The Iowa State Fair is one of the biggest and oldest fairs in the United States. It’s also one of the best fairs, and it earns blue ribbons for fun year after year. There are rodeos and rock concerts, outhouse races and tractor pulls, and the midway, which takes up a number of acres, is jam packed with carnival rides and games for all ages. This fair is so big there are over a million exhibitors and for the eleven days of the fair, the camping area becomes the 12th largest city in the state.
The very first Iowa State Fair took place in Fairfield in 1854. For a few years it became a travelling fair and moved from town to town, until 1878 when it moved permanently to the city of Des Moines.
Currently, the fair takes up 400 acres of land. Yeah, you read that correctly, 400 acres. Sure 160 of that acreage is taken up by campgrounds but that still leaves 240 acres. That’s plenty of room to fit the 600 concessioners and exhibitors, 900 food department classes, one of the country’s largest livestock shows, a double Ferris wheel and a host of other fun things to do and see.
There are contests as well. Do you have the largest rabbit or the heaviest pigeon? If so you could win a prize. How fast can you shear a sheep or chop wood? If you think you’re faster than everyone else, you can enter those contests also. This fair has arm wrestling, piano playing, and butter sculpting, to name just a few.
There are five free stages where you can watch performances, and there are many free entertainment acts that travel around the fairgrounds each day. Many of these entertainers are Grammy-winning artists.
You can also take a step back in time the 1854 when the fair was first established. Located on the fairgrounds is Heritage Village, a little village that allows visitors to have a little taste of the sights and sounds of an era gone by.
So if you’re looking for some hometown cooking, great music, fun rides and games, and a whole bunch more, then the Iowa State Fair is the place to be.