Author, West Des Moines

Phone: (515) 371-1347

Mary Kay Shanley is the author of ten books, including Our State Fair—Iowa’s Blue Ribbon Story, The Memory Box and She Taught Me to Eat Artichokes, a bestseller. Named an Iowa Author of the Year, Shanley is an instructor at the University of Iowa’s Summer Writing Festival and leads multi-day writing retreats. She is a member of the Iowa Center for the Book Foundation and occasionally teaches at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville.

Our State Fair Is a Great State Fair (But You Already Know That!)

Our State Fair – Iowa’s Blue Ribbon Story is the book that chronicles 150 years of Iowans who have collectively made up our unique August experience. You’ll discover a bit of yourself in their stories – from watching two locomotives collide in front of a packed Grandstand to riding the Roller Coaster or sneaking a smooch with your sweetheart while gliding through Ye Old Mill, from parading your Charolais around the ring to watching judges test your piecrust, from camping in Tent City to eating your noon meal beside your car. Author Mary Kay Shanley shares best-of-the-best tales, which are accompanied by a few of the book’s 500 brilliant photographs. There’ll be time for sharing because everybody has a great State Fair story to tell.

The Magic of Our Memories

Iowans are a people with roots. We grow well in the black soil that blankets our state, in this beautiful land between two rivers. Here are our homes, our families, our memories. We’ll discuss the importance of those memories — from first day of school to leaving home. We’ll embrace our similar experiences — from peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches to parallel parking. And we’ll reflect on life-changing events — from becoming a parent to the horror of 9/11. Truly, our memories have shaped us into who we are today. We’ll also talk about ways of interpreting the past – oral histories, storytelling and journaling.