The State Fair: Iowa Meets France

Evie Sue Ward is a student at Iowa State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Evie Sue is currently studying abroad with ISA in Paris, France.


I remember the first time I went to a state fair. (Dream sequence music as I sigh nostalgically…) ‘Twas only a few summers ago. My family and I had just moved to Nebraska from Washington D.C. Wanting to get the real “Mid-West” experience, my parents decided that our summer vacation would be to Iowa for the state fair. Turns out, state fairs suck. It was hot and humid, which contributed to the not-so-pleasant smell of bovine fecal matter. My mom kept insisting we see some cow made of butter, I got sick after a bite of a deep-fried Twinkie, and I ran out of money before I could ride the camel.

However, after living and going to school in Iowa for a year and a half, I have grown to appreciate the beauty of the state fair. Heck, this year I even willingly attended! It’s hot and humid, but that just means you don’t have to shower before you go, and no one will notice over the smell of the cows. Butter cows are awesome,especially if they’re accompanied by Harry Potter (don’t believe me?). Deep-fried Twinkies are DELICIOUS, but you have to pace yourself, especially if you want to ride a camel at the end of the day.

Iowa culture is a bit different from France‘s, to say the least. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the universality of human nature since coming to France it’s this: Everyone loves a good fair. Even the French.

You heard right, ladies and gentlemen, there is such thing as a state fair in France! Now, it’s not actually called that, but it’s the same idea. The Salon international de l’argriculture was one of my favorite parts of France thus far! It has all the perks of a normal state fair, like petting zoos, food, and fun shops, BUT it’s inside. AND there’s free food. AND it’s really good. Like, really good. Gelato, anyone? Yeah, really good.

Katie, Jasmine and I walked around, petting animals and practicing our French. The gelato man was really nice, and asked where we from. He hadn’t heard of Iowa, but it was pretty easy to describe given our current location. Also, animals in France are HUGE. I looked like such a tourist, taking pictures of every animal I saw, but I figured that my t-shirt gave me away already.

animals collage



Also, some people on stilts tried to chase us and eat our food. I love France.

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