Farming is Iowa’s Masterpiece!

By Kelly Visser, Iowa Soybean Association consumer engagement manager

Pic 1From blue-ribbon-winning livestock to a perfectly sculpted Butter Cow to one-of-a-kind new fair foods, there’s no shortage of creativity at the Iowa State Fair! The iconic 11-day event attracts more than a million people from around the globe and is a salute to the intersection of food, farming and family in Iowa.

The 2019 Iowa Food & Family Project (Iowa FFP) display at the Iowa State Fair will showcase the artwork in agriculture and celebrate the collaboration, color and creativity of farming! More than 250,000 fairgoers are expected to visit the booth and gain perspective on modern agriculture in Iowa.

Located in the Southeast Atrium of the William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, the Iowa FFP display features an interactive paint-by-numbers mural that will be brought into full color using soy-based paint.

In addition to painting the mural (there are 23,000 paint-by-number spaces!), fairgoers of all ages will have the opportunity to put a frame around farming courtesy of a farm-and food-themed photo booth and take-home coloring sheets. Visitors can also enter to win five pieces of agriculture-inspired artwork from a local photographer and artists.

As with all Iowa FFP activities, the annual Iowa State Fair display centers around giving consumers the opportunity to engage with farmers and learn about the state’s leadership in agriculture. Each touchpoint will help grow the Iowa FFP network of fans for long-term, two-way conversations on food and farming.

“More than ever before, consumers want to know where their food comes from and we as farmers love nothing more than to share our story,” says Aimee Bissell, a Bedford soybean and corn farmer. “Opportunities like the Iowa Food & Family Project exhibit allow for mutual education and information, which is essential to our farming operation and making informed food choices.”

The display will be managed by more than 400 farmer and consumer volunteers. The enthusiastic volunteer base is a testament to the vibrant network of fans engaged with Iowa FFP activities.

Each month, Iowa FFP interacts with more than 120,000 food and health-minded through social media, Fresh Pickings eNewsletter, Fresh Pickings magazine, community events and farm tours. Each consumer connection centers around building confidence in modern agriculture in a welcoming, relevant format.

State Fair Peppermint Ice Cream Bars


  • 2 quarts vanilla ice cream
  • 1 package (1 pound) Double-Stuffed Oreos®
  • 2 jars (12 ounces each) hot fudge ice cream topping
  • ½ cup crushed peppermint candies
  • ½ teaspoon peppermint extract, optional


Recipe from Cristen Clark, Food & Swine
Prep Time: 1 hour
Servings: 9

Line an 8x8 baking pan with plastic wrap, extending the sheets of plastic over the sides. Set the ice cream out to soften.

Place the Oreos® in a large plastic zip-top bag and crush into large pieces with a rolling pin or meat mallet. Press half of the crushed cookies into the pan and freeze until firm. When the ice cream is soft, stir in the crushed candies and extract, if desired. Carefully spread softened ice cream onto the layer of crushed cookies and freeze for 30 minutes or until firm.

Warm the hot fudge topping in a microwave for 45 seconds and carefully spread over the chilled ice cream layer. Press the remaining crushed cookies gently into the fudge to secure, then freeze for 8 hours or until firm.

To serve, lift the bars out of the pan using the overhanging plastic wrap and transfer to a cutting board. Carefully peel the plastic away and cut into 9 bars. Serve immediately or wrap individual bars in plastic and freeze.

About the Iowa Food & Family Project

The Iowa Food & Family Project is powered by more than 35 partners, including Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, with a goal to help Iowans feel more confident about how and where their food is grown. For more information, visit