A Fair to Remember

Covering the 2015 Iowa State Fair for Iowa Public Television made me eat my words. For the last half of my life I have been down on the fair, never understanding why so many people came to Des Moines to mill around a fried food-fueled, tractor-filled, expensive fairgrounds. Well after 10 trips to the fair this year I fully get it. There are hundreds of awesome event, contests, booths, and just general things to do at the fair.

The Iowa State Fair is a HUGE deal to Iowa Public Television. IPTV's been covering the fair for 45 years and every year the entire production staff, dedicates 11 days in August to running around the fairgrounds with cameras. Of my 10 state fair odysseys, seven were for work and 3 were personal trips with family. Every time I've gone to the fair in years past whether with friends or family, I've left underwhelmed. Before the Fair got underway this year I was worried it was going to be more of the same except worse because I would subjected to it over and over as part of my job. Well thank goodness I hit up the Fair for work a few times before any of my personal trips this year because, those work adventures quickly turned me around on the whole thing.

I personally produced four features for our nightly Fair Highlight shows: Little Hands on the Farm, Mandolin Contest, Auctioneer Contest, and Ye Old Mill. On the very first day the Fair opened its gates I road the IPTV shuttle to the fairgrounds to scope out my event locations and take a few preliminary shots. I won't run you through every moment of every day, but my first scouting trip quickly righted my emotions. Little Hands on the Farm was set to be my first feature and I had never heard of it before. Turns out its a walkthrough fun farm for kids to pretend plant seed, feed animals, drive tractors, milk cows, and sell their goods at market. As soon as I saw how much fun these kids were having my heart grew ten times its size. This was such a cool place and the amount of joy it was creating was undeniable. I immediately became super excited to cover it. And from that point forward I went into every minute of the fair with the same high level of anticipation and enthusiasm. I even went so far as to wake up at 6am on a Saturday and run in the official Fairgrounds 5k.

As I post this, the rides are being packed up, the Varied Industries building is being locked up, and the Butter Cow is being carved into pancake fuel. Today was the last day of the 2015 Iowa State Fair. You know the look in a kid's eye when you tell them its time to go, like the world was ending? That's kind of how I'm feeling. All ten of my trips to the Fair were unique and exciting, and filled with encounters of IPTV fans who wanted to shake my hand or profess their fandom for our productions. Heck, the guy who runs the Giant Slide is such a big fan he let me ride it twice, FOR FREE!

My attitude has done a complete 180. A month ago the Fair was something to get through, Today it is something to be missed. And while the 2016 Fair is something like 350 days away, I've already started a list of events I want to cover and ideas for how to produce them uniquely. I've already hit you with a lot of IPTV Fair clips, but if you're down for more I'd like to leave you with two of my favorite IPTV features from the 2015 Fair. Produced by two of my co-workers; the 2015 Iowa State Fair Mutton Busting and Speed Chess features are simply must-see-TV.

Produced by Cameron McCoy Produced by Tyler Brinegar


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