Iowa State Fair – The Inside Scoop!
As a Fairground Architect (fairground designers or master planners) we like to pay attention to what is new and interesting or what is happening around the Iowa State Fair. Ok, we admit that we do not necessarily have the full inside scoop but, we do try to keep our “ears to the ground” regarding all things concerning the Iowa State Fair.
Recently, we attended the Iowa State Fair Corndog Kickoff fundraiser, not only did we get some great “heads-up” information from fair insiders, but we also had a fun time for a great cause. According to the Blue Ribbon Foundation the event was a huge financial success raising over $350,000 for the Iowa State Fair in one night.
When we think of the Iowa State Fair we think of several things – the Food, Agriculture, Animals, Midway, Art, Contests, Butter Cow, Museum, Parade, Champion Livestock, and People Watching. From the reconnaissance we can gather it appears as though this year will be no different. So, below are a few of our thoughts/findings regarding the information we gathered poking around and asking questions as it pertains to the upcoming 2012 Iowa State Fair:
First, if you’re a fan of the Butter Cow as we are, we think the new “must-see” exhibit this year is going to be at the Elwell Family Food Center. This building will house a life-size moose (9 feet tall) made of Dutch chocolate (you read that correctly, “life size” and “chocolate”). This is a required visit for any chocolate lover – unfortunately, we have not heard anything about it being available for tasting. Get this – as cool as it sounds, it is not the first time that this has been done before (moose made from chocolate), see the video link below. Currently in Scarborough, Maine there is a and 1700 pound, 8 foot tall milk Chocolate Moose named Lenny that has been on display since July 1, 1997 (over 15 years).
If your thing is adventure then this year you better not miss out on the new Zipline attraction that will be installed west of the Jacobson Exhibition Building. This is in the same vain as the larger than life thrill rides that are typically set-up south of the Varied Industries Building (you know, the towering high speed caged ferris wheel and the human slingshot). This zipline amusement should offer some amazing views of the grounds and allow you to get from point A to point B quicker than the skyride. Basically, you leap from a 28-foot high tower and fly 130 feet over the grounds – sounds a little crazy to us! Check out the video below from the “little bit larger” zipline set-up at the California State Fair.
One thing that the Iowa State Fair does do right is its architecture. This year there were no large building projects undertaken but there were several smaller projects and as typical these are always gems for the aficionado to seek out. This year those who search will not be disappointed, if you are a follower of such architectural wonders. The latest addition to Expo Hill (right next to the large wind turbine) is a uniquely-designed covered structure which provides a new location for free entertainment. The idea is to have solar panels attached to a portion of the stretch fabric skin covering the frame. As of this writing the fabric is being installed and the solar panels may or may not make the cut. Of course, if the panels do get installed as envisioned they will provide a portion of the venue’s power needs.
The Cultural Center will receive two new elevators for this year’s fair. We guess these elevators could serve as a new ride of sorts (they might be kinda slow and stuffy – but, if you’re on a budget…). On a serious note the elevator project is the first phase of long awaited, much needed accessibility updates to the Exhibition Building, and should be well received by the public. We hope more phases are planned for the future, as this building is in need of some TLC.
Another very interesting new project has a high probability of going unnoticed by most fairgoers. It is partly because it is an addition to a lesser known building on the grounds – unless you are an avid 4-H person. We are of course talking about a small expansion to the 4-H building (located near the Horse Barn and other Livestock Barns). The project quite simply is a new entry to the west façade. Programmatically, the space is part entry, ticket booth and storage room, but it is a nice little architectural feature and has a nice spatial quality, and use of materials on its interior. Even though it is a contemporary structure it has not forgotten its roots and fits in well with the existing historic building from the exterior.
There are many amazing acts and displays of wonderful things at the Iowa State Fair. Once again, we might be biased but we think, besides your food favorites the architecture once should have no problem stealing the show!
Remember as the Fair theme goes this year:
Iowa State Fair – Nothing Compares!