I just returned from Des Moines, where I spent a couple of very hot, livestock-scented afternoons at the Iowa State Fair, an event that attracts over a million visitors in a state with only three million residents. Here’s list of my highlights:

√ Life-size butter sculptures: Harry Potter, dairy cow, key characters from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (why?).
√ Impossibly huge. record-breaking animals: boar, ram, bull, rabbit.
√ Humans doing animal calls: chicken, rooster, turkey, duck, hog.
√ Foods on a stick: hard-boiled eggs, deep-fried potato, cheese (note to Iowa State Fair: The Minnesota State Fair has 59 foods on a stick. You have three. C’mon!)
√ Display cases full of cooking contest winners: pickles, pies, meat loaf, jam, cookies, salsa, decorated eggs, Jell-O. (Contest winners I missed: “Kraft Kreations with Velveeta,” “Cook it with Lard,” “My Grandparents’ Favorite Snack.”)
√ Mitt Romney, cooking pork.
√ Newt Gingrich, all sweaty.
√ Alice Cooper, all awesome.