2016 Iowa State Fair, Day 1

There are some days fetishing at the fairs that don’t come together, and this was one of them.  My fear is that with smoking in decline, diminishing returns of quality sightings will become the new normal but I’m not blaming yesterday specifically on that.  I’ve come to expect days at the fair that produce sightings with great storylines or from girls who simply radiate IT factor, but some days you just don’t get those or else you’re late to the party and only catch the tail end of a sighting from a girl with star power.  I can’t really complain about the numerical bounty on August 13, 2016, as I scored 124 sightings during the 12 1/2 hours I was there, two more than last year’s first day at the ISF and that was an above-average haul in itself.  But there were some physical obstacles undermining especially the evening hours for me and the complete dearth of sightings of girls under 21 smoking is very troubling, making me worry that smoking among women under 30 is poised to really go off a waterfall in a few short years unless there are an unlikely number of late starters.  It all made for a day that was mostly a downer.  But there were high points worth reading so let’s get started….

I got to the shuttle bus loading zone around 10:45.  Each year there seems to be exponential growth in the crowds here.  There wasn’t a place to park within two blocks of where the buses load and the standing line for tickets went around the corner halfway down the next block, at least twice as large as the previous record-sized line I experienced last year.  Luckily, I came prepared and had purchased a bus ticket the day before, allowing me to leapfrog at least 300 people and get on the next shuttle bus, probably saving me more than an hour in line.  I got to the fairgrounds about 11:15 and morale was  high as I stepped off my bus with completely sunny skies and temps in the mid-80s.  Full sun is great for morale at the beginning of the day but it’s a different story at the end of the day when you’re a lobster radiating body heat and covered in sweat.  But it was before noon and my spirits were high as I made my first pass of the grounds for 2016.

My first sighting of the day was a fairly trashy early 30s gal at the nexus of the midway and the beer gardens, an area that’s always the source of sightings and this year would be no exception.  I saw a fair amount of smoking early on in the morning but distressingly little among young females in that first 45 minutes or so.  Sighting #2 broke the stalemate a few yards to the west of the first sighting and was a late 20s looking brunette in a black dress who was decently attractive.  The dynamic was odd as she was in the presence of a cute teenage blond and a younger boy who was hanging on to her as if she was his mother, but she definitely didn’t look old enough to be the mother of the blond girl.  I suppose it’s possible that she was. I stopped for a moment to watch her smoking before moving on.

The same area at the edge of the beer gardens and the midway produced Sighting #3 and Sighting #4 moments apart.  Sighting #3 was a mother-daughter sighting with a middle-aged mom and a brunette daughter who appeared late 20s who had a nice body draped in a T-shirt and form-fitting black leggings.  When I stood back to watch this sighting play out, I was instead distracted by Sighting #4, a cute and slender early 20s brunette with her hair propped up in a headband, wearing a bare-midriff white top revealing her well-toned belly just above a pair of skimpy jean shorts.  She wasn’t a classic beauty but she was cute…and apparently a mother and her group included two guys and a stroller with a small child.  The girl and one of the guys were smoking and I got two pics, one fairly decent of her even though she wasn’t smoking in it.  The other pic didn’t turn out.  I stepped back to admire the show and caught a little bit of her and the mother-daughter combo in tandem.  Nothing about any of the women’s smoking stood out but it was definitely nice to see two hotties smoking at once.

Sighting #6 was an odd one.  This 30ish blond in a tanktop and jean shorts was walking away from the main beer gardens with a freshly lit cigarette in hand, possessing a fair degree of IT factor even though she defiled her upper back with a tattoo that was very clear in the tanktop.  Not sure what it was about her but she intrigued me, and even more so when she started walking around with her camera phone and taking random photos, perhaps of the crowd.  It felt weirder than ever following her around and trying to take pics of her as she took pics of others.  I never really did get a great pic of her but at one point she went between the buildings and tended to her cigarette.  A decent performance but she was still only a single-base hit and not quite worthy of the early buzz.

The same area at the nexus of the beer gardens and the midway produced another sighting soon thereafter with Sighting #11, a petite blond girl with braided pigtails, nerdy glasses, and short pale blue jean shorts with lace lining who sat atop a bench smoking a cigarette with her boyfriend.  Approaching from afar, this girl’s presentation made her look about 14 but I could tell by her face she was more like early to mid 20s.  She wasn’t a classic beauty by any means but there was a cuteness about her even aside from the girly girl presentation.  I took a daring close-up photo and then hovered back to enjoy the rest of the show.   Again, no major stylistic flourishes but it was a cute dynamic with the girl seated atop this perch smoking while the boyfriend stood in front of her.  They finished their cigarettes and then got up to leave as I did soon thereafter.

The next extra-base hit was a first-time phenomenon for me in 11 years of attending the Iowa State Fair…..a repeater from last year.  Now it may well be true that I’ve come across girls who I’ve seen from previous years without realizing it, but the second I laid eyes on Sighting #13 standing behind some food stands, I knew exactly who she was.  Last year, on my second day at the Iowa State Fair, I saw a brunette in leggings with a “cute nerd” presentation in a mixed-gender group and got to watch and take a few pics of her smoking a cigarette.  This time she was in the presence of only one female friend but was once again killing it in the presentation department, wearing a white tanktop with silver sparkles and a pair of sexy hot pink shorts on her bottom.  I’d guess she’s about 23 and give the girl credit for such a consistently sexy presentation and killer body as she’s not a conventional beauty and her glasses really add to her “nerd” factor.  I got the sense right away that she was probably about to smoke and she didn’t disappoint, opening her bag and removing an all-white cigarette from a pack I didn’t see.  She lit up and began smoking, her overweight and unattractive friend not partaking in doing long-term damage to her respiratory system.  I got a handful of fairly close-up pics, including one of her in mid-drag, making her one of a very select few girls I have sets of photos from different days wearing different outfits.  She made quick work of the cigarette and it was a speedy show as she took well-timed drags with nice, steady exhales mostly from her mouth, a style exactly as I remembered it from last August.  I was close enough to see her cigarette was an all-white but unfortunately that’s the closest I’d come to a butt ID as she crushed it out on the pavement and then approached a garbage can to toss it.  I walked over to the trash can to see if I could find an all-white butt but didn’t see any as I peered in.  Last year, she smoked Camel Crushes.  It was the best show so far of the day and I felt a touch of momentum as I walked away.

The early afternoon hours rarely produce a steady litany of sightings and yesterday was no exception, with lengthy spans between some sightings.  One of the more intriguing dynamics I came across yesterday was Sighting #16, a family seated in the grass towards the center of the grounds that included a middle-aged mother and father, a daughter and presumably her boyfriend, and then a baby in the stroller.  Only mother and daughter had cigarettes in hand which was pretty hot on a day with an undeniable male smoking gap.  Unfortunately, the mid-20s brunette daughter in a bluish blouse and tan shorts was not attending to her cigarette because she had another priority, gulping water from some sort of backpack water tank I had never seen before.  I’d have preferred to see her smoking, but watching her stick that spout in her mouth and gulp away at the water as if siphoning gas was a unique sight in its own right.  I got a couple of modest pics and hovered for a couple of minutes hoping to see her smoke, but she never got around to taking a puff from the freshly lit cigarette so I finally gave up and walked away.  She definitely would have needed to relight that thing after such a lengthy pause.

I took my first pass of the day through the midway in a bit and when I came across this mid-20s hipster-esque dude complete with a handle-bar mustache holding an unlit cigarette in the presence of his hot blond girlfriend, I decided to follow.  I was especially excited when they exited the midway through a side exit and wandered to an open space behind a truck.  Sure enough, the ponytailed blond hottie in a white top with black shorts opened her purse and took out a pack of Marlboro Menthols.  I stood by and watched the two of them light up.  I took a couple of pics but nothing too upclose, and unfortunately sensed that I was noticed, forcing me to back off and watch from a more discreet location where I couldn’t see as much.  This took a fair amount away from the sighting since her back was to me.  I stuck around until she finished and then approached the cigarette to confirm it was a Marlboro Menthol.  The sighting could have been more but she was still one of the prettier faces of the early afternoon with a cigarette hanging out of it.

Back to the edge of the midway again, I sadly wouldn’t get much from Sighting #21 but in the three seconds her sighting lasted she made a helluva impression.  I had just laid eyes on this mid-20s ponytailed light brunette in sunglasses wearing a black top and pink shorts when she was taking the final drag from an all-white cigarette, then releasing a gigantic exhale before flinging the butt in front of her.  She was apparently a young mommy in the presence of her nonsmoking husband and a boy who looked about six.  She asked them to wait for her when she went to the bathroom and they did.  I daringly waited right next to them and stood there with my camera ready to get a pic of mom as she walked back, and pulled it off.  She wasn’t a classic beauty or anything but she was a sexy young smoker mom and the gal responsible for that extreme final drag was worthy of a pic.  Her discarded butt by the way was a Camel Light Menthol.

The east side beer gardens area has in recent years become very productive and so it was again this Saturday.  Standing on a grassy area near a commercial exhibits building were three guys and two girls, all in their mid-20s.  The two females appeared to be the only smokers.  Sightings #24 and #25 were both blond but one significantly outshone the other, decked out in a black tanktop and leggings with her blond hair in a bushy ponytail.  The other blond wore a light green tanktop and jean shorts.  Unfortunately, I could really only watch standing behind the more attractive blond and was not having a great deal of success visualizing the smoking.  I’d see a few drags from a side angle but nothing overly memorable.  I wish I had seen her later in the day because she was worthy of a more substantive writeup.

Moments later, I was approaching the seating area on the south side of the grounds and from behind saw a 20-something blond who I immediately sensed something special about and was eager to encircle the berm to get a frontal look at her on the off chance she was smoking….and I’ll be damned…she was.  Better yet she was in the presence of a nonsmoking boyfriend with a bushy hairdo who didn’t seem quite worthy of her.  Sighting #26 was a classic beauty, about 22 with her dark blond hair flowing onto her short summer dress and she sat Indian style with a half-smoked cork filter cigarette between her fingers.  There was an open bench across from her and I readied my camera for pics, never getting her in mid-drag but getting her as she approached the cigarette to her mouth one time.  It was just wondrous seeing such a wholesome face consuming the carcinogens from a cigarette in such close proximity to a nonsmoking boyfriend putting up with her filthy habit and stench.  This sighting had the makings of my favorite sighting of the day….until after only the third drag I was witness to she leaned down to crush out the cigarette behind the berm and she and the boyfriend got up to walk away.  Nooooo!  I would follow them a bit and snap a few pics from behind just to capture her image in her wholesome blue minidress radiating sunshine as she progressed through the fair with the fresh stench of cigarette clinging to her.  I prayed I’d see these two again before day’s end but I never did, and the show was so brief that I’m afraid she’s unlikely to make any year-end list.  She was the only girl I saw smoking yesterday who had the makings of a top-tier Hall of Famer and I was glad for even an abbreviated show, but given how mediocre things were most of the day yesterday a moment of greatness from her would have really catapulted the stock of the entire day if her sighting had been more comprehensive.

I’d “sort of” hit pay dirt for the second time a bit later with Sighting #29, this sexy mid-20s light brunette in a white tanktop and jean shorts and badass sunglasses sitting on a bench in front of the beer gardens with her boyfriend.  The second I laid eyes on her she was smoking a cigarette and taking a pretty solid drag with a heavy exhale….right before handing the cigarette to the boyfriend.  Noooo!  Seconds later, another young couple saw them and greeted them.  The boyfriend finished off the cigarette and I wouldn’t get anything more.  The girl had some serious IT factor and oozed sex appeal, but that one drag was all I would get…besides a couple of decent pics I snapped.  The boyfriend finished the cigarette and the four of them walked off.  I identified the butt as a Newport before moving on myself.  Missed opportunities were the theme of the day yesterday, with bad timing reducing would-be extra-base hits to singles and reducing homeruns to mere doubles.

My timing would be a little better on the west side of the grounds a bit later when I came across a large mixed-gender huddle and could see a few cigarettes amongst them, two of them in the hands of the early to mid 20s females who would be Sightings #32 and #33.  One of the girls got all of my attention though, a hot long-haired brunette in a black tanktop and jean shorts that were a vibrant hue of blue who cut a very sexy profile.  Unfortunately, her cigarette was already mostly just a stub so there wouldn’t be a ton of smoking to enjoy here either.  I managed three pretty good pics, one of her in mid-drag and she actually got a few more drags that I expected she would of the mostly smoked cigarette.  No bells and whistles at all to her style but what a sexy face to be a smoker, especially while immersed in conversation with two other nonsmoking girls.  She dropped the cigarette to the ground and before long the whole group of about eight walked off.  I walked up to ID her butt as a Marlboro 27.  Even if my timing wasn’t great with these sightings, I was at least taking solace that the caliber of smoker girls seemed to be improving.

The sightings were coming at a faster clip and near a bathroom on the horse building I spotted an attractive young black couple with a baby in a stroller both smoking.  The mother (Sighting #41) wore a nice tanktop and jean shorts and made for an unusual and welcome presence at the generally lily white Iowa State Fair….an attractive young black couple with a child partaking in a cigarette.  They were standing all by themselves so I was unable to linger without standing out like a sore thumb.

Far on the south end of the grounds came Sighting #43.  This family had just entered the gate and one of the two early 20s daughters already had an unlit cigarette ready to go.  She was a tad chubby but still had a decent cowgirl presentation in her black tanktop and jean shorts with cowgirl boots.  The daughter had to nudge mom for her lighter and then sparked up.  It was refreshing to see this daughter naturally and unapologetically banter with the family with cigarette in hand as they entered the Iowa State Fair.  I sure wish there were more families of this caliber.  Later in the day, I’d see this family again, and this time dad was smoking and the same daughter was smoking again.

For all of my bad timing yesterday, I caught a break as I was heading up the hill on the east side of the grounds when I spotted two young hotties in jean shorts pushing a stroller down a remote pathway, also in the presence of a young boy who looked about seven, one of the young women with cigarette in hand.  I hustled on up and caught up to them.  Only one of them was smoking and, regrettably, both had defiled themselves with tattoos on the arms and legs.  Sighting #46 even had a couple less than flattering facial piercings, managing to undermine her own impressive facial beauty and her spectacular body, but there was something about this girl that I still found sexy despite her best efforts to ruin it.  She had a pretty face with her light brown hair up in an adorable little ponytail, her body advertised perfectly with a black strap shirt and a nice-fitting pair of tight jean shorts with great legs coming out underneath.  She was a good smoker too, taking well-paced drags and exhaling some nice toxic clouds that I was able to walk through as I snapped a few modest pics.  I’m quite certain the young boy was not hers and he seemed to old to be the friend’s kid either.  Anyway, the group was heading to a commercial building on the east side of the grounds and the smoker finished her cigarette, crushing out whatever cork filter brand it was in a spot close enough to the beer gardens where there were a lot of cigarette butts, meaning I couldn’t identify which was hers.  I just might be seeing this girl again with some additional context later in the writeup.

For all of my timing issues and lack of storylines yesterday, I managed to be in the right place at the right time on a couple of occasions, including for Sighting #53, an all-female family of smokers sighting at the edge of the midway where one of the daughters was probably my youngest sighting of the day, although even she was probably 19 or 20 rather than underage.  The younger girl was also the first to light up, approaching the wall to take a smoke break ahead of the mother, the overweight and unattractive presumed sister, and what I assume was the sister’s daughter who looked about eight years old.  The younger smoker was a dark brunette showing a lot of flesh in her gray tanktop and black cutoff shorts, lighting up her cigarette which I could tell by its distinctive blond filter was a Camel Turkish Royal.  She wasn’t drop dead gorgeous but stood out as the girl-next-door-esque beauty of this group. I sat across from them in a fairly awkward location and was probably noticed and suspected as I stealthly snapped a handful of pics but there were no obvious signs I was about to be busted as I watched the girl smoke naturally and nicely with steady drags and thin exhales mostly from the mouth.  The girl was decently attractive compared to the gene pool but what I liked best of this sighting was the family dynamic, with the young child hovering closeby as three females smoked in her presence, setting the kind of example that fewer and fewer children get this day and age.  Plus the younger smoker daughter had one more great trick up her sleeve as halfway through the show she lifted her knees up and positioned her bare legs in an upside-down V position, basically allowing me a peep show of her ass dimples up her shorts.  Adorably, there was some dirt on the under side of her calves after she lifted them from the pavement.  I watched the daughter crush out the Camel Turkish Royal onto the cement, the first of the three ladies to finish her cigarette, and then I took the opportunity to get a closer look at another sighting taking place a few yards away that I had spotted.  I returned when the family got up to leave and confirmed the daughter’s discarded brand was indeed a Camel Turkish Royal.  There was enough going on in this sighting to make it my second favorite of the day, and it had a nice little addendum less than an hour later when I saw the same three ladies sitting on the curb again, my 20ish brunette taking the last drag from another Camel Turkish Royal before crushing it out.

From there it was back to the south side seating area, a place that robbed me out of greatness more than once yesterday with the tail end of would-be classic sightings.  The latest example was Sighting #57, a duo of late 20s females standing next to the water fountains.  The brunette was overweight and unattractive but the dark blond friend was a bona fide hottie, in sunglasses like so many other gals yesterday with a pale pink blouse and a pair of sexy and tight medium blue jeans.  I even have an odd celebrity comparison with this one…..”Good Morning America” co-host Amy Roebuck.  Unfortunately, I’d get there in time to snap one blurry pic and see one final drag before she crushed out the cigarette and the women moved on.  The discarded cigarette was an L & M Menthol.  Unfortunately that was the entire daily haul yesterday from the south side seating area….two hot blonds (#26 and #57) capable of greatness whose cigarettes I only caught the tail end of.

My timing was better as I headed to the east side beer gardens from there and caught my sighting of the day.  There were few memorably wholesome smoker girl faces yesterday but as I encircled the bar’s entryway I laid eyes on this early to mid 20s beaming blond  with the face of an angel wearing a baseball cap with her hair coming out the back in a ponytail, decked out below the neck in a gray top and black shorts with the shiniest, most perfect pair of long tanned legs coming out the bottom.  She was with two guys and I noticed both were smoking.  Blondie was sans a cigarette thus far but just as I was beginning my prayer that she would be a smoker too, the heavens answered as she opened a pack of Marlboro Lights and extracted one.  I frantically readied my camera phone to get a pic of the lightup and luckily she was slower to the draw than I was as I clicked my phone as the exact moment she clicked her lighter, bringing her cigarette to life and officially becoming Sighting #60.  I took a couple more pics of her dragging and got what were easily my best pics of the day before deciding to just hang back and watch the show.  On a day with so few genuine rewards, it was a tremendous pleasure to watch that cigarette inserted in her mouth followed by a nice deep drag, her eyes squinting with pleasure as she filled her insides with poisons.  Her exhales originally seemed to be more of the casual blowing variety, leading me to believe she was more than likely a social smoker, but I kept watching and it seemed the exhales were getting cloudier as she progressed.  Somewhere during this show two more guys came out and lit cigarettes, meaning she was now outnumbered four to one by males.   It was a fun show but she dropped her cigarette to the ground and crushed it out, resuming her conversation with the guys…..

I began to walk away but something compelled me to go back, believing this sighting just might not be done yet.  And sure enough, blondie had another cigarette in her hand.  But it wasn’t long enough to be a fresh cigarette so I wondered what was going on, until after two consecutive drags she handed the cigarette to one of the two guys that had joined them, having mooched some of his.  I stood there longer just in case she’d go for another drag, but when I saw the guy she mooched the drags from was crushing his out beneath his feet, I figured this time the show really was over.  But hold on….now she was extending her hand to the other male newcomer of the guy to pilfer a drag from his cigarette too!  As I watched her squintingly dragging from her third cigarette in the last couple of minutes, I was beginning to doubt my original assessment that she was a mere social smoker, as her craving for nicotine was pretty insatiable here.  She gave the cigarette back to the second guy who finished it off and the show was over as the group began to migrate back into the beer gardens.  I confirmed her discarded butt, which I had marked, was a Marlboro Light.  Because of the girl-next-door beauty caliber of the girl and the unexpected escalation towards the end, it was the only sighting of the day I would identify as an undisputed homerun.

Heading to the south side from there, I got further evidence the day was starting to come together a little during the early evening hours as I came upon Sighting #61, another ball-capped, ponytailed girl-next-door cutie with a cigarette in the presence of a smoking guy and (seemed to be a common theme yesterday) an overweight and unattractive nonsmoking female friend.  The smoker was about 22 and had auburn hair and wore a red T-shirt and a pair of utilitarian denim cutoffs showing off her nice legs, accentuated perfectly with a freshly lit cork filter between her fingers.  She didn’t have the IT factor of the prior girl but her brashness in progressing through this busy stretch of the fairgrounds while casually smoking her cigarette was sexy.  I got a couple of modest photos but was mostly content to walk behind, watching and listening.  The listening part allowed me to hear the best bit of dialogue I encountered yesterday by a country mile.  The nonsmoking female friend was saying “….everybody on the campaign smokes” to which my smoker girl responded, “Yeah….everybody here smokes”.   If only this was true!!!  I had been here for eight hours now and her statement was a gross exaggeration.  And whatever “campaign” the nonsmoker works on, I want to join it no matter what the ideology of the politician!  It was fun to follow in her smoky entrails, watching her drag from her cigarette and exhale casually into the crowd completely inconsiderate about who she hit.  Her male friend finished his cigarette first and was careful about crushing it out and tossing it into a garbage can.  I was hopeful the girl wouldn’t be as well behaved….and she wasn’t, dropping the cigarette to the curb and stepping on it before progressing northward.  Her discarded cigarette was a Camel Blue.

I kept exploring the south side when it hit me that the grandstand concert featuring modern country singer Brett Eldredge would be beginning in a half hour, and I’d be well-advised to get my butt up there to see some cowgirls getting their last hits of nicotine before going in for the long concert.  I headed that direction and quickly got my reward.  There were a number of smokers lurking outside the grandstand but the best were Sightings #67 and #68, the pair of early 20s hotties I’d been looking for all day.  On the left was a hot blond wearing sunglasses and a brown minidress.  But it was the brunette on the right who won me over even more, a total country cutiepie in an orange tanktop with pale blue cutoffs and cowgirl boots.  A sexier image you’d be hard-pressed to find.  I was a bit daring as I readied my camera phone for her first drag, and nailed the moment as her cheeks hollowed to ingest the cancerous chemicals her sexy young body demanded a steady diet of.  Much as I nailed this pic, there was a downside.  She spotted me.  Any future picture-taking was out of the question and it became challenging enough to even continue lurking there.  It got worse as two guys, presumably boyfriends, came over and fired up cigarettes of their own.  I hovered from an awkward spot to watch the show but the brunette continued to make eyes with me whenever I tried to study her technique and I could almost feel her nudging the guys that she was being watched.  Ugh….I’m not as good at this as I used to be!  Whatever the case, I still got a few good glances.  The blond, not to be outdone, was the quicker smoker of the two and got some great drags of her own in, looking wonderful holding her cigarette in a bent-elbow pose in her minidress and cowgirl boots.  She was good enough that the brunette didn’t completely steal the show but the brunette was definitely my favorite, her drags indulgent and her exhales cloudier.  The blond finished hers about a minute before the brunette.  I marked the location where both girls discarded their cigarettes before scurrying to the grandstand to get into the concert, ideally upsetting whoever sat next to them with their fresh ciggy stench.  The guys went elsewhere, apparently not attending the concert.  I approached their cigarette butts and discovered both girls had smoked Marlboro Lights, still my favorite.  If I had a better vantage point and hadn’t gotten busted so totally and immediately, I’d probably rate this one as my second favorite of the day but when you’re nervous throughout a sighting that you’re about to be confronted, it takes something away so I’ll go with this as my third favorite and likely positioning it for my top-25 this year.  There’s a brief encore ahead from this one.

I was picking off a number of sightings of girls smoking before the concert, and the next to impress was Sighting #71, an attractive mid-to-late 20s blond smoking with a (wait for it) unattractive overweight friend.  She reminded me of my friend Alissa and definitely had the look of a smoker, but did not have the presentation of a smoker, her long dark blond hair going down her back onto a conservative black top with an even more conservative long black and white skirt running inches above the pavement.  It was adorable watching her hold the skirt off the ground with one hand and drag from her cigarette with the other hand.  She was a pretty good smoker too, with nicely timed drags and cloudy exhales.  I was hovering in too wide open of a spot to continue lingering but I got to see about four drags and got a couple pics in, although one of them was blurry as it was now approaching 8:00 when the darker skies make quality photos a more and more challenging commodity.

Unfortunately, I had much bigger problems than blurry pics to contend with as the 8:00 hour arrived….my shoes.  Every year I seem to run into a buzzsaw right around fair time with my shoes as I do so much walking during the summer and it grinds away at the heels.  The pair I successfully commandeered through fair season last summer was failing me badly by late July, forcing me to take a gamble just this past week on a new pair that I was forced to break in on the days before the fair.  I had my concerns in the days leading up to the fair, but was fairly impressed through most of the day yesterday that they seemed to be doing fine.  But it was clear right around 8:00 that the front of my feet were starting to blister.  And if they were this bad at 8:00, another four hours of walking would likely be very, very bad….and it was.  It had been a few years since a day at the fair had left me in this much pain but as the hours went by, as each step began cutting like a knife.  I soldiered through it but tried to hover in the same general areas and took advantage to sit down to watch a sighting whenever I got the chance, but the evening sightings were not particularly cooperative on that front.

In the early throes of my foot pain, I headed to the east side beer gardens area which typically delivers in those early evening hours and I padded my numbers fairly nicely.  But it was when I drifted away from the beer gardens that I got my best sighting from that stretch with Sighting #81, another of the few sightings I got yesterday from a girl who was probably under 21.   I spotted a cluster of 19-20ish girls and only one of them had a cigarette, a long-haired brunette in a tie-dye style blouse and jean shorts.  She wasn’t the hottest girl in the group but she was reasonably attractive and it was refreshing to see a girl that age publicly smoking in defiance of three nonsmoking friends walking through the fair with her.  I went for a pic and got one but it’s too blurry to be of much use.  Her drags and exhales were fairly standard but I made a point of walking next to her and watching three or four drags before she tossed the cigarette to the curb without bothering to crush it out.  It was another Camel Turkish Royal, a cigarette I seem to only see around fair season every year and don’t know if I’d even recognize the pack if I saw it in the store.

There’s an alleyway behind the east side beer gardens where I’d get my next memorable sighting.  Between the beer gardens and the set of port-a-potties, you occasionally get sightings of particularly stealth smoker girls back here and Sighting #84 was the latest find.  There were two attractive 20-somethings standing in the grass and only one was smoking, but it was the right girl of the two who was, another ball-cap-wearing brunette in a black top and jean shorts.  They were chatting up a whirlwind and I stopped for the show, taking three pics but none of them turning out worth a damn since it was now close to 8:30 and the pics were mostly blurry.  Unfortunately it wasn’t as productive as it should have been as she took an eternity between drags and always turned her head away from me (and away from her friend) to drag and exhale, rendering the rewards for my patience limited.  I was there a good eight minutes before she finished the cigarette, threw it into the grass and walked back towards the beer gardens with her blond friend.  She was a beauty though and it was still nice to know that she was a smoker.  It was also nice to give my feet a little downtime given the escalating pain the next three hours would bring.  I walked over to check out the discarded butt before I pressed on.  It was a Camel Blue.

For the general mediocrity of the day, I will say the numbers were holding up very nicely.  It wasn’t even 9:00 and I already had 90 sightings, which wasn’t too far off from my all-time best.  I hadn’t really scored anything yet this year from The Depot, the open-air bar and grill on the west side of the grounds, but that was about to change as I encircled the perimeter and saw a promising sighting of a worker finishing off her cigarette before walking away out of sight (story of the day) but I ascended the stairs in front of the patio seating and came upon a redeeming cluster of four young hotties.  They must have been varied in ages because a couple of these girls didn’t even look 18 let alone 21.  One of the older looking girls, who I still figured couldn’t have been a day older than 21, was standing up directly in front of me on the other side of the railing with her blond hair up in a ponytail and wearing a blue top and sexy jean shorts.  I didn’t hold out much hope that any of these girls were smokers given their youth and general wholesome look so I still wasn’t processing it when the blond standing in front of me opened up her tiny little purse, which didn’t look big enough to hold a pack of cigarettes anyway.  So imagine my stunned elation when she extracted a cork-filter cigarette from an unidentifiable pack and placed it between her lips.  Sweet Jesus!  And then she lit up and blew my mind when she took an epic dangling drag off the light-up, and while still dragging two giant dragon blasts of smoke rocketed out of her nose.  I was fully prepared for my sighting of the day with Sighting #91 and got my camera phone out for a pic, thinking with as close as she was that I’d still be able to get something salvageable.  I got the pic in but it was it immediately clear, despite my all my perceived stealthness, that she knew I snapped the pic.  It was a costly mistake….

I was able to see one more drag just like the last, an intense humdinger where the blast of smoke emerging from her nostrils coincided with her dragging, something I don’t see often, particularly producing that much smoke.  I was dying to see if the younger-looking girls sitting in front of her who she was talking to would follow her lead and light up, but instead she walked away from them and to a group of guys immediately to the girls’ right.  I could see her talking to one of the guys while looking my way, as if telling on me.  This was really getting dangerous for me but apparently not dangerous enough for me to walk away as I lingered there, darting my eyes to my right hoping to see more even though there were now people standing in her way.  I did get to see one more solid drag, and this time she waited a moment before delivering the exhale, and from a distance it was arguably even cooler seeiing two smoke missiles rocketing out of her nostrils with a straight down trajectory.  She was without a shadow of a doubt the best smoker of the day style-wise and even though I was putting my safety on the line lingering here I just couldn’t walk away.  But I thought I saw her dropping the cigarette and kept hovering in the general area to see if I was right….and unfortunately I had.   Now she smoked that thing hard but there’s no way she finished it off in three or four drags.  A sighting poised to be my best of the day had fallen apart.  Between getting busted and managing only three drags, I didn’t feel fulfilled walking away from this one.  Making matters worse, the momentum that had kept my numbers up thus far last night slowed to a crawl for the coming hour, and with the escalating pain in my feet the time seemed like it went even slower without any good sightings to enjoy.

It was after 10:00 before my next memorable sighting at the east side beer gardens.  Sitting in the middle of a bench was an attractive young brunette mother who looked about 30 sitting with her husband and two young boys under 10.  Mom was holding an unlit cigarette in her hand and a pack of Pall Mall Menthols on her lap….and she was the only smoker.  There was a bench next to the family and I took a seat in time to watch mom light up, becoming Sighting #99.  It was a very cool family dynamic watching all these nonsmoking males surrounding the attractive matriarch while she’s consuming her cigarette, spewing carcinogens for every one of them to choke on.  The downside about mom’s position on the middle of this bench is that my view was obstructed so I didn’t get to see as much of her performance as I’d have preferred.  I ended up leaving halfway through the cigarette, disappointed that I hadn’t been able to see the extent of which the husband and sons were cannon fodder for mom’s cancerous habit.

I went back to the grandstand area and discovered an old favorite in what appeared to be a family cluster including older adults and young children.  It was the Sighting #46 girl in the tanktop and jean shorts who managed to be sexy even with some tattoos and facial piercings.  Standing in her presence was another young lady in her early 20s, although not the gal she was with in the afternoon pushing the stroller.  This girl was much hotter, a smoldering blond in a black minidress.  Unfortunately, she too undermined her presentation with tattoos.  It’s a compete epidemic….one of the prettiest girls of the day who elected to scar herself.  She redeemed herself nicely in a moment or two though when she broke out a pack of cigarettes, although I couldn’t see the brand because of the darkness.  The light brunette I saw this afternoon was elated at seeing the pack and said “I am so happy to see those I’ve been stuck smoking (indeterminant brand name)”.  It was pretty exciting knowing I was about to get a two-for-one sighting as the Sighting #103 blond produced a cigarette for herself and another for the Sighting #46 girl from before.  It was game on….but would it kill these girls to light up in a place where there’s a decent and inconspicuous vantage point for the guys stalking them?!?!?!  There were no benches in sight and they were in a huddle making it hard to see the faces and techniques of both at the same time so I found myself wandering conspicuously in a circle to get a better vantage point.  Neither had any stylistic bells and whistles but both were solid smokers, the blond being gorgeous with some long-distance exhales and the brunette smoking a little more quickly.  I ultimately sat down against the wall of the grandstand, taking the pressure off my feet for a few minutes and seeing what I could of the show, albeit with both girls’ backs to me for most of it.  The brunette finished her cigarette first and the brunette followed.  I could tell they were both cork filters but was never able to get close enough to identify the butts since they hovered there for several moments later.  This sighting was a solid double but the logistics were challenging and I can’t help but dock a few points for the unseemly tattoos.

The moments after this produced some adorable but short-lived encores.  The Brett Eldredge concert was still ongoing but a few nicotine-starved temptresses had to answer the call of their addicted bodies for some carcinogenic relief.  Two of them were the dark blond in the long dress with her overweight friend, but even more thrillingly, the blond and brunette cowgirls were back out there, the girls who went to the concerts without their guy friends but congregated once again for another round of cigarettes.  Now the blond was not in possession of a cigarette when I spotted her but the brunette who I preferred was.  The blond smoked faster than the brunette on the prior round so that may have been the issue here again.  I didn’t get to see much here as I couldn’t get too close anyway having been busted before, but I saw one rear drag from the brunette.  I was most excited about the fact that these two cuties paid good money for this concert but were still willing to squander it because their dependency on a regular diet of nicotine overruled the enjoyment of the concert.

It was now approaching 11:00 and my feet were in agonizing pain even as my sightings numbers were slowing down significantly at the time they’re usually soaring.  I struggled my way to the east side beer gardens area one last time and got a few winners.  Two of them were in the same cluster.  Sighting #108 was an early 20s blond who looked a little like Allison Krauss while Sighting #109 was a brunette in a little white dress and cowgirl boots.  They were both attractive but the brunette had a little more IT factor, which is a good thing because the blond lost her cigarette one way or another the second time I laid eyes on her.  This allowed me the opportunity to check out this brunette more thoroughly as she galavanted around amongst friends with cigarette in hand, giving two of them stinky hugs.  I hovered closeby and watched her smoke, enjoying the show early on until her drags got slower and it became clear that she was also aware of me.  I drifted off a few feet to the east, still looking over my shoulder in hopes of catching the brunette’s impressively cloudy exhales when possible.  But in my new location I was treated to another newcomer as a young couple in their mid-20s stepped out of the bar in a way that I knew was gonna result in tobacco use despite them both looking quite wholesome, especially the blond gal with a girl-next-door face dressed in a conservative T-shirt and jeans.  Sure enough a pack of Marlboro Lights came out of her purse and a cigarette was produced by both her and the boyfriend.  Sighting #110 was not only a smoker but an extremely skilled one, lighting herself up and then doing an extended dangling drag off the lightup, dangling that thing for a good 20 seconds before removing it from her mouth.  Unfortunately, I looked over towards the brunette one too many times and made direct eye contact with her, at which point she nudged the boyfriend and began pointing my direction.  Time for me to go, hard as it was to abandon all of these smokers at the same spot.  I’m not sure what my issue was yesterday but I got busted a good half dozen times.  I don’t think I was any more aggressive or obvious this year compared to my past adventures, but it was kind of a wake-up call that one of these times I’m gonna get busted and it won’t end well, and particularly given the condition of my feet last night I was in no position to hold my own or even run away.  I walked away and would not return to the east side beer gardens again, not that my feet would have allowed it anyway.

There’s an after-dark teen hangout area in the middle of the grounds across the street from the midway that I continued to explore last night, but not as much as usual.  There simply isn’t any smoking there anymore, and it’s just heartbreaking to think back even five years ago when I saw considerable smoking in the location.  As I was encircling that area, the fireworks started, which meant the grandstand show had just ended.  I plodded along to the grandstand area in hopes of catching the crowd leaving the show, although most of the smoker girls I was most excited about left the show prematurely anyway.  I scored a spattering of sightings as the crowd spilled out but nothing too exceptional.  It was well after 11 now and every step I took was horrifically painful.  I was trying to walk differently to avoid the blisters on the front of my feet but doing so just accentuated the pain on other pressure points.  I found myself sitting down quite a bit and probably missing out on a few sightings.  I slowly worked my way to The Depot and outside sitting at a bench was a cute and wholesome blond in leggings sitting there with her boyfriend for a smoke.  Sighting #117 reminded me a lot of a slightly younger version of the Sighting #110 blond at the east side beer gardens a bit earlier, although her smoking style wasn’t nearly as memorable.  I joined the sighting in progress though and only got to see a couple of drags before she crushed the cork filter Camel out beneath her feet.  This gal was also a milestone sighting in that she was my 2,000th Iowa State Fair sighting going back to 2006.

It was now after 11:30 and I was gonna putz around a bit longer in hopes of padding my numbers a little and ideally beating last year’s count of 122 sightings, and I did so by encircling The Depot one final time, where I’d find two early 20s brunette hotties lingering near the guy at the till with cigarettes in hand.  Sightings #121 and #122 were both about equally attractive but the darker-haired girl lingered in the background smoking in peace while the more wholesome-looking lighter brunette in a floral print minidress was directly engaging with the guy behind the register, at one point taking a drag and exhaling straight ahead of her.  She didn’t nail the guy directly in the face with her exhale but she certainly invaded his airspace and it was adorable.  The two of them soon walked away and I followed them, managing to get splashed in the face by a couple of their exhales as they proceeded towards the back of The Depot where I’d spot another wholesome brunette in a different group smoking.

The pain was keeping me from getting the kind of enjoyment out of this that I would have just a few hours earlier so I decided I better take off and get on my shuttle bus.  I’d pass one more smoker girl on the way though, a wholesome brunette in a cutesy little dress dancing with friends, the only girl of the three wielding a cigarette.  It was a nice sendoff image but I had a long painful walk to my bus ahead of me.  From there it was the drive back to the bus stop and a very painful three-block walk back to my car after midnight, my body radiating heat having baked in the sun all day.  I think part of my problem getting spotted so much is that I was lobster-red and covered in sweat, probably looking like I was drunk or high or both and immediately drawing attention to myself.

I’ve had worse days of fetishing but there were a combined number of factors about this day that leave me feeling cold 24 hours later.  There weren’t any bona fide rock star sightings as I consider a must for any given day of fairgrounds fetishing, the dearth of underage smokers has reached epidemic levels, the fact that I was constantly getting busted when doing the same routine I’ve generally gotten away with in years past, and the lingering issue with foot blisters all contributed to this disappointment.  Considering that nearly 24 hours later, my feet are still in pain and blistered in the worst spot, I’m worried about the days to come as I have three sets of shoes, none of them sufficient for a day at the fair.  Two of these days are coming up in the next six.  We’ll see if I’m even recovered by Wednesday or Thursday when I go back for my second half-day in Iowa, but even if I am sure I’m sure I’ll flare the blisters right back up again.  It’s a bit of crisis right now for me.  All in all though, I got a number of extra-base hits and got pics of most of them so I’m trying to look at the bright side.



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