Iowa State Fair – Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa State Fairgrounds – Des Moines, Iowa

The Iowa State Fair, held during the middle of August for eleven days, is America’s classic fair and is considered to be Iowa’s largest tourism event. It is the most important of the over 160 activities that are held in this area each year. The entire district, consisting of 400 acres, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Events such as auto racing, concerts, horse and dog shows, arts and crafts celebrations, trade shows, auctions and livestock judging take place during the year; some of them are also a part of the Iowa State Fair.  The Iowa State Fair is the home to one of the oldest and largest agricultural expositions in the United States.  Don’t miss the opportunity to see the wide variety of products and livestock included in this exposition.

This fair has inspired three movies, a musical, and a novel along with being the inspiration for the Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical.

More than 120 acts qualified to compete in this year’s Sprouts competition, hosted once again by Bill Riley, Jr.,  Farm Bureau Financial Services will award more than $15,000 in Sprout and Senior divisions combined.  Participants from all across the state are involved in this completion as winners of their local, regional completions and now are showing their talents to all the attendees of the State Fair!

The 10 acre Midway has rides and games for every age.  Ride the Ferris wheel and look out over the city of Des Moines, this takes you up near the clouds!  There is free entertainment on the stages throughout the fairgrounds for your enjoyment.  The acts vary from musical to magic, all free for you to sit back, relax and enjoy.  Top name Grandstand entertainment is provided every night.  Tickets are available in advance or in most cases can be purchased at the gate.

There are events, contests and programs at more than 20 different locations on the Fairgrounds as well as live broadcasts by local radio stations and TV stations allowing you to watch what is being shared with those that aren’t at the fairgrounds that day.

Are you hot?  Then go visit the air-conditioned Varied Industry Building and look at all the displays while cooling down!  The vendors and displays will be glad to spend some time telling you about their products and causes.  This huge facility offers a little of everything from wax hands to hot tubs and information about Rotary and the political parties.  A great way to spend a couple of hours at the fair is to visit the building!

There are over 600 exhibitors and concessionaires sharing their quality merchandise and tasty food at the Fair.  You can begin eating as you enter the gate and shop when you leave….yummy!

A little history: The Iowa State Fair was first held in Fairfield in 1854.  From 1855 – 1878 it traveled around from Fairfield, Muscatine, Oskaloosa, Iowa City, Dubuque, Burlington, Clinton, Keokuk and Cedar Rapids.  Finally, in 1879 the Fair moved to Des Moines where, in 1885,  land was purchased to provide the Fair a permanent home.  The first Fair held in the permanent location was in 1886.

Admission – some events have entry fees, there is an admissions charge. You can purchase your admission tickets prior to the Fair at locations thoughout the state or buy them at the gate.

Directions – at University Avenue and East 30th, Des Moines, Iowa. 50317

Hours – hours depend upon the event

Credit Cards – use of credit cards depend upon the event

Phone – (515) 262-3111 or (800) 545-FAIIR


  1. richard harris says:

    I want to vote NO on the idea of sculpting Michael Jackson in butter. How do I do that?

  2. Dolores Linder says:

    I have always enjoyed seeing the butter sculptoring exhibit at the fair. If Michael Jackson is on display I will be sure to avoid it. I don!t thi nk that a druggie pervert should be on dicplay no matter how famous he is.

  3. Norma Mercer says:

    I want to vote “No” to the butter sculpture of Michael Jackson. How do I do that?

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