Go ‘freestyle’ to state fair

Paraphrasing the classic movie “Forrest Gump,” the Iowa State Fair is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.

There’s so much going on in one place that at every turn of the corner, there’s something new to see.

This rang true last year at the fair while covering it for the Times-Republican. I had my list of things I wanted to take pictures of and interviews I wanted to complete to run in the paper.

That was put on hold when I learned Frank Fritz from the “American Pickers” show was at the fair.

I was able to track him down and land a one-on-one interview and he was gracious with his time for a few minutes. That has to be one of the coolest parts of my job and I know some friends and family were impressed I got to do that.

Several years ago, I was wandering the fairgrounds looking for a story when one plopped down in my face.

Plopped as in 800 pounds of pumpkin. I ran right into the giant pumpkin contest and got hooked, so I’ve covered it for three years running at the state fair.

It’s the same way with politicians at the fair. Since they like to flock to gatherings of Iowans you are bound to see some well known candidates at the fair.

I remember the day before President Barack Obama came to Marshalltown a couple of years ago he was at the state fair. Can you imagine the surprise of some of those fairgoers to turn around and see Obama there chomping down on a pork chop and washing it down with a beer?

Spending a day at the fair as part of your job can be exciting. I was reminded of this fact when our newest reporter got excited to be asked to cover some things at the fair this year. She’s pumped for it and it brought a little more enthusiasm to myself this year.

So, have some fun at the fair and don’t sketch your schedule out in stone. Sometimes the best finds are the unexpected ones.

Take a nod from what Fritz and his fellow picker Mike Wolfe do on their show and go “freestyle.”

Reporter Andrew Potter is a Tuesday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or apotter@timesrepublican.com