At lunch in Columbus, OH, during a library conference, I met a librarian from Iowa. I confessed I'd never been to Iowa, although I'd been close when we attended my son's wedding in Illinois, near the border with Iowa.
"There was nothing on TV when we got back to our motel," I told him, "except the Iowa State Fair, and they were televising a cow-chip throwing contest. Exciting stuff!"
Well, he said, one year there was quite a to-do.
"There was a real stink about the contest a few years back. Seems that there weren't enough cow chips in Iowa for the contest, and they had to be imported from California. People didn't like that at all!"
"Not enough? But why on earth...?"
"Everyone's growing corn these days," he explained. "They can make more money growing corn for ethanol than they can raising cattle, so there aren't very many cows left in Iowa. No cows, no cow chips!"
The things you can learn, talking to strangers. Who ever would have thought it? I tried to google this to verify his story, and here's what I found at http://www.senioryears.com/pat.html :
"About a year ago, the Des Moines Register ran a story headed Aw, poop! Fair uses imported cowpies, written by its Farm Editor, Jerry Perkins. "Here's a stinker," it began. "The cow chips thrown at the Iowa State Fair come from Oklahoma."It's not that Iowa's cow chips aren't good enough, fair officials say. It's just that Oklahoma cornered the cow-chip market years ago. In 1979, back when Iowa's dung discus-throwing contest began, the Oklahoma panhandle was the only place that sold the chips, said Kathie Swift, the fair's marketing director."
California or Oklahoma--either way, it's a great story!