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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Summertime in Iowa brings warm temperatures and the state fair

Visitors walk around the extensive state fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. Contributed photo.

This summer brought politics, music, and lots of excitement to Iowa. As candidates converged on the Iowa State Fair, the Hinterland Festival was headlined by Hozier, Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Carlile, and Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit, and Mike Wolfe, co-star of the History Channel show “American Pickers,” participated in the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). Although many students may have been out of state for the summer and missing the fun, a few stuck around.

Sharene Gould Dulabaum ’22 was working at Green Iowa Americorps in Des Moines over the summer. She said, “The farmers’ market is incredible in downtown Des Moines. People really come out for that and it was really cool to see. It was like a miniature version of a fair – there was music and so many people.” While in Des Moines, Gould Dulabaum attended a free concert given by the Des Moines Symphony outside of the Iowa Capitol building on July 3rd, and saw an exhibit at the State Historical Museum of Iowa about RAGBRAI. She also went to the Iowa State Fair, where “Cory Booker walked past us at one point, and there was a parade of paparazzi – we didn’t know what was going on,” she said.

Tommy Hexter ’21 also stayed in Iowa over the summer at Farm House, one of several special-interest living spaces sponsored by the College. This year marked the first full summer for Farm House’s garden, where the house’s inhabitants grow produce using sustainable agricultural practices, distribute it to visitors, and use it in house meals. During the summer, Hexter tended the garden to prepare it for the arrival of the house’s other members and sold produce and flowers from the garden at the Grinnell Farmers Market. Hexter also attended the Iowa State Fair, where he saw a 750-pound pumpkin in the pumpkin contest – “I always look for the agricultural stuff at fairs,” he said – and nine Democratic candidates making speeches on the day of an unrelated Slipknot concert. “There were all these Slipknot fans walking by, and Elizabeth Warren was up on the stage – definitely some interesting sights to see,” he said.

As a proponent of sustainable agriculture, though, Hexter found the confined-livestock displays at the fair to be saddening. “It’s so clearly not the way to raise [animals],” he said. Gould-Dulabaum also mentioned the displays, specifically the purpose-labeled “meat” animals. She said, “You were looking at all these animals that were going to be slaughtered … it was bizarre.”

Both students are looking ahead to the next year as they transition out of their summer experiences. Now that she’s back on campus, Gould Dulabaum wants to keep using the knowledge and experience she gained from her summer with Green Iowa Americorps. She said, “You can’t forget everything you saw before, so I’m trying to incorporate what I’ve learned and what I’ve seen into what I do here.” Meanwhile, Hexter continues to work on making the Farm House garden an inclusive workspace that also has the potential to teach community members about sustainable growing practices.

Visitors walk around the extensive state fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. Contributed photo.
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