard of Dairy Breeds will have undergone a renovation by the 2014 Iowa State Fair, as well. The Boulevard is located in the north annex of the Cattle Barn, and will focus on the six dairy breeds in Iowa, and will house hands-on activities.
As a part of the aquaculture (fish farming) display in the Animal Learning Center, there will be a hydroponics display. Hydroponics is a way of using mineral nutrient water in place of soil to grow plants in a soil-less environment.
Also in the Animal Learning Center, there will be a way to leave your own personalized message of thanks to the hardworking farmers that help make the state run. With the Thank a Farmer Wall, visitors can thank those who make Iowa the leading state in corn, soybeans, pork and eggs.
Seed Survivor is a free, interactive activity where kids can learn about seeds and the environment. In the activity, kids can plant their own sunflower seed and take it home with them. This activity will be moved to Kid's Zone for the 2014 fair.
Old favorites and new renovations
This year marks the 10th year of Little Hands on the Farm helping children ages 2 to 10 learn the importance of agriculture and how it affects them in their daily lives. The fun and interactive activity is stationed just north of the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center.
The Patty and Jim Cownie Cultural Center has also recently been fully renovated to include air conditioning and a new exhibit space on the third floor. This year also marks the 75th year of the fair's Photography Salon. To celebrate this, the Cultural Center will display hundreds of black and white photography entries in salute to Ansel Adams. The Cultural Center will also host Bill Woolston's 1975 photo essay, Iowa's Fair as the 2014 Atrium exhibit in celebration of the 75th Photography Salon anniversary.
As always, the fair will also have a wide array of delicious food, which you can still pay with in whatever form you choose. As of the Iowa State Fair Board decision in January, no changes in how food is purchased at the fair will occur this year.
Tickets for the Iowa State Fair can be purchased ahead of time at $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 6-11. Tickets are on sale at participating Hy-Vee, Hy-Vee Drug and Fareway stores and online through www.iowastatefair.org. The State Fair ticket office opens July 7. At the gate, ticket costs will be $11 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-11. Children ages 5 and under will be admitted free every day of the fair.
More information about the Iowa State Fair can be found online.