My “visit” is an extended one as I currently live in Iowa. The first time I came to Iowa was for work in the Summer of 2011. I spent about four months here and then came back in the Summer of 2012. 18 months later and I live in Des Moines, the capital.
Iowa is probably on par with Nebraska in being known for corn, though during my time here I’ve found there to be a few events and locations that are garner quite a bit of interest and are well known across the country.
1. The Iowa State Fair
This is one of the ultimate sources of “pride” for Iowans. The Iowa State Fair is held for about 10 days every August and is the largest state fair in the country.
The State Fair is probably best known for two things. First, “The Butter Cow” which is exactly what it sounds like. A mesh wire skeleton of a cow that is then smothered in butter and only butter. It’s kept in a refrigerated room so the butter will keep its consistency. People line up to get a glance at each year’s butter cow, and the popularity has caused artists to create other butter sculptures such as portraits, landscapes and even scenes from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
Second is the food. Like any fair, there is plenty to eat, most of it unusual. Iowa prides itself on everything being available, “On a stick.” Porkchops to corndogs to candy bars to even fried butter. I’ve never tried the fried butter, but if you want something on a stick, the Iowa State Fair has it.
The “Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa” or RAGBRAI, is an annual bicycle ride across the state of Iowa. It’s a non-competitive race that was started in the early 1970’s by writers for a local newspaper, “The Des Moines Register.” Over the years celebrities have joined the event with former Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong taking part in 2008. The race lasts for a week and covers 468 miles. Though there is an official, “limit” of 8,500 riders for the week, there are plenty of unofficial writers who join along the way.
3. The Iowa Caucuses
Iowa is also well known for the “First in the Nation” Caucuses. These are the caucus elections that take place every two years in January, with the most notoriety being given every four years during the Presidential race. Both Republicans and Democrats hold caucus elections in January and Iowa has gained the reputation that during the Presidential primary/caucus season, Iowa will hold their elections before any other state.
Arriving here first in 2011, I was able to cross Iowa off my list of my goal of visiting the lower 48 states before I turned 30. Being located in Iowa since Summer of 2012, also provided me a great opportunity to visit a number of other states in the midwest and mountain region.