In the 50 years I lived in Iowa, I went to the Iowa State Fair twice. That, to many Iowans, is virtually sacrilegious. Especially since the Iowa State Fair is considered to be among the best in the country.

In the 50 years I lived in Iowa, I went to the Iowa State Fair twice. That, to many Iowans, is virtually sacrilegious. Especially since the Iowa State Fair is considered to be among the best in the country.

I mean, even a movie — State Fair — was crafted around the Hawkeye state's main August event.

As part of my job duties at several newspapers in Iowa and Nebraska, I covered county fairs, which are a microcosm of state fairs. Been there, done that. Aside from more to eat, bigger midways and more people to watch, a state fair is a big county fair, at least from my perspective.

The best of the best from county fairs are showcased in livestock shows and home economics contests at the state fair.

Nonetheless, off to the Missouri State Fair we went Sunday, the final day of the fair. It was half-price day, and many of the vendors discounted their food, drink and crafts so there was a silver lining. It was a picture-perfect day as puffy clouds moved in mid-day to shield the sun. Temperatures were in the low 80s, the fair wasn't crowded and there seemed to be a minimum of whiny, crying and screaming children.

My co-pilot for the day was a St. Louis girl, and the Miller County Fair in July was her first real exposure to the rural lifestyle. The State Fair was even more fascinating for her, and gave me a chance to show off my rural background and county fair experience.

Our first stop, by accident, was the show ring where a variety of milk cows were being exhibited. We moved on to the pig racing contest, walked through the home ec/varied industries buildings, sat in on a youth fiddling contest, listening to a few entries in the Missouri Idol competition and then settled in for a $2 taco.

The rest of the day included The Amazing (and it was) Anastasini Circus and, of course, people watching. So many people to watch, so little time.

I couldn't leave the midway without a smoked turkey leg and she a scrumptious funnel cake – the staple of all fairs.

I'd recommend a day or two at the State Fair if for nothing more than exposure to a way of life many of us as the Lake of the Ozarks take for granted. The Fair is a culmination of hard work by 4-H kids all over the state, and it's really for them to showcase their talents and hard work.

Wear comfortable shoes, don't worry about your feet getting dirty because they will; apply sun block before you go; take extra money for the dozens of food vendors; plan to have a full belly when you leave.

And enjoy the show.


On a more serious note, what's up with these ne'er-do-wells who are stealing road signs and American flags on Horseshoe Bend? I certainly don't condone stealing anything, but American flags? Is there not a shred of decency and patriotism among us that we steal American flags now?

The pox on them all.

John Jenkins, with the Horseshoe Bend Road District, raised the issue at the Village Trustees meeting last week. He made an excellent point when he said someone is going to get injured or even killed when emergency responders can't find a street because the sign has been stolen; or that there could be an accident at an intersection of a yield or stop sign is missing.

The Camden County Sheriff's Department, which patrols the Bend, is aware of the problem but can't do anything unless the culprits are caught in the act, or somebody sees it happening and calls the cops.

The consensus at the meeting that the thieves are probably "kids" who are carousing the neighborhoods at night. Whether it's souvenir hunters, vandals, drunk individuals or kids, there is no justification for that type of behavior.

Yes, we were all young once and, yes, we did stupid things. My dad would have kicked my butt across the street had I done something like that. We were taught respect for our property and that of others.

Especially symbols of patriotism.

Folks, keep an eye out for suspicious activity. If you see someone stealing flags, street signs or anything — call the authorities. I'm not a fan of vigilante justice, but the next best thing is to get involved by keeping a watchful eye.


And, finally, it's Shootout Week.

There will be thousands of visitors to our lake this week. Many are regulars, others will be first-timers.

There may be traffic slowdowns, the stores and malls might be packed, the lake will be a madhouse for sure.

As full-timers, our patience may be tested. But never forget that these people are our guests. Sometimes, guests act up. No doubt. But they still are our guests and should be treated as such.

The bulk of the events are not centered on the West Side of the lake now, and the West Side is still part of the Lake of the Ozarks.

The Community Bridge and the Expressway have brought us even closer together. We need to continue to work as a team, we need to respect and accept our visitors and support the other communities at the lake.

Most communities and counties in the lake area are struggling with lower sales tax revenues. That is our life-blood. We want our visitors to come back.