Low Cost Fun 4 Kids at the Iowa State Fair - dsm4kids.com

Low Cost Fun 4 Kids at the Iowa State Fair

There is something for everyone at the Iowa State Fair! It truly is mind boggling when you start to look at all of the events and activities offered at the Fair.  Enjoy kid-friendly rides, exhibits, concerts, animals and more at this annual agricultural extravaganza. Here’s our guide on how to have low cost fun with your kids at the Iowa State Fair.

Visit Some Farm Animals

It’s just not a trip to the Iowa State Fair, without making your way through one of the many storied livestock buildings. A kid favorite, the barns are all open for viewing a variety of animals as their owners care for them and prepare them for competition. Check out the Avenue of Breeds, Cattle Corner, Pig Place, Horse Haven and Sheep Stop. You don’t want to miss, the Big Boar and Super Bull.

Learn more: Livestock Schedules
Cost: Free with fair admission.
When: Barns are open daily 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Where: Cattle Barn, Swine Barn, Sheep Barn, Horse Barn

Catch a Rising Star

When it comes to talent, some kids seem as though they were just born to sing, dance or perform. The Bill Riley Talent Search annually showcases the amazing talents of Iowa’s young people. Qualifying shows are held across the state throughout the year and winners advance to the State Fair competition. Check out the daily Talent Show so you can say you saw them before they were a star.

Learn more: Bill Riley Talent Search
Cost: Free to watch with fair admission.
When: Bill Riley Talent Shows take place daily at 12:00 noon with the finals at 1:30 pm on Sunday, August 21, 2016.
Where: Anne & Bill Riley Stage

Go Down the Slide

The GIANT Slide that is! An Iowa State Fair tradition, grab your gunny sack and climb your way to the top of the 45 foot-high, 150 foot-long slide for a thrilling ride to the bottom. Very young kids can ride with parents.

Cost: $2.50 per ride.
When: The Giant Slide is open daily 9:00 am to 12:00 midnight.
Where: Just off of Walnut Square.

Welcome Baby Pigs into the World

This little piggy went to the market, this little piggy went to the Iowa State Fair…the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center is a must-do attraction for most little (and big) visitors. This agricultural education exhibit features live births of various species including calves, piglets, kids (goats), and lambs. Kids and parents alike will go hog-wild when they see the litter of pink piglets born just days before, or (if you’re lucky) at the Fair.

Learn more: Fairgrounds Map
Cost: Free with fair admission
When: The building is open 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Where: East of the Midway on 33rd Street.

Spend Some Time on the Farm

Over at Little Hands on the Farm, kids can see first-hand how crops are grown, learn how food is produced and even milk a cow. Children ages 2 to 10 become farmers at this free, hands-on exhibit. Children obtain a gathering basket and proceed along a path that includes a garden, grain bin, apple orchard, chicken coop, tractor shed, sheep barn and dairy barn. The last tour leaves the Start Barn at 7:30 pm.

Learn more: Little Hands on the Farm Map
Cost: Free with fair admission.
When: The exhibit is open Daily 9:00 am to 7:30 pm.
Where: Kids Zone

Discover Your Inner Artiste

Kids can make and take many arts and crafts projects at the Iowa State Fair. A couple of our favorites are Art Attack and Spin Art. Art Attack is located in the Cultural Center courtyard and they have art projects each day from 1:00 to 5:00 pm for kids to do and learn about various art mediums. Kids can also create spin art at the Altoona Lion’s Club booth.

Learn more: Fair Schedule
Cost: Art Attack is free with fair admission.  Spin Art is $2.00 per art piece.
When: Art Attack is daily 1:00 to 5:00 pm.  Spin Art is daily 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Where: Art Attack is located in the Cultural Center.  Spin Art is located in a booth outside of the Pavillion.

Get in the Zone

A special area packed with food, rides and entertainment, the Kids Zone is geared towards young Fairgoers. Everything is built for their enjoyment. Little Hands on the Farm, Hedrick’s Educational Petting Zoo, inflatables, family shows and more are all located in this area.

Learn more: Fairgrounds Map
Cost: Free with fair admission.
When: Daily 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Where: Kids Zone

Join the Blue Ribbon Kids Club

Blue Ribbon Kids, the Iowa State Fair’s special club for ages 10 and under, allows children to experience the Fair from a unique perspective. Each weekday during the Fair, kids’ club members can participate in seven FREE fun-filled activities. All events start at 10:00 am at the Fun Forest Stage located east of the Agriculture Building and will last 30-45 minutes. Children can sign up at any Kids’ Club event or download the Blue Ribbon Kids membership form, fill it out and bring it to the event.

Learn more: Kid Friendly Activities
Cost: Free with fair admission.
When: Weekdays 10:00 to 10:45 am.
Where: Fun Forest Stage.

Get Competitive

Each year, Fairgoers prepare more than 65,000 entries to compete at the Iowa State Fair testing their talent, creativity and sheer zaniness. You’re sure to find at least one Fair Contest worth watching or you may even want to enter!  Babies can complete in the Decorated Diaper Contest and Diaper Derby, kids can tell jokes in the Joke Telling Contest and Mom can even get in on the fun with the Mother-Daughter Look-Alike Contest.

Learn more: Fair Time Contests
Cost: Free with fair admission.
When: Daily with contest at various times.
Where: Multiple locations.

Check out all of the Exhibits

There are many Exhibit Buildings throughout the Fairgrounds. You will see vendors, exhibitors in various categories, and displays including: quilts, jams, produce, farm equipment and machinery, agricultural vendors, energy efficiency, fine arts, and more. Explore a bit and you’ll discover your own family favorites. Many vendors give out samples or handouts (tattoos, coloring books, fans) for children.

Learn more: Fairgrounds Map
Cost: Free with fair admission.
When: Daily 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Where: Multiple locations.

Enjoy a few of Iowa’s Outdoor Activities

For many of us, the annual pilgrimage to the Iowa State Fair serves as a final salute to summer. So, if there are a few adventures you’ve missed this season trek over to the DNR Building and Courtyard and take advantage of the free activities going on there daily. You can check out the fish aquariums and archery range, plus attend loads of educational presentations that will inspire kids to keep going outside to play until summer rolls around again next year.

Learn more: Fair Schedule
Cost: Free with fair admission.
When: Daily 9:00 am to 9:00 pm with presentations at various dates and times.
Where: DNR Building and Courtyard

Take in a Free Concert or Performance

Chances are if you’ve got minis tagging along you won’t be forking over the cash to take them to a late night concert at the Grandstand (Did we just say 8:00 pm is late?). But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy rockin’ out to a live show at the fair.

Learn more: Free Entertainment
Cost: Free with fair admission.
When: Daily with concerts in the evenings at various times.
Where: Mid-American Energy Stage, Anne and Bill riley Stage, Bud Light Stage, Susan Knapp Amphitheater


What tips do you have for enjoying the Iowa State Fair with kiddos and on a budget?

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