DES MOINES, Iowa –At the Iowa State Fair, the August heat can be overwhelming and the corn dogs can put you in a bit of a food coma.
With so much to see, do, and eat, places to take a load off can be hard to come by, but there is somewhere you can escape the heat.
“If it’s hot, we’re air conditioned, so that’s good,” said Sharon Meisenheimer, coordinator of the Iowa State Fair Sew-In.
There’s a catch. You’ll be put to work.
“We don’t let anyone just stand around,” said Meisenheimer.
From 12-5 each day of the fair, you can bring your steady hands and a willingness to learn to the South Hallway of the Varied Industries Building.
“It can be a person anywhere from 8 to 80 or even older.”
There, people like Meisenheimer will train you to guide 15 strips of fabric through the sewing machine as you work to build a beautiful quilt.
Anyone, regardless of their skill level is welcomed to give it a try. Wren Gamble hadn’t sewed in years, but says it didn’t take long to get the hang of it.
“It takes a lot of hard work and focus, but it’s actually really simple once you get going,” Gamble told Channel 13 News.
If you’re looking for a souvenir, you’ll leave with a commemorative pin for your work, but the quilts are going elsewhere.
“We’ll be donating to Lutheran Social Services, ChildServe, and Angel Tree,” said Meisenheimer.
This is one way to give back as much as you’re taking in at the fair.
“You’re making something. You’re making something for somebody else, and doing something for somebody else,” said Meisenheimer.
Last year, 300 quilts were donated to local children’s organizations.
You don’t have to sew a quilt from start to finish, but if you choose to, organizers say it takes about 3 hours.