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HEALTHY START: Zumba Kicks Off Fair

You can’t go to the Iowa State Fair without at least thinking about all the fried foods on a stick. But, as the state works to become the healthiest in the nation, organizers kicked off the 2012 fair with a focus on health.

Gates opened at 6 a.m. Fair goer Vanessa Smith says, “We came for the first day with the family.”

Fair goers got in free until 9 a.m., if they had a coupon. They were able to get an early start on fair fun, including their favorite foods. Smith says, “You plan out for weeks what you’re going to eat. What sounds good.”

But, this year, organizers helped Iowans get a healthy start to the Iowa State Fair. By 8 a.m., a big crowd gathered for opening ceremonies and to join Iowa’s largest Zumba class.

On stage, Governor Terry Branstad said, “I want to thank you Zumba people for being here.” He mispronounced it at first, and corrected himself saying, “Zoom-ba, I’m going to have to learn to pronounce it one of these days.”

Governor Branstad passed on taking part in the Latin inspired fitness craze. He told Channel 13, “My wife said to be a little careful when you don’t know what you’re doing. You might throw out something.”

But, thousands of other fair goers packed the concourse to give it a try. Organizers planned the twenty minute class as part of the Healthiest State Initiative, which is a public/private partnership to make Iowa the healthiest state by 2016. Governor Branstad says, “We know we have a long ways to go, but you got to start somewhere. Making the Iowa State Fair a little healthier, that’s a great place to start.”

Hy-Vee prepared a healthier food guide to help fair goers find lower calorie food choices. And, Iowa State University Extension helped make a walking routes map, so fair goers can burn a few extra calories after indulging in a corn dog. Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds says she’ll have one, “Of course, we’re going to walk it off.” Governor Branstad added, “Do it in moderation.”

The fair runs through Sunday, August 19th. You can get in half price Monday through Thursday after 5 p.m. and on Extreme Sunday, the final day of the fair.

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