The Iowa State Fair has drawn in hundreds of thousands of visitors year after year and is the single largest annual event in Iowa. The Iowa State Fair has been named the #2 choice for summer fun in America (in 2004 by USA Weekend) and made it into the New York Times best-selling travel book “1000 Places to See Before You Die,” which comes by no surprise to most native Iowans.
The 2011 Iowa State Fair will be held from August 11 – 21 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds located at East 30th and East University Avenue in Des Moines. I have attended the Fair for the past 20 + years, and there are a few things that I look forward to each year at the Fair:
- Free entertainment: This year the Iowa State Fair has more than $400,000 worth of FREE entertainment, which includes: The Nadas, Tonic Sol-fa, The Band Perry and even the Ying Yang Twins (I didn’t know that they still existed!).
- Food on-a-stick: While you might only have the stomach (and budget) to try a few of the items on-a-stick at the Iowa State Fair the new one’s you’ll see this year are: Chocolate Covered Fried Ice Cream on a Stick, Peanut Butter and Jelly on a Stick, Fried Cheesecake on a Stick and the most artery clogging of them all – Fried Butter on a Stick (is it conscience that it’s the 100th Anniversary of the Butter Cow?). Foodie side note: Keep in mind that there are a few healthy options at the Fair as well as a few options under $2.00 each!
- Contests: Each year the Iowa State Fair hosts dozens of unique contests, which are open to the public. A few of my personal favorites include: the Mullet Contest, the Twin Contest (I know a set of twins that have won), the Yo-Yo Contest, the Beard Growing Contest, the Ladies’ Husband Calling Contest and the Mr. Legs Contest. Make sure you check out the contest schedules for the day(s) that you attend the Fair so you can see some of these contests in action!
- Animals: While I’ve lived in the city for my entire life, there’s something strangely intriguing about going through all of the animals barns and looking at the prize-winning animals. And of course, it’s always mind-blowing to look at the “Big Boar” and other large animals. Tip: be mindful of where you step!
The Iowa State Fair offers a little bit of everything for everyone. Recently, I discovered a great resource on their website called “Plan Your Itinerary.” This resource helps you plan your day(s) at the Iowa State Fair, since there are soo many things to do and see. It’s simple, just visit the Daily Program to plan and organize your very own, personalized Fair itinerary. This feature is perfect for overly planned people like me or for people who want to make the most out of their fair experience!
Honestly…where else can you see a Mullet Contest, Outhouse Races, the Budweiser Clydesdale’s and eat more than 50 different foods on a stick? You’d be hard-pressed to find another venue that offers agriculture, food, entertainment, art and soo much more, all in one place! Make sure you visit the 2011 Iowa State Fair because truly, “Nothing Compares.”