"Our state fair is a great state fair." That's from the chorus of the musical that celebrates corn dogs, cattle barns, and grandstand shows--the Iowa State Fair--and it ranks among the best fairs in the US.
Held in Des Moines each August, the Iowa State Fair is a highpoint of the summer for over a million folks each season. It's even more of a "must do" for many of our dancers who take the stage each August at the culmination of our summer programs.
Nearly perfect weather, enthusiastic audiences, and energy to spare jumpstarted our Junior-Senior dancers this year at the Riley Stage, named for Bill Riley Sr., originator of the State Fair Talent Search.
It's always a bit nostalgic for me to be there and see photos of Bill Riley and his wife Anne on the double doors in the center. I remember watching Bill come out onto the stage for the last time the year before he passed away. I remember many years of watching him emcee his show, including the one when my sprouts won. And I especially remember the year I danced on the Riley Stage with my partner Terry. At that time Bill had a television show. We had qualified at a county fair, and then appeared on TV. Bill asked us to tour the state with him to perform while the judges tabulated their scores during qualifying contests. Good times.
This year our kids performed at a different venue: the Anderson Erickson Stage. We'd performed there many years ago and the stage has been remodeled, but it was like coming home. The AE slogan on the back wall made me smile. "Ridiculously high standards." We fit right in.
I had a front row seat for both shows, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching our kids dance. A job well done, with a boatload of help from some pretty special people. My mother and I celebrated after the second show with our traditional corn dogs and lemonade. Mmmm good!
The Iowa State Fair. It lives up to it's theme: it really is "non-stop fun!"
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