Nevah and I took a 3-day vacation last week to spend a day at the Iowa State Fair — the state fair to end all state fairs in our humble opinions.
We left on our 51st anniversary and spent the night with our good Missouri friends, Canby and May Bea Handy — who went with us to enjoy the fair.
For our anniversary evening meal, Canby took us to Weston, Mo., an old trading post on the Missouri River whose well-preserved business district is a collection of buildings that date back into the 1830s and 40s.
We ate at The Tin Kitchen and Nevah and I shared a full-rack of delectable BBQ pork ribs and had some as carryout.
After we ate, we craved an adult beverage, so Canby drove to O’Malley’s Bar and Original Weston Brewing Company. I highly recommend the establishment for those who like to imbibe amidst history.
First, we walked down a flight of stairs and through a probably 40-foot-long brick tunnel to reach the bar and entertainment — which consisted of a one-man band. The Irish-dressed guy played the banjo and guitar and sang raucous songs with audience participation. We enjoyed his lively, and slightly bawdy, wit, too.
I’ll mention that the bar was what I’d call a 20 x 60 self-supporting brick quonset nearly two centuries old. The bricks were laid in a perfect arch. Before we left, Canby enjoined one of the owners to escort us to an identical bar (closed for that night) that is located two flights of stairs and 40-feet directly below the upstairs bar.
It was in this lower bar where the original Weston Brewery was located and our guide told us that during Prohibition, the owners dug a tunnel a quarter-mile long that reached the banks of the Missouri River. They used the tunnel to carry contraband booze to an assortment of late-night customers.
All in all, it was a most enjoyable anniversary evening.
The next morning the four of us headed out for Iowa early and stopped for breakfast at the Toot-Toot Restaurant in Bethany, Mo. It, too, was filled with a treasure trove of antique merchandise signs, art prints, and country-music entertainer photos.
Plus, the omelet they served was huge and I ate so much that it eventually interfered with all the junk food I planned to eat at the Iowa State Fair.
We arrived at the fair around 11 a.m. on a Monday and had to park a quarter-mile from the fairgrounds. The crowds were so thick you couldn’t stir them with a stick.
Soon after arriving, the women went their way and Canby and I went our own way. Among the fair attractions he and I took in were the butter cow and Monopoly board, Agriculture Hall, Pioneer Hall, the one-cycle engine display, the overhead Sky Glide, Machinery Row, the 4-H steer, sheep and lamb shows, an immense sand sculpture portraying comic relaxing sheep, and a vast array of entertaining “slicers and dicers” hawking their wares.
One new feature at the fair is The Livestock Education Center. In that new building, sows were farrowing, ewes, nanny goats and cows were birthing and the city folks were getting a “down-on-the-farm” education.
Iowans are by nature a political breed all their own. While we were at the fair, three presidential hopefuls — Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker, and Lindsay Graham — made their political pitch to their Iowa partisans from a distinctly unglamorous tiny stage set up on the fair’s main thoroughfare. The crowds were large.
Nearby, folks could vote in the Iowa Corn Poll for their favorite Republican or Democratic candidate. Canby and I voted by dropping a single kernel of corn into the pint jar with our selection’s picture on it. I actually cheated and came back a couple of hours later and voted for a second favorite.
I won’t tell you who I voted for, but when I was there, these candidates had the most kernels of corn in their jars — Clinton, Sanders, Trump, Bush, Rubio, Cruz and Walker, with Dr. Ben Carson making a nice showing, too.
After walking probably three miles and having aching hips, the four of us had enuf of the Iowa State Fair and left before we needed assistance getting to our vehicle.
I will mention that the fair had hundreds of food booths with every kind of food you could think of — plus, some you couldn’t dream up. But, believe it or not, the only food I consumed while on the fairgrounds wuz a big bowl of free veggie salad given to me as a “come-on” by a “slicer and dicer” vendor selling cookware.
We overnighted at the home of our mutual friends Nick and Tanna deHyde south of Boone, Ia. What I missed eating at the fair, they made up for at suppertime — pork, salads, scrumptious Iowa roasting ears and sugar cookies.
The next morning it wuz raining. We left in a driving rain and drove in moisture almost all the way to Kansas City.
And, when Nevah and I arrived home, we found out we’d received a welcome 1.2-inch rain while were gone.
Gotta close for the week. For my words of wisdom this week, I’ll very appropriately quote Cesar Chavez who said, “If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him … the people who give you their food give you their heart.” Perfect! Have a good ‘un.