The Iowa State Fair is considered the true kickoff of the primary season. We have had debates and are already tired of the donation requests, but the Iowa State Fair is when it gets real.
Presidential candidates are not just walking around, they have scheduled speaking slots at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox stage. It’s really unbelievable how close you are to the candidates. You see the nervous faces of their families and campaign staffers. You feel the crowd tense when a heckler approaches. You feel the comic relief when a child looks bored or begins to cheer. After seeing it on tv so many times, I can now say that I’ve experienced the excitement of a presidential hopeful trying to woo the important electorate- Iowa voters.
Of course, the people in the crowd were just as interesting as the candidates. We met farmers, seniors, students and activist. Multiple people gave us their personal phone numbers with invitations to see their political memorabilia collection or taste the organic apple cider from their farm. We were even interviewed by the New York Times. The heat and humidity was so intense that anyone waiting around was there with great effort. We listened as locals proudly shared that Iowa was the first state to pass gay marriage legislation. It’s easy to fall in love with the informed voters of Iowa. And aside from a few hecklers and self-promoters, we were taken in with the commitment to keeping signs down when politicians were speaking, all part of the endearing “Iowa-nice” values.