I’ve attended the Iowa State Fair all but one year (2001) since moving to this fine state in December 1997.
During that tenure, I’ve spent as little as an afternoon at the fair nodding off on one of the few benches that still remain at the fairgrounds while people watching. I’ve also stayed all 11-days sleeping in a camper and showering in a concrete building that appears to not have been updated, outside of a few new toilets, since World War II.
I even spent one year (2017) working at the fair as a cashier. I was out of job and the fair was looking for workers. I met some of the nicest folks. There were a few rotten eggs (customers) in the bunch that would complain if they had a million dollars. Overall, it was a good experience. In the end, I made a lot of new friends and sold tickets to some familiar faces from the Poweshiek County area.
One of the most special years at the fair was 2003. At the last minute, I decided to do a photo story for The Montezuma Republican on Iowa State Fair Campers from the Montezuma area. Since about half the town camps at the fair, I thought it would make a unique story for the paper.
That was the year that I met Debbie, who would become my wife 13-months later. Somehow, I happened to walk by the Tindle camper at the same time that Debbie was headed down to the fairgrounds.
Few words were exchange outside of “hello,” but my heart jumped a mile. I later learned that Debbie had been following my writing in the newspaper and wanted to meet me. I believe God had something to do with arranging that chance meeting.
After meeting Debbie, I stopped to visit with Raymond and Connie Thompson to ask about the young lady in the camper down the way. “That’s Debbie,” said Connie. “She’s a nice young lady.” The Thompsons are neighbors to the Tindle family at home and at the state fair campground.
This September Debbie and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. How time flies!
We published our first book, An ABC Photo Album of the Iowa State Fair, in 2006. And this year, I’m doing a Facebook version of the ABC fair book. I’m taking new fair photos following the ABCs and plan to create a book on my Facebook page. Look for that soon.
4-H photography judging
This year the Iowa State Fair took on a new meaning for me. I’ve been judging 4-H photography on the county level since 2012. Each summer, I travel to various county fairs and spend the day helping 4-H’ers become better photographers. I’ve judged in Linn, Benton, Washington, Keokuk, Mahaska, Marion and Warren counties. I have also judged open class photography in Iowa and Poweshiek counties. I even judged creative arts at one fair.
My dream has always been to judge at the state fair. I was in Linn County in June of this year judging 4-H photography. While there, I shared with Ann Torbert, 4-H Youth Development Specialist, about my interest in judging photography at the state fair. She directed me to send an email to Mitch Hoyer, 4-H Youth Program Specialist at Iowa State University in Ames and mention her name. Mitch serves as the superintendent for the Iowa State Fair 4-H Exhibit Building and Communication Events programs.
I sent Mitch an email that week and never heard a word until a week before the fair when I received a phone call from Ames asking if I might be interested in judging at the state fair. I talked it over with Debbie and accepted the opportunity.
I was one of 12 photography judges who spent Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 6-7, judging photos and making written comments. I did a number on my pencil and about wore the eraser out.
On the county level, I get to talk to the 4-H’ers. At state, it’s just me, the photographer’s write up and photos. I tell every 4-H’er that I judge on the county level that they need to put lots of details in their write ups.
“This will make you a better judge on the county level,” one seasoned judge told me.
There’s a lot of truth in that statement. Another judge shared tips with me on how to give 4-H’ers positive reinforcement through my comments while also teaching them in the process.
In the end, the goal is helping 4-H’ers improve.
That is what life is all about – trying new adventures while learning, growing and improving.
Have a great week and take care of yourself, my friends. And always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.