Rob Sand: I Had A Fairly Good Time At The Iowa State Fair

The Iowa State Fair Butter Cow and Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand. Photo submitted

One of the things I love about the Iowa State Fair is that you always run into someone you didn’t expect to meet. This year was no different: while refilling drinks for folks at the Iowa Pork Tent, I encountered an organ donor wearing a t-shirt promoting the importance of this selfless act.

Two people whom I care about very much have undergone organ transplants this year, so as you can imagine, I was very excited to meet someone who shared my enthusiasm for the cause! In some places, we might’ve passed each other without chatting at all—but in Iowa, we’re just neighborly like that.

As I’ve done each year since I was elected to serve Iowans, I hit up the butter cow (also: butter Caitlin Clark, butter Jack Trice, and butter Kurt Warner), spent some time on the grill at the Iowa Pork Producers’ Pork Tent, handed out eggs on a stick with the Iowa Egg Council, and stopped in for a hot beef sundae at the Iowa Cattlemen’s Quarters. You may have even noticed that our office had a booth in the Varied Industries Building.

I’d seen videos online and knew the Iowa State Fair Husband-Calling Contest was a viral event that happened every year. But being in the room and seeing record turnout for this decades-old tradition was something entirely different: the camaraderie among the contestants, the unique stories each of them shared with us, and most of all their unabashed love for Iowa.

I also judged the Best Beard Contest, Children’s Joke-Telling, and emceed the Big Wheel Races on the Grand Concourse. Each of these events add to the novelty of the fair and showcase the best of Iowa: Neighbors who come together to celebrate our shared values and community spirit.

At the Iowa State Fair, our staff and I spoke with Iowans about the work of our office, answered their questions, and provided them with the tools they need to identify and report waste, fraud, and abuse in state government. We even met one service dog who wanted to be a watchdog along the way!

What you may not know, though, is that the Auditor of State’s office has always been at the Iowa State Fair, albeit behind the scenes. Because the Iowa State Fair is a public entity, our auditors conduct oversight of fair admission ticket sales, grandstand concert ticket sales and concession receipts. This helps to ensure that public monies are being properly accounted for, safeguarding taxpayers’ stake in the 169-year tradition.

Last month, I encouraged Iowans to “be a watchdog” and join me in helping to safeguard taxpayer dollars, starting with learning more about the State Appeal Board on which I serve in my capacity as Auditor. I’ve truly enjoyed the response from Iowans—especially the increased participation in our Public Innovations and Efficiencies (PIE) program (stay tuned for an announcement on that soon)!

By the way, did you know the first state fair budget was $323, and the butter sculptures use about 14,000 pounds of (salted) butter? Everybody’s got their own Iowa State Fair fact to share. My favorite this year is that the giant pumpkin weighed in at 200 pounds heavier than the giant boar! How’s that for some perspective?

The theme of this year’s Iowa State Fair was, “Best Days Ever.” This is true—and it’s all thanks to the countless volunteers, workers, vendors, participants, and attendees who make it happen. It was excellent to run into so many of you this year. And if we missed each other—there’s always next year! 


by Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand

2 Comments on "Rob Sand: I Had A Fairly Good Time At The Iowa State Fair"

  • I used to make a point of trying to visit all the booths of state agencies and offices at the Iowa State Fair, especially in the Varied Industries Building. It was fun. Thank you, Rob Sand, for the good work you are doing against all the political odds.

    I would love to run into Rob Sand at the State Fair and thank him personally. The only political celebrity I’ve ever run into at the Fair was Steve King, who was in such a hurry that we almost literally ran into each other. Given the very large gap between Steve King’s views and my own, it was good that he kept going and obviously had no time to chat.

  • As the only Democrat to hold statewide elected office its important for Sand to appear at the state fair. He has a bright future as long as he doesn’t pander to the “woke” fringe of the party.

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