Friday Favorites at the Fair

How much do I love the Iowa State Fair? Enough to have spent six of the past 8 days on the fairgrounds, even though presidential hopefuls made it difficult to get anywhere in good time! Interested in seeing one? Follow the swarm! There’s a good chance you’ll find a celebrity or two flipping burgers for the cattlemen or grilling chops with pork producers. More than a dozen candidates were confirmed to speak at The Register’s Soap Box during the 2015 fair.

Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association

Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association

Since it’s Friday on TheFieldPosition – and the one day of the week that we faithfully share recipes – today’s blog post was inspired by many of the things I’ve seen and done in the past week. I got the idea for this post on August 14 when I read Friday Favorites by Iowa Girl Eats blogger Kristen Porter. She covered everything from her favorite fall fashion, fresh foods, Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins and DIY shelving to her favorite “woah!”  (I dare you to say this word and not smile.)

“Whoah” is probably the one word that best describes the annual state fair contests for the big boar, big bull and big ram. I’m still amazed at the enormity of these animals, although I’ve viewed them nearly every year since I was 12. Weights for these species have been recorded since 1991 and the record holders are:

  • Big Boar 1335 pounds           2012
  • Super Bull 3404 pounds      2009
  • Giant Ram 507.5 pounds     2014

Giant pumpkinThe Giant Pumpkin is another favorite stop on my annual “fair tour.” You can’t miss these beauties, which are located outside the John Deere Agricultural Building. Since I operate a little pumpkin farm in my free time, I’m more than intrigued by the amount of care that must go into growing one of these. Perhaps next year I can talk my teenagers into helping me experiment to see how big we can get one to grow. I have no desire to enter this contest, but I think a giant pumpkin would make a great photo op at Enchanted Acres.

Conveniently for me, the giant pumpkins are located outside the home of the butter cow. While the sculpted cow is the star of this show, but I always enjoy seeing the other butter sculptures that depict a special anniversary or a headline-making event like this year’s Monopoly board game.

Favorite Thing to Do
There is so much to see and do at the Iowa State Fair, but the truth is, my favorite thing is catching up with old friends and making new acquaintances. A walk through the livestock barns is sure to be a walk down memory lane! I’m likely to run into friends I made through 4-H or FFA or while attending Iowa State University. I enjoy seeing how the family tradition of showing livestock is carried on as my friends’ kids are now taking their turns in the big ring.

photo courtesy of Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association

photo courtesy of Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association

Last Saturday I really enjoyed volunteering at the Sandscapes sculpture, sponsored by the Iowa Food & Family Project, in the south atrium of the Varied Industries building. Latham Hi-Tech Seeds is a proud supporter of IFFP and its mission to help consumers make food choices based on fact, not fear. Today I spent a few hours sharing the same message for Common Ground Iowa on the Grand Concourse.

photo courtesy of Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association

photo courtesy of Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association

Favorite Ride
While it doesn’t have the thrill of the Giant Slide or the history of Ye Old Mill, I love the view from a seat on the Sky Glider. It’s fun to look down on the exhibits and search the crowd for familiar faces. Plus, it feels good to get off one’s feet for a few minutes! Side Bar: Did you know Ye Old Mill is the fair’s oldest permanent attraction? It’s more than 100 years old. This year it was recognized as being one of only three remaining mill rides in America. Dubbed “the tunnel of love,” this ride attracts about 45,000 people annually!

Favorite Food
Food on a stick” is practically synonymous with the Iowa State Fair. Fair time is also a time when food vendors test new flavors. This year 16 new foods were introduced, including the Ultimate Bacon Explosion. I honestly never tried one because I was too full from my annual favorites: Hot Beef Sundae, Pork Chop on a Stick, and the grilled turkey tenderloin.

If you’ve never before had the turkey tenderloin, you don’t know what you’re missing! That’s why today on TheFieldPosition, I’m sharing this recipe courtesy of the Iowa Turkey Federation. It’s a great summer grilling recipe plus it’s a great tailgating recipe. Go ahead and give it a try this weekend!

Iowa's Grilled Turkey Tenderloin



2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup dry sherry OR red wine

2 tablespoons instant minced onion

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 pound turkey tenderloin



1. Wash hands.

2. In a self-sealing plastic bag, plastic storage container or glass dish, combine all ingredients except the turkey.

3. If desired, slice the turkey tenderloins in half lengthwise, making two thinner fillets. To make cutting easier, place tenderloins in freezer for 20 minutes before slicing.

4. Add the turkey to the bag or container. Seal the bag or cover the container.

5. Place in refrigerator and marinate for several hours.

6. Drain off the marinade and discard.

7. Grill over direct medium heat 6 to 8 minutes per side or until meat thermometer registers 170 degrees F. and turkey is no longer pink.

8. If desired, serve on a hot dog or hoagie bun with favorite sandwich toppings.

1 serving: Calories 166, Protein 25.7 g, Fat 6.3 g (Saturated 1.2 g), Cholesterol 58.7 mg, Sodium 257.6 mg, Carbohydrate 1.1 g, Fiber .1 g

Yields 4. Serve with: Fresh Melon and Cabbage Slaw


Sold at the Turkey Grill at the Iowa State Fair, this tenderloin is sure to be a family favorite