Children take part in the Intermediate 4-H Sheep Showmanship competition in the Sheep Barn at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Aug. 11. The competitors are judged on their ability to display and control the sheep rather than on the characteristics of the animals themselves.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME

Potatoes and Politics: See Photos From the 2019 Iowa State Fair

August 14, 2019

Pigeon competitions, potato champions and a plethora of politicians are just some of the highlights at the Iowa State Fair, which kicked off Aug. 8 and will wrap up on Aug. 18 in Des Moines. All twenty Democratic presidential candidates have landed, trying to foster connections with voters ahead of the Iowa caucus in February 2020.

So far this year, Sen. Bernie Sanders enjoyed a corndog and visited the sculpted Butter Cow, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose appearance at the fair drew large and energetic crowds, gamely stood for pictures with fans. Vegan Sen. Cory Booker had some deep-fried vegetables and took a spin on a ferris wheel, while Sen. Kamala Harris showed off her skills at the grill.

Beyond sampling the food offerings, the presidential candidates hitting the fair also talked policy and exchanged ideas with the local farmers. One notable change this year from prior fair appearances: Democratic candidates are directly addressing climate change. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee talked about his climate-focused plan with farmers, and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan talked about how farmers can capture carbon in soil across various speeches he gave in Iowa.

The photos below show both the fair’s liveliness and quiet moments, from cattle lounging to men lined up to have their beards judged in the Best Groomed contest. They also show the moments of preparation: miniature horse competitors right before showing and parking attendants waiting for the crowds to arrive. See the Iowa State Fair unfold below.

Cattle rest in the Cattle Barn on Aug. 12.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
Jett Thomas, 17, of Carlisle, Iowa, holds his 2.1 pound pigeon after judging in the Heaviest and Lightest Pigeon Contest on Aug. 12. Thomas won the contest for heaviest pigeon, as he has done so for the past 7 or 8 years.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
Members of the media are seen in front of a food vendor as they follow Elizabeth Warren as she poses for selfies after speaking at the Political Soapbox on Aug. 10.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg greets people as he walks through the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 13.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
Parking attendants wait for cars at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 11.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker rides the ferris wheel on Aug. 10.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
An overflowing trash can is seen at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 10.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
A girl watches as Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker speaks at the political soapbox at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 10.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders visits the sculpted Butter Cow in the Agriculture Building while surrounded by media and crowds on Aug. 11.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer speaks with farmer Kyle Gilchrist of Douds, Iowa on Aug. 11. Gilchrist was concerned about how an increasing minimum wage would affect him paying his farm workers.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
A boom mic is seen above the fray as Pete Buttigieg greets people as he walks through the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 13.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
People look up as South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg rides the Sky Glider on Aug. 13.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
Elizabeth Warren poses for selfies after speaking at the Political Soapbox on Aug. 10.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
Miniature horse competitors prepare to enter the arena for the Horse Show in the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center on Aug. 12.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
Greg Bartlett, of Nevada, Iowa, eats a corn dog at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 10. Bartlett says he's been coming to the fair since 1977 and always gets a corn dog "or something new on a stick."
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
Champion potatoes on display in the Agriculture Building at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 10.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
2019 Iowa State Fair Queen Hannah Koellner, 18, of Eddyville, Iowa, judges entries in the Best Groomed beard contest in Pioneer Hall on Aug. 13.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME
Former Mass. governor Bill Weld, a Republican presidential candidate, speaks at the Political Soapbox on Aug. 11.
M. Scott Brauer for TIME

Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com.