DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa State Fair offers plenty of opportunities to show off your skills and hobbies. For artisan craft vendors, the fair is a way to not only make money but to share their passion with the world.
As a woodworker, Tim McGuire of Wild Cherry Spoon Company takes fallen lumber and carves it into kitchenware items, which he then sells at the Iowa State Fair. 2023 is his first year as a vendor.
"[Fairgoers] like seeing the hands-on process," McGuire said. "It's kind of a dying trade, so they're happy to see that it's still going."
Randy Mills of Newt's Leather and Metal Smithy has a similar gig. Mills, who does leatherwork, blacksmithing and more, is selling many goods during the fair.
"This helps me stay out of my head," Mills said. "It keeps me grounded. And if I can talk somebody into coming into my shop and I can teach them my craft, and they can help carry it on, I'm in a much better place because I'm helping somebody else."
Mills primarily sells trinkets, like hair pins and key chains, but his booth has been so popular, many items are already sold out.
Both Wild Cherry Spoon Company and Newt's Leather and Metal Smithy can be located in Pioneer Hall.
Local 5 and CW Iowa 23 are bringing exciting 2023 Iowa State Fair experiences to you, from live newscasts to an interactive Local 5 Weather Lab experience. Come see us in front of the Administration Building (Grand Concourse) each day between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Woodworking and blacksmithing are unique skills, but neither are quite as eccentric as husband calling.
"Husband calling basically is you get up there and shriek at your husband as much as you can," said husband calling contestant Virginia Stone. "It's kind of based on the early farm tradition of when wives used to call their husbands for lunch or dinner... the more obnoxious you are, the better you are. I judge when I'm doing it, I see how many people are holding their ears, and then i know I'm doing a good job."
Stone has participated in the husband calling contest for several years. At this point, she's basically an Iowa celebrity: She's shared her husband calling talents on "Good Morning America", "America's Got Talent" and more.
"If I Google search myself now, I get all sorts of results from people that I don't know who have written things about me," she said. "One person said I was a comedian, one person talks about how screechy and awful it is."
Thinking about trying husband calling yourself? Stone says keep it natural, like you're a kid yelling on the playground. She also says two-syllable names work best.
WATCH: Local 5's Larissa Milles tries her hand at husband calling
Iowa Corn Day
At the risk of sounding corny, corn is a big deal in Iowa. That's why the Iowa State Fair is honoring farmers with Iowa Corn Day on Day 9 of the fair.
Organizers with the Iowa Corn Growers Association want to educate fairgoers about all the ways they say corn is an important part of the state of Iowa.
Third-generation Wright County farmer and Board Director Stuart Swanson says corn is a vital resource that is used in everything from ethanol to baby diapers.
"We produce corn for fuel, for feed, for fiber," Swanson said. "It's tied into over 4,000 products... in almost everything you do, you touch corn."
Swanson says the association is proud to represent Iowa farmers and plans to continue to find sustainable ways to farm in the state.
If you're at the fair, participate in the Iowa Corn Day scavenger hunt by locating each of the seven Iowa Corn Grower Association stations and getting your card stamped. If you complete the scavenger hunt, you'll get a $5 off coupon for one of their partner food stands.
Here's how you can support Iowa farmers in your daily life, according to fair organizers:
- Buy corn-fed meat, dairy and eggs
- Use tap water
- Use Unleaded 88 gas
More from the fair
WATCH: Complete coverage of the 2023 Iowa State Fair