It’s never entirely predictable what days you’re gonna have a demographic of fairgoer helpful to sightings, but there are some days I look at the entertainment lineup and know I could be in for a weak night. For this year’s midweek encore trip to the Iowa State Fair, my choices were between Wednesday night and Thursday night, both featuring entertainers in the grandstand and free stages that did not seem likely to draw in younger people. But I figured former Poison lead singer Bret Michaels’ free stage show would be a better option on Wednesday night than anything Thursday had to offer, so I went with Wednesday. I got off my shuttle bus just before 5:00 on Wednesday and as I walked in the gate with my half-priced late-weekday admission, I didn’t have a good feeling at all about the night and pondered that it might be my worst night ever. And I ended up not being too far off. My second day at the 2013 Iowa State Fair (also a Wednesday night) was a calamity as well but that was more of a situation where I had only a handful of extra-base hits all night yet salvaged it with two homeruns that both made my top-15 for the year. This year I had no homeruns at all but a better haul of extra-base hits. The real bummer for this trip though was the overall sightings number. In seven hours of fetishing, I managed only 51 sightings, only one above my all-time low for a night at the Iowa State Fair, and that was back in 2007 when I was probably there an hour and a half less than last night.
But there were some high points to this trip and one girl in particular that should generate some excitement among readers. I ventured around the grounds past all the tractors participating in the tractor pull and then migrated to the south side where I’d see an attractive 30-ish blond in a white top and jean shorts standing outside a livestock building finishing off a cigarette. I got to see the last two drags that she hastily attended to before crushing out the butt and heading back into the livestock building. Sighting #1 was under my belt, and her discarded butt was a Marlboro Light, which seems to be rising in popularity again, although certainly not back to 90s levels. This gal must have been a farm gal in some capacity because she was around that cattle barn a lot that night. I’d see her two more times last night, both in the company of a nonsmoking guy, and one other time she was smoking again.
It was a slow slog from there and a good hour passed before the next noteworthy girl. Sighting #4 could be seen from a good 75 yards away standing in line for a beverage on the concourse decked out in a ball cap, a black tanktop, and white shorts with cowgirl boots on her feet….and a freshly lit cigarette in her left hand as she stood in line. It was a helluva presentation and I hustled on up to get a better look. The ponytailed brunette was attractive but appeared older than I originally hoped. It was hard to tell exactly how old she was because her face appeared early 30s in some glances but younger in others. I got a rear and a frontal pic and she definitely looks older in the frontal pic. Whatever the case, her presentation sold me as she then walked across the street to the front of one of the commercial buildings and smoked her cigarette. I hovered for a bit and observed some drags, which were all fairly average. In a couple of minutes, an unattractive friend who looked much younger (mid 20s) came outside and she then lit up too. There was no good vantage point so I walked away, hoping for more from this one but also pleased to be getting anything at all with as dead as the night had been thus far.
Moments later as I drifted to the edge of the midway I’d come upon Sighting #5, a sexy brunette seated on a bench smoking alone who I figured was early 20s but later ended up questioning that theory for reasons I’ll get into later. Again the presentation was spectacular, looking badass with her shoulder-length medium-brown hair with sunglasses and a black tanktop, and an absolutely heartbreaking pair of short acid-washed jean shorts with her smooth, tanned legs crossed. I got several pics of her but unfortunately never caught her in mid-drag. The show didn’t feature any major bells and whistles but it was still a treat to watch her smoke the cigarette, dragging at a pretty steady clip as she tended to her phone and releasing smoke in tight exhales in front of her. A sighting that seemed as cut and dry as they come got a bit more complicated moments later when approaching this brunette was a very hot blond in a bare midriff top and bright blue jean shorts, reaching her hand out to take a drag from the brunette’s cigarette. Didn’t see that coming as the blond became Sighting #6, taking a single modest drag and then handing it back to the brunette. I’d have figured the brunette was 22 but this blond looked more like about 19, and I feverishly tried to add the blond in a pic of her own, but only managed one from the rear that didn’t do justice to her. The brunette soon finished the cigarette, leaning forward to crush it out on the pavement. I hung by not expecting much more but at least wanted a butt ID. Instead, two more blonds joined the group, one of them who looked about 16 and the other who looked early 20s. It was an odd group and confused me whether they were friends all around the same age who just looked like they were a few years apart or if they actually were a few years apart. They soon took off and unfortunately there were two butts almost right on top of each other so I didn’t know which one my leggy brunette had smoked. I nonetheless followed for a bit, hoping to see additional tobacco use transpire. When nothing did after about five minutes, I moved on, really hoping to see more of them later in the night. I would see them again a couple of hours later but unfortunately without any smoking. I think a second act from this sighting, particularly if it involved that smoldering hot bare-midriffed blond getting a full smoking performance of her own, would have elevated this one to the caliber of a year-end best list.
It continued to be a slow go. The south side seating area produced only one sighting last night, another one with great potential that ended up disappointing. Sighting #9 was this late 20s blond with a great presentation in a pink top and jean shorts smoking next to a nonsmoking husband, but the closer I got I noticed she had really managed to mess up the skin tone on her face, presumably by tanning. I’m sure as a teenager she was incredibly hot, but she did not hold up well at all here. It’s too bad too because she was a great smoker, exhaling a monstrous blob of smoke in the direction opposite her nonsmoking man.
Working out a little better way down on the southern end of the fairgrounds was Sighting #13, a young mommy with a toddler who had just lit up. She was a brunette in a green T-shirt and black shorts who looked mid-20s. She wasn’t a top-tier beauty by any means but there was something about her utilitarian presentation that was intriguing. I managed a pretty good photo of her holding but from there the baby daddy showed up and he was smoking too. They proceeded down the grounds with cigarettes in hand but the brunette soon crushed hers out to save the rest for later. It was the latest sign that a good clean sighting from beginning to end would keep being elusive for me this year.
This pattern continued as a classic good news/bad news scenario unfolded in the center of the grounds when I came upon this mixed-gender cluster of teens where I saw one of the boys smoking. I encircled the group and found a chubby and freckly redheaded girl, the least attractive of the four females, with a pack of Marlboro Blacks that she proceeded to stuff into her back pocket. When I see a girl in possession of cigarettes that I am almost certain are hers, I count it as a sighting, so this girl was officially Sighting #15, but I never actually saw her smoking all night and suspect I narrowly missed her on a couple of occasions. This teen cluster would continue to tease me and break my heart for the rest of the night unfortunately.
I wouldn’t have long to feel sorry for myself though as I was migrating south and only a couple of minutes later saw this extremely hot dark brunette in a white blouse and incredibly tight navy blue cutoffs extracting an all-white cigarette from her purse and installing it in her lips. Oh how I’d have loved to get a pic of her light-up but Sighting #17 was too quick. I’m guessing she was about 24 and had an overflowing quotient of IT factor smoking her cigarette in the presence of a boyfriend I at first presumed was a nonsmoker. Pretty much immediately, the sighting got active as the smoker girl came across a young girl who looked about six in the presence of an older woman. I’m very skeptical the girl was her daughter but it’s possible. The ashtray-mouthed sexpot excitedly greeted the young girl and almost immediately approached one of the fairgrounds police with freshly lit cigarette in hand, almost as if asking if it’s okay if she smokes in the fairgrounds. She went on to engage in about a minute of friendly banter with this police officer as if they were good friends before chatting it up again with the older woman, the young girl, and her boyfriend/husband, with her being the only smoker of the four. She held her cigarette up in a bent-elbow pose about even with her shoulder, presumably to avoid torching the little girl with it. I was feverishly taking photos and thinking I was landing some great ones, even though her drags came fairly slowly. More later on why my photos didn’t quite like up to expectations…..
The group hovered for a couple of minutes before they started drifting into the midway. I followed, continuing to snap photos and enjoying this girl’s presentation which practically dripped with sex appeal, and never more than when she took a drag from her cigarette. Slowly paced as they were, she nailed the drags and especially the delayed exhales, where smoke hung out inside her black lungs for a good 7-8 seconds on a couple of occasions before I watched her tilt her head up to exhale a nice stream into the early evening sky. I was taking plenty of risks here and especially when the group started a stop-and-go routine in the midway, always forcing me to stay on my toes to not get busted and moving away out of sight on occasion. At one point I did this and she no longer had the cigarette when my eyes caught back up with her, but then I noticed a two-thirds smoked cigarette in the hand of the boyfriend/husband and it took the wind out of my sail a little bit as I hoped she was the only smoker of the group. I nonetheless walked away figuring this would likely be my best sighting of the night, but thankfully for me this girl was far from done. As for all those photos I had gotten, it was approaching sunset and for whatever reason there was a dark shadow hovering in this location for all of my pics. Most of them turned out enough to see her, but none of them are vibrant enough to fully appreciate her. If there’s a way to brighten these photos after they’re taken on either my phone or my computer I’m not aware of it, so I’m afraid I’m stuck with darker photos of her.
It was almost 8:00 by now and I was finally getting some momentum that would continue as I approached the seating area outside the grandstand and came upon Sighting #20, a ponytailed 20-something blond who appeared to work in the grandstand and was out on a smoke break. She wore this “#girlboss” ball cap with her long blond hair coming out the back in a ponytail, with a black tanktop and white shorts completing the ensemble. She was standing there talking to a group of older people she clearly knew, two of the three of whom were also smoking. The bench next to them was open and I got two great photos, one of her in mid-drag. She was a great smoker with nice long drags of the eye-squinting variety and cloudy exhales that were sent out of her respiratory system in my general direction. She was decently attractive but didn’t have the glowing beauty of the previous brunette, although impressed just as much presentation wise between the white shorts and the front-row seat to her smoking show. The older people were talking about their vacation plans and the girl was congratulating them on their travels and expressing some jealousy that she didn’t get to go with. I watched her smoke most of the cigarette before she dropped it to the pavement and crushed it out. I returned moments later after the group had left and IDed her butt as a Marlboro Light Special Blend.
Minutes later, I’d score again as I was heading to the northwest side of the grounds and saw out of the corner of my eye from behind that Sighting #21, another blond cutie in her early 20s in a black tanktop and red shorts, was lighting up a cigarette amidst a nonsmoking family group that included a couple of children. I was feverishly snapping pics and thinking I was really nailing some, knowing that because of the approaching sunset that some wouldn’t turn out. Unfortunately, the family was on their way out of the fair and approaching the exit, but I figured I had another 30 seconds before they were out and watched the blond smoker in the presence of a 10ish boy in the family group and exposing him to her cancerous secondhand fumes. Then she hung back for a bit to smoke and was really putting on a nice show. I sat on an open bench near the exit and was snapping stealth pics, believing I was really nailing a couple of them as she proceeded towards the exit and left the grounds. Imagine my horror as I checked my phone and noticed that only two of the seven or so pics I attempted actually took, and only one that was even passable. It was one more frustration to a night (and fair season in general) that was full of them. With that said, I had a solid string of extra-base hits going and even though I was significantly behind schedule, figured a halfway decent night may yet be salvageable.
From there, it was off to the east side of the grounds where I wanted to catch some of the concert by 90s country singer Marty Stuart. On my way there, I got the briefest of sightings from Sighting #23, a well-tanned blond with braided pigtails, a hot pink, bare-midriffed blouse and acid-washed light blue jean shorts. It was an incredible presentation and I saw a cigarette in her hand as I approached. Despite two guys hovering in the general area, I managed to time a pic perfectly and this one actually turned out….but what didn’t is that the cigarette that was in her hand as I first noticed her no longer was. She stood up and approached the thuggish-looking early 20s guys and I looked down to where she sat to find an only one-third smoked Camel Light Menthol butt lying on the pavement smoldering. Grrrr! I’d see this girl a couple more times that night in the presence of the same thuggish guys. The guys always seemed to be smoking but she never was.
From there it was off to the Susan Knapp Amphitheater for Marty Stuart. I’ve always been a fan of his even though I knew he probably wouldn’t be a big draw for younger people. Still, imagine my disappointment when I get to the show and pretty much see nothing but Rascals and Hoverrounds and senior citizens as far as the eye can see. Am I that damn old that I like the same guy that these people do?!?!? Much as I’d have liked to listen to Marty, there was no way I’d sacrifice an hour and a half of sightings time in a place like this where I’d almost assuredly get no sightings. I walked away and would only briefly return at the very end of the show. In the meantime, it was time to check out the other washed-up old-timer performing on the free stages tonight..Bret Michaels of Poison who was clear over at the out-in-the-boondocks Bud Light Stage in the southwest corner of the grounds. I hate this stage because it’s so far from anything else on the fairgrounds but ventured down there to find a good-sized crowd for Michaels as I figured there would be. I knew the crowd would likely skew older but also figured there might be a younger crowd who nonetheless dug that 80s-era rock or got into it because their parents were. There didn’t seem to be much evidence of that as the crowd was decidedly middle-aged. It was a younger crowd than Marty Stuart was drawing to be sure but in the 15 minutes or so I spent encircling the crowd, I didn’t see much hope for sightings of young hotties and managed only one modest sighting while there. If this stage wasn’t a three-blocks-each-way walk from any other part of the fairgrounds that had a pulse, I’d have spent more time here, but I had to abort.
When I got back to the concourse, I’d have another weird heartbreaker as I came upon the same mixed-gender group of 17-year-olds where I saw the redhead with the pack of Marlboro Blacks earlier. I approached from behind and laid my eyes on this 17ish long-haired brunette in a red top and tight pale blue jeans. I saw a burst of smoke erupt from her face and then saw her drop a butt to the pavement and stomp it out. Noooo! Obviously that was enough to count her as Sighting #30, but I wanted so much more out of the first and perhaps only teen cutie I’d see smoking at the entire Iowa State Fair. I hovered in the general area for a couple of minutes and then made out that she had another cork-filter cigarette in her hand, albeit unlit, with only about three remaining drags worth of tobacco left to smoke. The thought crossed my mind that she may have had pot in there but that didn’t make sense in a filtered cigarette, so I figured it had to be one of the friend’s Marlboro Blacks that she was preparing to smoke more of. I excitedly followed as their group drifted, but it was clear that this girl and another cutiepie teen friend were wandering separately on their own, at one point breaking apart for good. I followed and watched this girl hold the cigarette between her fingers as she walked as if the thing was lit and she was smoking it, but she just kept walking. I figured maybe she was looking for someone with a lighter to help her ignite the thing, and thus got excited when she came across the redhead with the pack of Marlboro Blacks in her back pocket, thinking she’d be the source of the light needed to get this show moving. But they just kept walking together, eventually chatting with a couple of older people they seemed to know. I probably wasted 15 minutes on them before I lost them and finally decided to just give up. It was so frustrating, and about a half hour later I’d see this same group, saw one puff of smoke from the middle of the crowd as I approached, and got there to find my two favorite teens walking away again. That’s all I’d get from them, aside from a blurry after-dark rear pic that at least shows off how nice her ass looks in those tight jeans. Fetishing has rarely been as big of a logistical struggle for me as it’s been this fair season.
I would get some relief from this frustration though with an encore performance from the evening’s star player as a cluster of two young guys and gals were walking west down the concourse, two of whom were wielding cigarettes. It was that dark brunette (Sighting #17) in the tight navy blue cutoffs previously seen exposing cops and small children to her carcinogenic trail of death. She was such a sight for sore eyes and I had an open path to follow her this time. As we walked, the reasonably attractive mid-20s blond in their group produced a cigarette of her own and became Sighting #32. The brunette had to give the blond her cigarette which the blond used to bring her own cigarette to life before passing it back to the brunette. Once again, the brunette was a slow smoker, which is always frustrating but her drags were so natural and her exhales so rewarding after her considerable hold times that it more than made the wait worthwhile. The blond was a mediocre smoker which made it easier to keep my eyes glued on this brunette and savor the aura of hotness and tobacco stench she was radiating. I made sure I kept close enough tabs on her to see when she dropped her cigarette to the pavement so I could ID the butt of the evening’s lone star. It was a Marlboro Light.
Another brief but satisfying sighting came as I progressed in the direction of the midway and saw this young couple where a white guy and a very dark-complected brunette girlfriend who had to have been at least partially Hispanic given her features emerged from the darkness. He wasn’t smoking but she was. I did a 18o-degree pivot and followed my Sighting #34 girl, a very unlikely mid-20s smoker girl in her utilitarian T-shirt and jeans who had an IT factor to her. She took two drags as she and the boyfriend progressed to the gate of the grandstand where the tractor pull was going on. Before walking in, she regrettably dropped the not-even-half-smoked all white to the pavement (Camel Light Menthol), but she and the boyfriend were only in there about 10 seconds before meeting whoever they were waiting for and then came back out. I got a pretty good look at her and she had a really exotic beauty to her, with features more indicative of South American heritage than Mexican. She had no ethnic accent at all though and said “I’m gonna get a corn dog and head right over there” to the friends. Definitely wished I’d have seen more smoking from her but very cool that a girl of this pedigree smokes at all.
And despite the general mediocrity of the night, I managed just enough extra base hits to keep my morale from ever sinking too low. The next came as I was heading to the south side and ran into a young couple with unlit cigarettes dangling from their mouths right at the manned gates that allow livestock trucks in and out. I immediately took notice of Sighting #36, the 22ish auburn-haired chick in a blue top and jean shorts dangling her unlit cork filter and then noticed they were stopped by the middle-aged guy who was manning the gate and asked for a light. After they lit him up, they proceeded northward and finally got around to lighting their own cigarettes. The guy was a wimpy-looking metrosexual who seemed a very unlikely fit for this rough-around-the-edges girl, who seemed very much like a long-time heavy smoker and quickly began acting even more like one after being lit up, engaging in multiple no-purpose dangles that lasted 15-20 seconds at a time while walking forward. Her exhales weren’t necessarily exceptional but those dangles were exactly the stylistic flair the evening needed. There’s always background music of some sort playing at the state fair and this girl proceeded to dance along as she walked, often in mid-dangle, and definitely had a lot of youthful energy to burn. The couple progressed to the midway and I followed, at one point getting into a conversation with the 21ish girl who was working the face painting booth at the fair, someone who oddly came up for the backdrop of another sighting about an hour later. The cigarette was starting to get short but even with just a pinch of tobacco left the girl still managed one final no-purpose dangle of the stub before walking onward into the midway with the boyfriend. She quickly dropped the cork filter butt to the ground, and far as I can tell by the markings on the butt I suspect it’s a Marlboro No. 27.
And lest you might have forgotten, there was a dark brunette hottie lurking on these grounds who seemed to have a cigarette every time I laid eyes on here. Thankfully that streak would continue as I headed to the east side of the grounds and saw the two sets of young couples emerging from the east side beer gardens, with the brunette lighting up her third cigarette that I had witnessed on the night. It was, again, a struggle to keep tabs on her given that she was immersed in this cluster of four and smoked so slowly, but I guess I can’t hold her slow smoking against her too badly when you factor in that she seems to have a lit cigarette in her hand or mouth basically nonstop. Thankfully, they settled at an empty table between two bars at the main beer gardens and the two guys and the brunette puffed away there. As usual, there was no good place for me to observe this and I was forced to walk in a semicircle on the concourse to catch a couple of her drags, the latter of which produced a honey of a cloudy, skyward-direct exhale. Having seen three cigarettes from this girl last night, I was making mental comparisons of the star sighting of last year’s Iowa State Fair, the white-dressed dangling drag queen from the double mother-daughter sighting who attended the Alabama concert. This year’s girl absolutely had the star power to rival her, but lacked the stylistic excesses of the dangling dragger, plus I just couldn’t get close enough to her for an extended front-row-seat sighting.
The midway is not normally a hotbed for sightings but it saved me the last two hours Wednesday night as a half hour later I’d score again with Sighting #41, featuring another young couple in their early to mid 20s both entering the midway wielding cigarettes. The girl really gave off a wholesome aura and, unlike the previous hard-core hottie, didn’t seem like a smoker at all with her long dark blond hair in a ponytail wearing a white top and black shorts. There were no lengthy no-purpose dangles from this girl but she attended to her cigarette regularly and released some of the most impressively cloudy exhales of the night. I thought with the bright lights of the midway, I could score a couple of decent photos but they were a blurry mess. As quickly as she smoked it didn’t take her long to finish off the cigarette, dropping it to the pavement and progressing on with her boyfriend. The discarded butt was a Marlboro Light.
The concerts were long ago over and in some previous weeknights at the fair, this meant a crowd dying down to next to nothing around 10:30. There was some of that last night, but nothing like 2013 and 2014 where 11:00 came and you could shoot a cannon through the fairgrounds and not hit anybody, and I was grateful for every bit of humanity I could clutch onto in hopes of propping up my lackluster numbers even just a little. I was slowly plugging my way towards a number that wasn’t too embarrassing and, as I said before, the midway was my saving grace and really delivered at around 11:15 when I saw a teen girl about 17 or 18 who clearly worked somewhere in the midway was finished with work for the evening and digging through her bag. Amazingly, a pack of Newports was produced, and the pitch darkness in the location was soon illuminated as she fired up a cigarette. Sighting #46 was without question the youngest girl I’d seen smoking at the Iowa State Fair in 2016 and as she stepped into a better lit area I was able to get a closer look at her. She was a total cutie, a light brunette with a ponytail and just a touch of baby fat chub hidden underneath a white top and a black pair of those dreadful athletic shorts that have unfortunately caught on in recent years. Since she was working though, I didn’t hold it against her….and being the only bona fide teen smoker I’d seen at the fair this year didn’t hurt either. She suddenly sprinted up to a couple of guys running some trinket stand at the edge of the concourse…
As was the case far too frequently, I couldn’t get a good vantage point, particularly when she sat down at the curb to tend to her cigarette. There was a wide open bench not far away that seemed promising but when I sat there, I discovered a garbage can was directly obstructing my view. Grrr! I now had to stand on the curb conspicuously in this emptying fairgrounds and dart my eyes her way to see her smoking. I only got to see a couple of drags, and both the drags and exhales were modest as you might expect. Still, the youthful innocence on this face consuming this cigarette was something I’ve been hoping to see all fair season. I’m guessing she was probably onto me, but there was no terribly awkward eye contact even though she walked across the street to finish the cigarette. Suddenly the cigarette was just gone and she was coming back over to her friends at the trinket stand reeking of fresh tobacco. I bided my time and then went over to see if I could find that butt and confirm it was a Newport. It was too dark and I could not. In the moments ahead, I made distant passes just to get a final image of that adorably wholesome teen smoker face, a face that was worthy of end-of-year acclaim even though I probably didn’t see enough actual smoking to qualify. Last year, at the very end of the Iowa State Fair, I scored another great teen smoking sighting, although I got to see much more of that one and it had a much better storyline. As gratifying as this was to see, it pales in comparison to last year’s teen babe smoking with “cousin Lisa”.
Within the next 10 minutes, the midway delivered some more in the final moments before it shut down for the evening. I was following a modestly attractive blond smoking as she walked into the midway when I came upon that same nonsmoking 21-ish blond from the face painting stand recently talking to another young smoker as she passed by. Well now she was immersed in conversation with another duo of 21ish smokers, a blond and brunette who I had seen earlier on the grounds and was elated to see they were smoking. The Sighting #48 blond had the most immediate visual draw in her pink top and dark blue jeans, but on closer inspection the Sighting #49 brunette was the prettier of the two. Her tender features made her look about 19 with her long dark brown hair flowing onto the shoulders of her black top with her perfect lower body outlined in a pair of tightly hugging black leggings. For once, I managed to find a bench nearby that provided me a great vantage point of this image and was able to see both girls attending to their cigarettes while chatting to the face-painting blond as their boyfriends lurked in the background chatting with others. The blond finished her cigarette first but my eyes were trained on this brunette who was just adorable, taking longer and more indulgent drags and releasing quality exhales. Her cigarette lasted her a good two minutes longer before she dropped it near where the blond had dropped hers. When they didn’t leave I did a final jaunt through the closing-down midway and then returned to discover both of their cigarettes were cork filter L & Ms.
It was 11:30 now and this fair was very close to calling it a night, the crowd hollowing out to the same degree I remembered from past Wednesday nights. My feet were really starting hurt, but not for the same reasons as Saturday night when new shoes were giving me blisters. I went back to my old shoes with the worn-down heels for this trip and the pain was now in my ankles because of the crooked steps brought on by the uneven heels, so I’m really in a pickle on how to proceed for my next three all-day excursions to state fairs since both sets of shoes are proving painful in their own way for me. Anyway, I was making a final pass down the concourse and past The Depot in hopes of buffeting my numbers up a couple. I didn’t get a new sighting as I walked past The Depot but I did see an old favorite…..my dark brunette sexpot in the tight navy blue cutoffs….and she was smoking AGAIN! This was her fourth cigarette of the night that I saw, which basically amounted to every time I saw her. It made me wonder if she was smoking nonstop through the night or if I was just catching her every time she was smoking. I found the nearest bench and took a quick gander but, as usual, there always seemed to be someone hovering in front of her and preventing me from getting a good view and I was standing out like a sore thumb on these empty grounds, which wasn’t good since this group had undoubtedly noticed my presence a number of times earlier in the night. I was excited that I got to see so much smoking from her and was able to walk away from this decidedly below-average night at the fair with one superstar.
On the final two-block walk to the bus stop, I did manage a final sighting as a guy opened up a pack of Marlboro Reds and passed one to a mid-20s blond walking next to him. Again, the positioning made it impossible to hover so I just kept walking to my shuttle bus, where I was one of three passengers on this dead weeknight at the fair. I’ve frequently mentioned the 2013 Iowa State Fair in this writeup as the trajectory of both days, especially the midweek evening second visits, was similar, and it turns out the comparison was prescient right to the end as I wrapped up the 2016 State Fair with 175 sightings, the same number as 2013. By comparison, last year’s impressive Thursday night haul combined with Saturday’s yielded me 211 sightings, meaning I’m down a substantial 17% this year. And there were four sightings last year that I would rate as better than anything that came this year, reinforcing my impression that the 2016 Iowa State Fair was an overall disappointment. And when I remember the three extraordinary days at the 2014 Iowa State Fair it really seems like a lifetime ago.
I have a lot of catching up to do in my final three days of the 2016 fair circuit. What’s the prognosis for this year’s Missouri State Fair? The forecast is increasingly indicating a rainy, 60-degree nightmare, but the possible upside is an evening Lady Antebellum concert which should draw a decent crowd with potentially favorable demographics. Of course if the smoker hotties are decked out in hoodies and baggie sweatpants to contend with the October weather in August, it’ll lose some effect but it’s about all I have to cling to right now. Last year’s Missouri State Fair forecast called for a cold rain as well but ended up being sunny and 90 so there’s precedent for salvaging a decent day and hopefully the entire mediocre-thus-far fair season.