-- It’s that time of year, again.
The time when White House hopefuls begin descending on the Iowa State Fair to deliver soapbox speeches, devour calorie-busting culinary inventions and court voters in the Hawkeye State, which hosts the nation’s first presidential caucuses in February.
While there’s no Iowa straw poll this year, the fair is a “contest” of sorts where candidates might have a breakthrough, or breakdown, moment while indulging in pork chop on a stick and fried butter.
Here’s a look at the top seven things to watch for at this year’s Iowa State Fair, which starts today and runs through Aug. 23:
1. Candidates and calories Jeb Bush has lost 40 pounds on the paleo diet. Hillary Clinton has been doing yoga and watching her weight. With over 75 foods on a stick, who will give in to the temptation of a double bacon corn dog, the ultimate bacon brisket bomb or apple pie on a stick? Will some presidential candidates instead opt for “lighter” fare like Caprese salad on a stick? Who will indulge in beer that is colder than ice? But all candidates will have to keep one thing in mind: In Iowa, pork is king. And one of the first tests of the presidential race is how well they can flip pork chops at the Iowa Pork Producers booth. Who will take a turn behind the grill? Will Ben Carson, who keeps a mostly meatless diet, give grilling a pork chop a try? In 2007, Mitt Romney famously flipped a chop too high and it landed on the ground – and we all know how that turned out.