Celebrate Iowa Ag at the State Fair

Guest blog post by Lindsey Foss, Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa Food & Family Project

Want to show your support of Iowa farmers? You can do so by having fun with a few hundred balloons.

I’m not full of hot air, either.

Visit the “Celebrate Iowa Ag” exhibit, hosted by the Iowa Food & Family Project, at the 2017 Iowa State Fair, Aug. 10-20. The booth and display will be in the southeast atrium of the Varied Industries Building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

Fairgoers will watch the exhibit take shape — literally — as balloon artists John and Johnna Perry of Kansas City’s Up, Up and Away create a farm-themed masterpiece made entirely of balloons. The work of art will take several days to complete, so be sure to check back often to see the farm-to-table connection brought to life.

Photo by Joseph L. Murphy, Iowa Food & Family Project

Photo by Joseph L. Murphy, Iowa Food & Family Project

In addition to the colorful balloon sculpture, there are a variety of family-friendly activities and giveaways to enjoy:

  • Snag an exclusive, autographed copy of the Iowa State Fare Cookbook: chock-full of fair-inspired recipes by our friend and farmer Cristen Clark.*
  • Kids and kids at heart can try their hands at the food and farming trivia wheel (every spin wins!), or enter our grand prize drawing for a shot at a $500 meat and dairy bundle, Casey’s pizza for a year or a dream garden giveaway, courtesy of Earl May Garden Center.
  • Once you’ve grabbed some free swag, toss it in the Iowa Food & Family Project tote bag — the perfect companion for a busy day at the fair or your weekly grocery run.

The booth is powered by Iowa’s soybean, pork, corn, beef, dairy, egg and turkey farmers, with support from Casey’s General Stores, Earl May Nursery & Garden Center, Hy-Vee and the United Soybean Board. Latham Hi-Tech Seeds is also a great partner of the Iowa Food & Family Project, collaborating in a common goal to connect farmers and consumers to engage in meaningful conversations about modern agriculture and today’s food system.

From tote bags to temporary tattoos, we’ll have more fun than you can shake food-on-a-stick at — all while sharing the stories of Iowa’s farm families. We hope to see you at the great Iowa State Fair!

Here’s a “taste” of the great recipes to be found in the Iowa State Fare Cookbook.*

Bacon & Sweet Corn Mac N' Cheese



  • ¼ cup onion, minced
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon of reserved bacon fat
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3½ cups half and half
  • ½ lb. block Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (2 cups), divided
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon seasoned salt (adjust to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can sweet corn, drained or 2 cups frozen sweet corn, drained
  • 1 lb. cellentani/cavatappi or other shape pasta, cooked to al dente and drained
  • 1 lb. smoked bacon, cooked, chopped, divided
  • ½ cup green onions



  1. In a large saucepan or stock pot, reheat reserved bacon fat over medium heat, add butter.
  2. Add onion and sauté for 5 – 7 minutes until translucent and tender.
  3. Add flour and stir for 1 minute to cook raw flour taste out. Whisk in half and half.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until mixture is reduced by one-fourth and has thickened.
  5. Stir or whisk in 1 and 2/3 cups of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, and Parmesan cheese until melted, creamy and thickened. Add mustard powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper, mix well.
  6. Stir in corn, cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat and gently stir in cooked and drained pasta and ¾ of chopped bacon.
  7. Pour mixture into greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Cover with remaining cheese.
  8. Bake at 350° F for 20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and slightly golden brown. Serve warm, garnish with remaining bacon and chopped green onions.

* Available select days/times at the fair.


Recipe by Cristen Clark, Food & Swine
Photo courtesy of the Iowa Food & Family Project
Servings: 6 – 8 // Prep Time: 20 min // Cook Time: 20 min