Animals! Concerts! Thrill rides! Funnel cakes! Corn dogs! You know what that means!? It’s almost time for the Iowa State Fair! The very first Iowa State Fair was held in 1854 and it remains THE best state fair to this day. Last year well over one million people attended the Fair! This year, the fair will open on Thursday, August 8 and runs until Sunday, August 18, 2019.
Two pieces of advice when planning to spend the day at the Fair: (1) Wear good walking shoes, and (2) Never eat before you go.
Because there’s so much to do, we’ve created an Iowa State Fair Guide, where you can find even more great ideas for enjoying the Iowa State Fair with your family. And, if you’re in search of more summer events and activities you might also want to check out our Summer Fun Guide.
Here are five reasons why you won’t want to miss the Iowa State Fair this summer:
Reason #1: The Famous Fair Food
From fair favorites to whacky new creations, the Iowa State Fair is a place where anything goes. Deep fried, on a stick, with bacon on top, they’ve got it all. Plus, calories don’t count at the State Fair (we swear;).
Corn Dog: A plump, juicy hot dog on a stick, dipped in cornmeal batter and deep-fried. Savory, sweet and undeniably greasy, the corn dog is a State Fair staple.
Corn on the cob: Sweet, buttery, salty, plus it’s probably the only vegetable you’ll eat at the Fair.
Turkey leg: Don’t be scared to get a little messy with a turkey leg, it’s worth it to indulge in this smoky, salty perfection every year.
Pork Chop on a Stick: Can you even say you’ve been to the Iowa State Fair, if you didn’t have a seriously thick and succulent pork chop?
Lemonade: You’ll need something to wash all that food down with. Freshly squeezed and shaken, this refreshing drink should do the trick.
Cookies and Cream Wonder Bar: Find the Cookies and Cream Wonder Bar at J&L Soukup’s Wonder Bar stand. This is a new version of a traditional State Fair favorite. The hand-cut cookies and cream ice cream is dipped in chocolate, then rolled in crushed Oreo cookie pieces for a delicious treat.
Georgie’s Roast with the Most Wrap: Located at G Mig’s Wrap Stand, this new food is a cheddar tortilla wrap with tender beef pot roast, a white rice mixture containing Chorizo sausage crumbles, roasted green chilies, cheddar Jack cheese, candy corn salsa, crispy corn tortilla crumbles and a sour cream drizzle. On the side is a zest salsa verde sauce. Gluten free wraps are available at an additional cost.
The Chief: Find The Chief at The Rib Shack, a new creation of Navajo BBQ fried bread with slow-smoked beef brisket topped with cilantro lime slaw and a salsa cream drizzle. A slow-smoked pork option is also available.
Reason #2: The Thrill Rides
What’s a fair without a Midway full of rides? When you’re not deciding what food to try next, you’re probably wondering which ride will give you the biggest thrill. What kid (big or little) can contain themselves once they see the flashing lights, mesmerizing sounds and brilliant array of colorful rides?
Thrill Ville: Thrill Ville is located in the traditional “Midway” spot just east of the Grandstand. Buckle your seat belt for the newest, fastest and most thrilling amusement rides. This area focuses on the spectacular, jaw dropping and super-speed screams of the best of today’s rides.
Thrill Town: This spot in the Kids Zone area is for little Fairgoers and their families. Thrill Town features kid friendly rides in a fun, clean and convenient location without having to navigate the larger Thrill Park areas. Thrill Town is located east of Gate 10 and directly north of the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center Lawn.
Thrill Zone: Fairgoers seeking a bit of adventure and more unique experiences will find it in the Thrill Zone, which is located north of Gate 11 in the southwest corner of the Fairgrounds.
Outside of designated amusement park zones, there’s even more rides worth waiting in line for. Head over to the Giant Slide, a fair classic! The gondola-style Sky Gliders are a great way to see the fairgrounds without having to walk everywhere. And, the Ye Old Mill is a historical boat ride through a dark tunnel that you just can’t miss.
Reason #3: The Live Entertainment
Because what goes better with good food? Okay, maybe a good drink. But also, great entertainment. At every turn you’ll find free music, talented performers and new opportunities to see one-of-a-kind exhibits and learn something you never knew.
Indulge in the 2019 concert series at the Grandstand! Music genres ranging from nu metal to country to classic rock and more will take the Iowa State Fair Grandstand stage.
Yeah, you read it right – free. The State Fair hosts hundreds of shows and acts throughout its 11-day duration. A broad assortment of musicians and bands are just one of many types of shows and activities available. Live broadcasts, unique demonstrations and presentations, performances, contests and a wide array of activities for all ages can be found each day!
Reason #4: The Exhibits & Competitions
Not only are there so many stages showing off talented musicians and performers, there are also rodeos, free pig races, dog performances, and tractor pulls. In addition there are, husband calling contests, chess competitions, outhouse races, a spelling bee….there are literally competitions of all types!
Kids and adults can participate in a variety of competitions at the Iowa State Fair. From amateur talent shows to cooking and baking to fine art and livestock exhibits, if you’ve thought about showcasing your talent the Iowa State Fair is a great place to do it. Find out how to participate in a Fair Competition here.
If you’d rather just watch and be a spectator find the 2019 Fair Schedule here.
Reason #5: Farm Fun
The Iowa State Fair is filled with animals, award winning vegetables and lots of farm demonstrations. There’s no better place to have some down-home farm fun and bring Old McDonald to life for your family.
You can get up close and personal with all kinds of animals, young and old, at the Iowa State Fair. Some places to check out while you’re there:
- Horse Barn
- John & Emily Putney Family Cattle Barn
- Pigeon, Poultry and Rabbit Building
- Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center
- Pioneer Livestock Pavilion
- Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center
- Sheep Barn
- Swine Barn
Many of us don’t have close ties to agriculture anymore and the Iowa State Fair is a great way to get back to our roots. Some places that bring that heritage to life, include:
- Bruce L. Rastetter 4-H Exhibits Building
- FFA Display Building
- Gammon Barn
- John Deere Agriculture Building
- Little Hands on the Farm
- Pioneer Hall
- Vermeer Grandfather’s Barn
What are your family’s favorite reasons for visiting the Iowa State Fair? Share ’em with us in the comments below!