What do corn dog stands, Ferris wheels, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago have in common?

All are on exhibit at the 1998 Iowa State Fair, which kicked off Thursday in Des Moines.

From a modest booth with a backdrop depicting the front of its downtown LaSalle Street building, the Chicago Fed is appearing at the fair for the first time. Officials will showcase the redesigned $20 bill, explain how the federal government's new electronic direct deposit program will work, and discuss the agency's role in the nation's financial system.

"We want to make the Fed less of a mystery to the public, and there is no better place than the fair," said Suzanne Heffner, a Chicago Fed spokeswoman.

Robert Lapinski, assistant vice president of corporate communications, proposed the idea. "Many people don't know what the Fed is, let alone what it does," he said.

The Chicago Fed, which hopes to attract people to its location with a limited amount of shredded money stuffed into tightly packed plastic bags, will be there until Aug. 23. -Matt Andrejczak

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