Rick Perry, lamb kebobs, dairy barn ice cream et al at the Iowa State Fair

If you want to see new presidential candidate Rick Perry up close and personal, a good opportunity awaits at the Iowa State Fair today where he will be speaking at 11:15 or so at the Des Moines Register’s “soapbox” at the Iowa State Fair. The fair was blissfully free of Republican presidential candidates last night but packed with people thanks to the recent arrival of perfect summer weather – low 80s, a light breeze, flawless blue skies. Annual fairgoers are used to much hotter muggier weather – so this nice stuff was a real treat.

I’d also recommend the lamb kebob, one of several lamb entrees offered at the Iowa Sheep Industry Association’s stand, located in a relatively out-of-the-way spot amidst the livestock barns (east of the sheep barn, across the street from the always popular Big Boar who this year was a 1,700-plus pound boar named Tiny). The pork producers outpost is much closer to the action – near the midway and along the grand concourse – and much busier than the lamb folks’ operation. But I found the pork chop rather dry and unflavorful, especially compared to the juicy well-spiced lamb. As always, a chocolate ice cream cone at the Dairy Barn was the perfect treat. And I gladly skipped the newest entry to the fried food on a stick category – fried butter on a stick.

One other tip – hitch a free ride on one of the tractor-drawn open-air shuttle wagons that winds through the fair. It’s very handy when your legs are suddenly getting worn out from so much walking and a good way to people watch as the shuttle moves slowly around the fairgrounds.

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