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Field Trip: Monona County Fair (Part 1)

July 16th, 2010 by Bryan Bedell

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FIELD NOTES’ Steve and Daniel left yesterday for Onawa, IA, home of the Monona (IA) County Fair. Here’s their first report from the road:

mononaWhen Google maps tell you that something is 8 hours away, you’re usually safe to assume that 8 actually means 10. We left Chicago at 9:30 and got in just after 8:00, with just a couple of stops in between. Along the way we saw a rainbow (obligatory rainbow video) and we stopped to take a photo of the Monona County sign along the interstate.

We checked in to the hotel right alongside Interstate 29. Onawa seems like it’s located just smackdab in the midpoint between Council Bluffs and Sioux City and is somewhat larger than you’d expect. Of course most everything closes early (we barely got in for dinner at Suds & Jugs), but even though their lights were out, the storefronts on Onawa’s main street (the widest in the country!) are almost completely full, something that seems like a rarity in the rural Midwest these days.

Before we both dined on Suds & Jugs’ exquisite chicken fingers, we stopped by the Monona County Fair to find out all the details of where we’ll be set up. We parked in the grass and wandered through the rides and the carny-staffed games of chance and into the thick of the fair, bitten by the occasional mosquito along the way. The fair is about a block and a half long. On the side opposite the rides and games, there’s a display of tractors. In between, there are permanently-installed exhibition buildings that house both 4-H projects and vendors. There was a fairly sizable crowd milling around, but most everyone was watching the Outlaw Tractor Pull behind the buildings.

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We scoped out the spot they’ve put us in and we think it’ll be perfect. We’ll be sharing a fairly large building with two other attractions: the winning vegetables in the 4-H vegetable growing contest and the Friends of the Onawa Public Library book sales table (which didn’t seem to be staffed). We’re right in between the two, and just across the main thoroughfare from where it looks like they’ll be selling hamburgers, so it’s prime real estate and you can’t miss us. We’ll be setting up early tomorrow and will be there until 10pm, so stop by and say hello.

Steve will obviously edit together a flashy video of the trip once he gets back, but here’s some rough footage if you can’t wait.