Mostly Cloudy   61.0F  |  Forecast »

Iowa State Fair is Fun for Families

It's one of the most popular multi-day events featuring dizzying rides, cool concerts, quirky contests and a whole lot of 'on a stick' treats

When it comes to state fairs, the biggest, craziest and most popular has to be the one that takes place each year for 11 days in August in Des Moines. Yes: The Iowa State Fair, which began back in 1854, has become the stuff of legends (and even a Broadway musical). The sprawling 445-acre fairgrounds welcomes more than 1 million visitors each year from across the world to enjoy the sites, sounds – and tastes – that have made the Iowa State Fair a must-see event. This year, the fun spans Aug. 8-18.

Rides, animals and more

While just walking through the fairgrounds is an adventure, there are plenty of rides to keep your kids busy. Youngsters can try out kiddy versions of the bigger rides, like the Peter Paul Dragon, Dizzy Dragons and other attractions (moms and dads, feel free to ride alongside). For thrill rides, there are over 20 rides that twist, turn and propel – sometimes all at once. Take a spin on the fair's famed double Ferris wheel that looks more like three wheels attached and stretching into the air. Riders can go on the top or bottom wheel before being hoisted in their seats to dizzying heights. Rides require three to five tickets; various ticket packs are available for purchase, including unlimited ride passes for $30.

Along with rides, make sure to save some time to walk through the livestock areas. The fair boasts the world's largest livestock shows, including stalls showcasing prized sheep, cows, horses, goats and even dogs.

Farm animals aren't the only ones showing off for the crowds. There are around 45 competitions for individuals. These quirky contests are another big draw for fair goers. Where else can you see competitions pitting one yodeler against another? Other contests feature hog calling, mother-daughter look-alikes, monster arm wrestling, outhouse races, and the youth rooster crowing contests – and this is just a sampling.

Concerts

The fair includes four stages with free evening entertainment. You can jam with your kids to oldies pop, '80s rock, country music and even music sung a cappella. Over on the grandstand each night, find big-name musicians and events. For the country music fans in your family, check out the lineup, which includes Dierks Bentley, Toby Keith and Alan Jackson. Tweens and teens might be more interested in Victoria Justice of Nickelodeon's Victorious, singing Tuesday, Aug. 13, or Carly Rae Jepsen and The Wanted, performing Saturday, Aug. 17. Then again, the grandstand also features other acts like tractor pulls and demolition derbies.

Planning your stay

While there are nearby hotels to choose from, another option is to camp on-site. Non-registered camping fees start at $25 per day. Even though there are 160 acres for camping, sites do fill up quickly and are limited, so reserve yours as soon as possible.

Admission into the fair is $11 for adults (ages 12-plus) and $5 for children ages 6-11; children ages 5 and younger get in free. The fairgrounds are open daily 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Costs for food, rides and grandstand shows are additional.

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Explore the Grand Canyon in Arizona

Explore the Grand Canyon in Arizona

If you haven't seen the wonder that is the Grand Canyon, you owe it to yourself and your kids to go.

Family Structure: Its Importance and How to Create It

Family Structure: Its Importance and How to Create It

Feeling more like a frazzled family these days? Help fix the problem by creating some structure to help your kids feel secure.

Five Ways to Build Structure in Your Family

Five Ways to Build Structure in Your Family

From chore charts to meal plans, here are a few ways to keep families organized.

Play Food Lollipops Craft for Kids

Play Food Lollipops Craft for Kids

Everyone wants a sweet treat after dinner, even if it's for an imaginary meal! Get the tutorial on how to make these old-school treats reimagined as toys.

Staying Home Alone: How to Know When Your Child is Ready

Staying Home Alone: How to Know When Your Child is Ready

Whether you just want to run an errand or need to hit the gym for a break, it could be time to let your tween stay home alone. Here are a few ways to know your kid is prepared to stay alone.

Chocolate-Chip Pumpkin-Seed Granola Bars

Chocolate-Chip Pumpkin-Seed Granola Bars

Macomb County mom and restaurant-family vet Natalie Buscemi-Hindman keeps recipes simple and delicious – just like this one.

Sanity Saving Tips for Parents

Sanity Saving Tips for Parents

Avoid the chaos this school season with our ABCs of self-care. We've got 26 ways to enter a more Zen state.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement