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IOWA STATE FAIR FUN: Bacon balls on a stick, bubble gum blowing contest

DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) – The celebration of the summer is here.

Hundreds of thousands of people are visiting the Iowa State Fair. It’s been around since 1854.

Every summer, the fair releases a list of new food items. On the list this year: Berkshire Bacon Balls on a stick. ‘The Bacon Box’ sells the unique pork treat.  

“You take this Berkshire ground pork, some of the best pork you can get. We have a whipped American cheese center, chopped bacon, and then we make this pork meatball around that, wrap it with bacon, smoke it, and dip it in barbecue sauce to order,” Bacon Ball expert Scott Stroud said.

The creators of the new treat have been perfecting the recipe for quite some time. They prepare the meat offsite, bring it to the stand, and smoke hundreds of Bacon Balls at a time. They take one hour to make.

Stroud said they expected to sell 1,600 Bacon Balls in one day. They recently beat that with 4,000.

“It’s funny being right next to the Varied Industries Building. As soon as they walk out the door, ‘Bacon on a stick?’ We have a little fence out back where the smokers are, so I kind of hear all of this over the fence and it cracks me up,” Stroud said. “It’s gotten very good reception.”

We’ve seen the beard growing contest and the Mr. Legs contest.

But how about the bubble gum blowing contest at the Anne and Bill Riley Stage?!

Contestants are given two pieces of bubble gum. They’re then split into age groups. The goal is to blow the biggest bubble you can. Judges pull out their rulers to measure.

Stephanie Hoch has been going to the Fair for more than three decades. She shared some of her secrets.

“I always wear ChapStick to keep [the gum] from sticking to my lips, pull my hair back, and don’t wear glasses,” she said laughing. “You gotta chew the gum to get all the sugars out for a little bit. I don’t know. It’s just my mom has always been able to blow a good bubble, and I guess she taught me, I guess.”

One 11-year-old said he blew an 8.5-inch bubble.

“I just closed my eyes and focused and just blew the bubble,” Owen Weis said.

For schedules and ticket information, visit:

Olivia Schmitt

Morning Reporter at KWWL

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