A Fair to Remember

I promised to post some of the cultural goodies from the Iowa State Fair, so here goes. The Cultural Building is not air-conditioned, which was fine this year because of our mild weather this week, but I am determined if I ever win the lottery, to build a big cultural building at the fair that will be climate controlled and have the space to display the quilts in full. One day…

Anyway, the artist and former museum curator in me cringes to see the lovely works of art in a humid building with the windows open, but what can you do? No lottery monies yet…

I watched this fabulous potter for a long time. She visited with folks the entire time she was throwing, often maintaining eye contact during her conversations while continuing to throw without looking at her wheel. Amazing.

And if you read Part 1 of my fair post the other day, you saw the “Butter Cow” artist at work:

Near her, on display, was the gingerbread Terrace Hill (our beautiful Governor’s Mansion). The detail and scale on this thing was surprisingly accurate and exquisite:

I wish I had gotten a better photo, but I was snapping quickly in between people passing in front of me…

The wood creations in the Fine Arts display were astounding this year. I’m glad I didn’t have to be the one to judge this!


I love the junior art exhibit, featuring all of the school aged artists, from preschool through Grade 12. There’s always some serious talent in there, and always several pieces that just make me smile. My favorite was this little guy, a ceramic gnome titled “Unperfect Murphy”:

I really wanted to take him home. After all, aren’t we all “unperfect Murphy’s”? There were a few quilts in the Fine Arts exhibit, including this one:

It is titled “In Flanders Fields”. I love poppies and I love green, so this immediately drew me in. It has beaded embellishments and is just gorgeous.

Most of the quilts are housed in the Varied Industries Building, which is air-conditioned, but not nearly large enough to display the quilts they way they should be:


Most of them are folded and hung so you can only see a 18-24″ slice of them. Taunting for a quilt lover… Here is one of the Blue Ribbon quilts, which are hung in a separate room and displayed in full. This is hand appliqued and hand quilted:


A blue ribbon table runner:

I forgot to photograph the Best In Show, but you can see it here, and buy a raffle ticket to win it. The machine quilting is by Dawn Cavanaugh and is AMAZING.

What have we here? Could it be? It is! A nearly insane quilt! With a second place ribbon on it:


It’s made of civil war reproduction fabric, not my personal taste, but a very impressive quilt! I would have loved to have seen it spread out!

This was a cool small quilt, made with batiks and very striking:

Some more beauties:

And the biggest one, I think it measured 110″ x 110″ and included old postcard photos of old Iowa train depots, with a railroad border complete with Iowa livestock along the rails. The center had train memorabilia printed on cloth such as tickets, train schedules, signs, etc. This was a tribute to the artist’s grandfather who was a railroad man. It didn’t win any ribbons, but it should have! What a labor of love:

This concludes our cultural tour of the fair…there was so much more I couldn’t include here. There is some seriously indisputable talent here in Iowa…

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