Our State Fair—Iowa’s Blue Ribbon Story

(Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation)
With Designer Paul Micich

our state fairThis rich history of the Iowa State Fair evolved from humble origins in Fairfield, IA, to a rollicking, rich event that draws more than a million people annually. From that first fair—intended to “develop Iowa’s wealth and increase its people in the scale of intellectual being” —to today’s extravaganza, the book traces the evolution of Iowa and Iowans in sections—A Grand Tradition; Chasing the Blue Ribbon; The Entertainment Lineup; The Ag Extravaganza and Those Super Structures.  Meet Me at the Fair, the final section serves up everything from food to campgrounds to queens, to the book-the movie-the musical.

With 500 visuals, this visual treasure becomes a family heirloom.


iowa state fair foundation    

I loved everyone I wrote about in the Our State Fair history book. But in the end, I loved LaGrande Pinckney the most. I never met him, only heard about the man after his death. By then, I was writing the manuscript. His story is plain, simple, without blemish, true.

LeGrande Pinckney of Des Moines was a mechanic, truck driver, auto racing fan and—eventually—a race car driver himself. In 1951, he won the State Fair Championship in his ’34 Ford coupe. His sons say winning that was a very big deal for him.

Eleven years later, he ended a race upside down in his car and retired. But Mr. Pinckney returned one last time.

It was that same year, after his funeral and cremation. One evening, four of his five sons were driving around trying to decide what to do with the ashes, when they came past the Fairgrounds. The turning gate just happened to be opened…

Parking the car, the men walked onto the track their father had loved for so long. And in the dusk of evening, they spread his cremains from the fourth corner past the flag stand. Beyond them, someone was grading the track, and although that person never knew it, he helped Mr. Pinckney on his final journey home.