NPR logo

Hard Work, Some Play At The Iowa State Fair

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Hard Work, Some Play At The Iowa State Fair

Hard Work, Some Play At The Iowa State Fair

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


For most families, the state fair is all about corndogs and carousels. But for many farm families, it's still about agriculture and hard work. We've been checking in periodically on Craig and LaVon Griffieon. They're farmers near Ankeny, Iowa. Two of the Griffieon children are members of FFA, and you may know it by its old name, Future Farmers of America. And today, we go with them to the Iowa State Fair. The story comes to us from John Biewen of a Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

Mrs. LAVON GRIFFIEON (Farmer, Ankeny, Iowa): We can just take the pan out, I think.

Ah, I'm LaVon Griffieon. We're down at the Iowa State Fair fixing breakfast for the FFA.

(Soundbite of people talking)

Mrs. L. GRIFFIEON: It was requested that we make biscuits and gravy.

(Soundbite of people talking)

Mrs. L. GRIFFIEON: They have a little dormitory down here and actually sleep here all night long with the animals.

Mr. PHILLIP GRIFFIEON (Member, National FFA Organization): I think we have 20 beds in there. My name is Phillip Griffieon, and I'm 17. The mattresses aren't the greatest. They've been around for about 40 years now.

Ms. JULIE GRIFFIEON (Member, National FFA Organization): I'm Julie Griffieon. I am 15. Well, in the Avenue of Breeds, which the (unintelligible) FFA runs, we have about 55 different breeds of animal.

Mr. P. GRIFFIEON: Hogs, cattle, horses, sheep, and exotic animals.

Ms. J. GRIFFIEON: We get up at 5:30, and we go and we feed them, and we clean out their stalls, and we walk them, and we take them up to tryouts and we bring them back at night.

Mr. P. GRIFFIEON: Then we clean out pens again. Get done cleaning out pens around 10:30-11:00, go get cleaned up, and either go to bed or else we go walk around the fair.

(Soundbite of neigh)

Mrs. L. GRIFFIEON: Where we headed, Craig? Back to the egg building?

Mr. CRAIG GRIFFIEON (Farmer, Ankeny, Iowa): Yeah, probably hear that clipping.

(Soundbite of hoof beats)

Mr. C. GRIFFIEON: It's the work horses. They're exercising them. They show today, Belgians do.

Ms. J. GRIFFIEON: Mom, this way. We're looking at a cherry dresser that my great-great-great grandfather had, and I refinished it. And it went to county fair, and it got sent to state fair, and it got a blue ribbon. So I'm pretty excited about it. It's the second year in a row that I've had something go to state fair and get a blue.

Mr. C. GRIFFIEON: When I was a kid, we showed the county fair and the state fair. And so, yeah, I've been coming to the state fair I don't know how many years, somewhere around 50, probably.

(Soundbite of people talking)

Mr. C. GRIFFIEON: A lot of times you only see people one time a year here at the state fair, and you might not see them for another year again.

Ms. J. GRIFFIEON: Over here, there are some baby sheep that were born yesterday, I think.

Mrs. L. GRIFFIEON: Oh, look at them. They're adorable.

Ms. J. GRIFFIEON: And there are some baby goats. They're pretty small...

Mr. C. GRIFFIEON: It's basically the culture of the state. Everybody in Iowa can come and display their animals, like cattle breeds and pig breeds, and show what Iowa grows and the best of the best.

NORRIS: The Griffieon family of Ankeny, Iowa. Our producer is John Biewen. He had help from John Dillard of Iowa Public Radio. And you can see photos of the Griffieon family throughout the seasons at our website,

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: Looking for financial guidance not on Wall Street, but on Broadway. That's coming up on All Things Considered.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.