At the Fair
For those of you who are not from Iowa or Texas or one of another handful of states in which the annual state fair is a huge Affair, you have to see it to believe it.
At the Iowa fair there was a half-ton pumpkin as well as a pig which was the size of a pick up truck. There was the traditional cow sculpted out of butter standing next to a bigger-than-life-sized statue of Harry Potter – also out of butter.
The Fair is also a required stopping-off-place for political candidates, if only because there are a whole bunch of Iowans in the same place.
Because of the timing of Thompson’s visit – less than a week after the GOP straw poll in Ames, Iowa and two days before yet another Democratic debate, this time in Des Moines – there was a whole passel of press.
At this point in the political season news bureaus which might have been saving their travel budgets have had to start sending print reporters, television reporters, still photographers, videographers, producers and sound people on the road to cover the campaign.
When they gather around a candidate it is called “a scrum” from rugby or Australian Rules Football or something.
Here’s an example: The candidate is barely visible in the middle.
The scrum is an interesting being because the still and video guys need to have a direct view of the candidate. The sound guys have their microphones on long booms and just need to keep it somewhere near the top of the candidate’s head. The TV reporters are always mindful of “the shot” and will try to keep themselves between their camera and the candidate. Print reporters don’t care as long as they can hear – or, at least, get their voice recorders somewhere in the vicinity of the candidate’s mouth.
At the Iowa State Fair there had to have been 60 official members of the scrum plus a few staff members a couple of hangers on and a ton of Iowans.
Fair weather is often anything but. In fact, on Thursday morning when I walked around to look at the route we would be taking on Friday, it poured and I got soaked and my shoes didn’t dry out until … Friday morning.
Last week, I was told, it was 96 degrees with full humidity which made walking around the Swine Barn (or as I mistakenly called it, the “barrow burrow”) nearly impossible.
Friday, however, was perfect. The sun was out. It was in the low 80’s and the humidity was non-existent.
I haven’t seen, of course, any of the other candidates for President – Republican or Democrat – at the Fair this cycle, so I have nothing to measure Thompson’s appearance against but locals assured me it was pretty close to the top of the list for size and excitement.
There are rides at the Fair but we didn’t get on any of them … thank God. I, who gets seasick in the rear seat of a Lincoln Town Car, want no part of a device which is specifically designed to make my middle ear have a nervous breakdown.
There are lots of food booths and, although I had promised myself a pork tenderloin sandwich (which is pork beaten to about an eighth of an inch thick, coated in some type of meal, then deep fried in more pork stuff. It is the put on a bun with lettuce, tomato, and some sort of sandwich spread, which will run down your chin while it is still in the bag, and which is among the most unhealthful foods ever invented. Except, maybe, for this:
I wonder who first had that idea?
Hey, honey, look at this. I dropped this Twinkie into this vat of boiling lard and when I pulled it out, I let it cool a little then I ate it.
Really, Dean. Why would you do that?
It tastes darn good, honey. In fact, I may make another. Say, do we have any Ho-Hos?
Most normal people don’t go to a State Fair to watch a political candidate. They go to eat stuff which is bad for you, to look at flowers you can’t grow, pies you can’t bake, and animals you can’t raise.
I’ve told this story before, and it is absolutely true: In 1999 when Mullings as a stand-alone business was brand new, I flew out to Des Moines to cover the GOP straw poll…
I just went back to the archives and see that I actually told this story in the MULLINGS from Iowa in 1999:
This is why I'm not allowed to cross the street by myself: I was at the Iowa State Fair Friday morning to do an interview on the Fox News network. I parked my rental car where I was instructed, did the interview and caught a golf-cart-shuttle back to the parking lot. On the way I realized I hadn't noted where I had left my car. "No problem," I said to myself, "it's right next to a pick-up truck." I walked up and down rows for a good 45 minutes past the other 137,542 pick-up truck in Iowa, before I finally located my car.
If you’ve never been to a BIG State Fair, you owe it to yourself and your kids to do it.