Weekend open thread: Olympics and Iowa State Fair edition

Who else is sad that the Olympics are ending today? Although we’re not big sports fans, all screen time limits in our household go out the window during the winter or summer Olympics. We’ve been watching for hours every day, despite the poor quality of NBC’s broadcasts. I was spoiled by living in Europe during the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. State broadcast networks provided remarkably thorough coverage, not only of their own country’s athletes, with no commercial breaks. I was also able to watch some of the more obscure events, which don’t receive a lot of attention here. Viewership of the Rio Olympics on NBC was reportedly down 17 percent from the London Olympics in 2012, a “nightmare” for the network. Here’s an idea: try more live coverage of more competitors in more events, with less schlock passing for “human interest” features.

While the Olympics are arguably the greatest show on earth, the greatest show in Iowa is certainly the state fair, which also wraps up today. A summer cold kept my family away from the fairgrounds last week, so my kids and I only visited the fair once this year. We still enjoyed the day enormously, and I have no regrets about not trying to follow Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence around. I enclose a few photos below. I didn’t attempt to take a picture of the guy on the midway wearing a “Hillary Clinton for Prison 2016” t-shirt.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome, especially any favorite moments from the Olympics or the state fair. The huge model train display near the giant slide is one of the most under-rated fair attractions in my opinion. Well worth $2 a person. Looking at a toy train set might not sound that interesting, but the scenes are elaborately constructed, and as you move along, there are lists of things to find in the model (a boy flying a kite, a beekeeper, Superman, a waterfall, etc.). It’s a fun game, and the air-conditioned building provides a nice refuge on a hot day. I recently learned that the central Iowa railroad group opens up this exhibit for free on the last Friday of every month from 7 to 9 pm.


The Iowa Democratic Party’s booth displayed only positive signs and messages about Democratic candidates for office this year.

Iowa Democratic Party state fair booth photo IDPIowaStateFair_zps2df4vvlt.jpg

The Republican Party of Iowa’s booth had life-sized displays of Donald Trump and “Crooked Hillary.” My 13-year-old noticed that some people posing for shots here were pretending to have their hands around Hillary Clinton’s neck, as if to choke her. Lovely.

"Crooked Hillary" in Iowa GOP state fair booth photo CrookedHillaryISF_zpsvsijaequ.jpg

Trump at Iowa GOP booth photo TrumpIowaStateFair_zpskkuzxpoz.jpg

This weekend I noticed this sign on display in a Windsor Heights yard. I know “yard signs don’t vote,” as campaign staffers will tell you, but this one is eye-catching.

Defeat Crooked Hillary photo defeatcrookedHillary_zpskfya0zu8.jpg

Back to the state fair. Outside the Varied Industries Building, a booth was selling this shirt in several colors and styles:

fake PETA shirt photo PETAshirtStateFair_zpsifzuo194.jpg

Although I’m not a vegetarian, nor do I find PETA’s messaging effective, I’ve never understood why some people enjoy flaunting that they eat meat. If vegetarians and vegans believe it’s ethically wrong to eat animals, I applaud them for walking their talk and living their truth.

top image: Signs on display in the Iowa Democratic Party’s booth at the Iowa State Fair.

  • Shelby Houlihan

    It would have been nice to see more coverage from the Register on Shelby Houlihan, a Sioux City native and a stand-out performer at the Drake Relays for several recent years. On the morning after the young woman had just run a 5000m in the fastest time of any previous United States woman running in an Olympic 5000m final, the Register printed not one word about it. Sunday’s paper had a small story lifted from an Arizona paper (she was the 2014 NCAA 1500m Champion at Arizona State) bemoaning that her “inexperience in the 5,000-meter showed” in her 11th place finish. Well, yes, it’s true the 23 year old has run far more 800m and 1500m races than 5000m races. Which, in a way, makes her recent accomplishments even more impressive. First, she made the Olympics team at trials earlier this summer by passing multiple women on the final lap to finish second. Then in her Olympic 5000m prelim race Tuesday morning she finished 4th by again passing several women on the final lap. In the final, yes, she was far behind the medal winners, but still passed at least one runner on the final lap, and ran ten seconds faster than in her 4th place Olympic prelim. Peak performance for women 5000m runners typically occurs at age 27. She’s 23. Still a kid, almost. She’s shorter than most of the elite runners. Her original goal had been to make the 2020 Olympics Team. She made it four years ahead of schedule. I was impressed. Plus, her name is fun to say.

    • thanks for mentioning that

      I wasn’t aware of her story at all.

      I’m surprised, because usually the Register devotes a lot of coverage to Olympics athletes with Iowa roots.

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