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August 12, 2012
Bernice Volkens , Reinbeck Courier

If you are craving a corn dog, a ride in a double ferris wheel and a look at some of the ugliest cakes around it's time to go to the Iowa State Fair. Also you can take in the butter cow, plenty of free attractions and the many animals that are shown and judged. This year the fair begins on August 9 through the 19 and the fact is that there is something for everyone.

The first Iowa State Fair was held in October in Fairfield and lasted 2 days. Now the fair costs millions but back in 1855 the budget was $325. The fair then became a moving fair from city to city, mostly in the south-eastern counties. As more interest in the fair increased the Iowa legislature decide the fair should have a permanent home and the city was Des Moines, the state capital. Since 1854 the Iowa's State Fair has been entertaining Iowans on a yearly basis. The exceptions have been in 1898, the fair was cancelled because the World's Fair was being held in nearby Omaha, Nebraska and also because of the prolonged Spanish American War. The fair was still held during World War I, but with World War II the fair was closed until the end of the war. The fairgrounds were used by the military as a supply depot. The fair re-opened in 1946.

The last time I was at the fair was at least 10 years ago when our farm received our Century Farm Plaque. We were a little late because this farm was established in 1895. We were told we were quite rare because we are close relatives of the first owners and that we still have the original 160 acres. By that I mean passing down from son to son and no inheritance from an uncle, or buying from a cousin, but very direct. All the owners had the name Volkens. All that was proved by farm deeds and as we found out when we were down to the fair for our presentation that is quite rare.

When we had the family at home we made the fair quite a few years. A highlight was when our daughter was in the queen pageant. That was fun but not for her 4 brothers. However, they found plenty to keep them occupied. Now we enjoy the fair by not even leaving our recliners by watching Iowa Public Television and they cover pretty much all the activities for 10 days.

One of the things I always did at the fair was buy a cookbook. About 50 years ago the winning muffin was called Hummingbird muffins, made from scratch so I was delighted when I found a quick and easy recipe for the muffins and I bet they are equal to the original.


1 (18.25-ounce) package

of yellow cake mix

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 ( 8 oz.) can crushed

pineapple, well drained,

keep the juice

3 eggs

1 teas. ground cinnamon

1 ripe banana, cut up

3/4 cup chopped walnuts,


1/2 cup chopped

maraschino cherries, well

drained and divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 18 muffin cups with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, oil, pineapple, eggs and cinnamon. Add enough water to reserved pineapple juice to make 1/2 cup; add it to the bowl than beat with a mixer until mixture is thoroughly combined. Stir in banana, 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/4 cup cherries. Mix well and then pour into prepared muffin cups (I have used muffin liners). Sprinkle with remaining nuts and cherries. BAKE 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes, then remove from muffin cups. Let cool completely.

"Iowa State Fair's theme is, 'It's Fairlicious.'"



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