Iowa State Fair
Des Moines IA 50317
- Mon: 7am-1am
- Tue: 7am-1am
- Wed: 7am-1am
- Thu: 7am-1am
- Fri: 7am-1am
- Sat: 7am-1am
- Sun: 7am-9pm
The Iowa State Fair showcases the state's agricultural heritage along with a lively midway and top-notch musical acts during its 11-day August run on Des Moines' east side. A walk through the livestock barns offers an up-close look at the thousands of animals competing for prizes and ribbons. Other contests provide displays of everything from garden produce to quilts to an ugly cake contest. Visitors can get in on the action through competitions that include husband calling, grape stomping and the chance to toss a somewhat-fresh cow chip. Of course, there's plenty of food, with just about anything you can imagine fried and on a stick.
Parking and public transportation at the Iowa State Fair
While parking is available on the fairgrounds, locals know they can also seek out a space in the yards of residents near the site. The metro's transit authority also offers bus shuttles to the grounds from certain parking lots and ramps around the city.
Where to stay at the Iowa State Fair
Central Iowa hotels fill up fast during the fair, with many attendees making reservations a year in advance. Camping is permitted on one section of the grounds, but competition is fierce for the first-come-first-served spaces as many Iowa families make it a tradition to camp out for the duration of the fair.
When to go at the Iowa State Fair
The fair is less congested during daytime hours Monday through Friday. For the best people watching, hit the fairgrounds on the weekends.
Admission to the Iowa State Fair
Tickets are available at the gate, but you can save some cash by purchasing passes at Des Moines-area businesses in the weeks leading up to the event. Discounted gate admission is also offered during certain times at the fair.
Must see at the Iowa State Fair
Get a peek at the unique and rare animals hanging out in the Avenue of Breeds. Don't miss the massive butter sculptures, which offer a new tableau every year in addition to the traditional butter cow display.
Other places to visit at the Iowa State Fair
Take a tour of the nearby Iowa State Capitol and the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Catch an Iowa Cubs game at Principal Park.
The first Friday night of every fair is known in Des Moines as East Side Night. Locals who grew up in the neighborhoods around the fairgrounds meet up for informal-yet-massive class reunions.
Author's bio: Melanie Lageschulte is a freelance writer and editor. She is an Iowa native and has lived in Des Moines for 15 years.