Monday, August 13, 2007

Illinois State Fair Recap

First of all, welcome. Abe Lincoln welcomes you to the 2007 Illinois State Fair.

What you might not be able to tell from this picture (and the rest of the pictures here) is that it was hot. It was 99 degrees Fahrenheit, with a heat index of "OH MY GOD IT'S HOTTER THAN SATAN'S ARMPIT".

It was Sunday morning. I picked up Tim at around 9:30 am and we headed to the fairgrounds. It was too damned hot to take my family, so I just went there with Tim while my wife and my mom did some shoe shopping with the kids.

One important aspect to the Illinois State Fair is eating. Their motto should be, give us a foodstuff and we'll put a stick in it and fry it. One of the food booths actually has a name I admire, "Fried What?".

But for me, the food I have to eat every time I visit the fair is Tom Thumb donuts.

That's what I call them, at least. They haven't actually been called that in years, though. Now they have the extremely boring name, Donut Family.

Still, they taste the same as the hot, sugary donuts I fondly remember.

Tim opted for the healthy choice of the Bob Vose corndog. It was so nice, in fact, he had it twice.

Most booths at the Illinois State Fair are just brought in trailers, but Bob Vose apparently has enough clout that he has a permanent structure on the grounds where he sells his food. Note that some disturbing behind-the-scenes business has taken place. As you can see by the sign, Pepsi is no longer served by Bob Vose!

Between Tim's 1st and 2nd corn dogs, I ambled over to the Pork Patio for a pork chop sandwich.

Okay, enough eating! Let's get out of this godforsaken heat!

So, one thing I had to do was go see the butter cow. It's actually the law in Springfield that you must see the butter cow if you visit the fair.

Usually the butter cow is a life-sized cow that stands in a refrigerated glass cabinet reminiscent of a high school's trophy case. This year, they shook things up a bit. The case this year is round, and rotates. The rotation is not what I would call smooth -- it seems to catch every few inches with a minor jolt. In addition to the butter cow, there is a butter calf, a butter tree, a butter cat, a butter... well, I'll just show you:

One way of rating the butter cow sculptor's craft is how well the veins on the cow's teats are portrayed. Sadly, this year the veins are a little unrealistic:

There was actually a little controversy over the butter cow this year. In a recent column in the local paper, a food critic recommended that the butter cow tradition be discontinued, which prompted backlash from the community.

I can understand both points of view. One is sick of having a butter cow around every year, a tradition since 1922. The other wants to see a life-sized sculpture made of butter.

Could we compromise? Perhaps next year we can have a butter Henry Rollins? He's got plenty of veins that could be lovingly rendered.

Okay, we ate, we saw the butter cow. Now, I just wanted to do one more thing before the sun caused me to spontaneously combust. We had to go on the Sky Ride.

Carnival rides from the Sky Ride

Hi-Dive in front of the Exposition Building

Near the end of the Sky Ride, ridin' over the "God Mobile"

Just a couple more pictures. Have you ever watched an infomercial? If you have, chances are they are selling its product in the Exposition building. It's basically that, crappy leather belts, and evangelical Christian booths.

Here's a quiz for you!

Please be warned that if you try to answer the questions, I cannot tell you if you are right or wrong, as I didn't uncover #2 or #3.

One more pic from the Exposition building. This is the superpowered Televac handwriting analysis computer, which has been using the same blinking light technology it did back when I was a kid. I guess if it ain't broke, don't upgrade it.

And finally, a couple fun ride pics.

The Yo-Yo

The Giant Slide

Well, that's it. Of course I didn't cover everything. There's craploads of livestock, mediocre bands at the Grandstand and beer tents, etc., but I've told you what *I* was there for.

I might have one more 2007 Illinois State Fair post in me, but it won't be published here until next week. If you can stick around for that long, you might find yourself amused, shocked and frightened.

Love and Kisses From The State Capitol,



Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Man oh man, a butter Henry Rollins. That made me laugh hard.

I have fond memories of a giant slide much like that one at the fair. Thanks for taking us along.

Joe said...

I can almost smell the human sweat and deep fryer fat. Oh, the humanity. The butter sculpture makes it all worthwhile, though.

By the way, I can't remember if I told you but I did have a corndog in Springfield, at the birthplace of the corndog, and boy was it good!

jin said...



Do you know how many wedding cakes I could make/frost with 600# of butter???

*jin checks her watch...2.09am...what the hell...I'm going to figure it out...brb.*


*elapsed's now 2.15am* I could make 24-6 tier wedding cakes with that much butter. Each cake would serve 312 slices for a grand total of 7,488 servings of wedding cake from that sculpture.

OMG...tell me they utilize it and don't just throw it away! :-S

Some Guy said...

The Pork Patio sounds like a magical place where true happiness might be found.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'd pay to see a butter Henry Rollins actually.

They had deep-fried cheesecake at our Stampede this year, but I couldn't convince anyone to test drive it.

Splotchy said...

dr mvm, I didn't go on the Giant Slide this time, but the last time I was at the fair I went down it and bruised my ass when I plopped down after briefly going airborne. It was worth the pain in the butt, though.

bubs, sadly the only human sweat and deep frying fat I smelled was my own. It wasn't too crowded due to the godawful heat. Okay, maybe I smelled the *occasional* tasty fried morsel. Yeah, I remember you had a Springfield corn dog. As you already probably know, the corn dog is one of the pillars of the community (literally).

jin, that's a really good question I never really thought about. I have no idea what they do with the butter after the fair is done. Maybe they set it to sail on a burning Viking ship on Lake Springfield?

chris, not only can you find true happiness, but you can get it on a stick.

barbara, I *think* I have tried that before. One thing that sort of surprises me that I haven't yet tasted is a deep-fried Snickers bar.

kim said...

Looks almost as good as the Minnesota State Fair. In Minnesota, they carve butter sculptures of all of the princesses....Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

Jess Wundrun said...

I would like you to know that I went down the Giant Slide at the Wisconsin State Fair! Also saw the pig races which included goats and ducks this year.

Duck racing. funny.

New food on a stick this year: Deep fried s'more. 4 bucks and yeah, I bought one for my kids. I found its cloying sweetness gross gross gross, but of course the kids loved it.

Next worst food: Irish nachos - Homemade potato chips smothered in cheese whiz with bacon and red onions.

Jenny Jenny Flannery said...

3 Things God Cannot Do:

1. Lie.
2. Care less.
3. Answer the prayers of someone with such an obvious lack of fashion sense.

Splotchy said...

kim, from a little blurb I read on a blog (so's you know it has to be true), Tom Thumb donuts apparently originated at the Minnesota State Fair.

I found a Wikipedia page about the Minnesota princess butter sculptures. Very cool, except they don't seem to be full body sculptures, making it highly unlikely for me to see a veiny butterbreast.

jess, yay for the Giant Slide! I would be willing to try one of them deep-fried s'mores, but not the nachos. You have given me another wonderful colorful phrase to use -- "nastier than an Irish nacho".

flannery a, I hope you're not speaking of me in #3. I have an impeccable fashion sense. Impeccable means shitty, right?

GETkristiLOVE said...

Abe looks so young there. I think as an older man, he'd be a good replacement for the veined cow; Butter Abe.

Becca said...

Wow I haven't seen a giant slide ride at a fair or a fest since I was like 10. Ahh the memories of slide burns are coming right back to me. Do they still give you potato sacks to ride down on?

Jenny Jenny Flannery said...

BTW: Those are some great pictures.

Splotchy said...

kristi, I dunno why they don't do a Butter Abe -- seems like a good idea to me.

becca, oh my yes, they provide the potato sacks.

flannery a, thanks kindly.

lulu said...

Abe looks a little like a serial killer there.

Those little donuts look like the ones you can get at the Sandwich Antique Show. If you can't hold out for another year, you could go antiquing and get some more.

mmmmmmmmmmmm corndogs!

Splotchy said...

lulu, he's a railsplitter, not a headsplitter. My folks used to regularly go to the Sandwich show, but they never mentioned the existence of mini-donuts once to me! Oh, the hot sting of donut betrayal.

Moxie said...

I love the "Fried What?" sign.

This butter sculpture thing is rather fascinating. What about the Illinois state capitol building in butter? Or the Chicago skyline in butter? I wonder if the butter is actually food-quality. I would imagine it would become rancid after a while in the heat.

Splotchy said...

moxie, the Illinois state capitol building in butter would be wicked cool, but I don't how many butter sculptors would be able to execute that kind of intricate detail. It's hard to see from my picture, but there's a little butterfly hanging from the butter tree branch. It basically looks like a wad of gum, rather than a delicate insect.

I also doubt that you'll see the Chicago skyline in butter -- people south of Chicago have enough of a complex being called "downstate" and being dwarfed by the monolith that is Chicago. I don't think they would want to celebrate that inferiority complex in butter.

I'm not sure if the butter is rancid, but even if there wasn't a glass case separating me from the cow, I wouldn't be rubbing a piece of toast on it.