When: Thursday, August 8 - Sunday, August 18, 2019
Directions: East or West on E University Avenue, then follow
signs to the fairgrounds.
From its very humble beginnings in the 19th century, the Iowa State Fair later become the basis for a novel, a motion picture musical (State Fair) and, today, the event by which all other state fairs are measured.
The very first Iowa State Fair, which had a total budget of just $324, was held in Fairfield 1854. It proved too difficult for people to come to the fair from far off, and so the fair moved around to various parts of the state before settling permanently in 1878 in Des Moines.
Today, the Iowa State Fair is a highly-anticipated eleven day event held every year in late summer, attracting over a million people from within the state and across the country.
This year the fair runs from Thursday, August 8 through Sunday, August 18, 2019.
2019 Iowa State Fair concert lineup
And of course, what would a state fair be without the music concert lineup?
The Iowa State Fair has enjoyed great success by sticking to its agricultural roots while also attracting some of the country's most famous entertainers.
Major headliners at the 2018 Iowa State Fair
included Reba McEntire and Sugarland
This year, part of the 2018 concert lineup was announced as early as January, with tickets to all major events going on sale online. Meanwhile, keep it here for the full schedule when it is announced over the summer:
NOTE: Iowa State Fair concerts are usually an instant sell-out every year and tickets go FAST.
What else to see and do at the Fair
And wait, there's more!
One of the most entertaining parts of any state fair is the livestock, and in this the Iowa State Fair never disappoints!
Fair-goers can take in blue ribbon contests judging the finest cattle, horses and pigs, along with sheep shearing competitions, pie eating contests, wood chopping contests, and even arm wrestling.
Another mainstay of the Iowa State Fair is the life-size butter cow which has been featured at the Iowa State Fair every year since 1960, (while spawning imitators of the sculpted butter display at practically every other state fair since.)
Every year, more families make it a point to travel to Des Moines to take in the most quintessentially authentic American state fair. If you're one of them, remember to plan early ...and have fun!
DID YOU KNOW? Iowa State Fair fun facts
A star is born.
• How popular is the Iowa State Fair? The largest attendance in Fair history was set in 2017 with 1,130,071.
• Butter sculptures have been a part of the fair since 1911. It takes about 600 pounds of butter and 16 hours of crafting to complete the butter cow. Additional sculptures over the years have included depictions of Elvis Presley, Abe Lincoln, and Harry Potter.
• The record holders for most attended music concert was set in 1972 when Sonny and Cher attracted 26,200 fairgoers over two shows.
• After cancelling last minute in 1990, singer Ricky Van Shelton was replaced with a new kid, Garth Brooks, who returned to the Grandstand in 1991 and 1993 as a country music superstar.
• Over 70 foods are available on-a-stick at the fair. This includes veggie dogs, pork chops, fried pickles, hot bologna, deep fried candy bars, deep fried hot dogs, chocolate covered cheesecakes, pineapples, cornbrats, salads and hard-boiled eggs.
Chowing down at the Fair
Food, glorious food! It's a major attraction at the fair including (from top left) the world-famous life-size butter
sculpture exhibit, a tasty pork chop on a stick, old-fashioned caramel apples, and the ever-popular corn dog
(all images courtesy of the Iowa State Fair.)
State Fair.com - Check out the official site with information on
admission and ticket prices, food, concerts, entertainment, competition,
livestock and people watching, with directions, map and photos.
State Fair - Wikipedia - Get a complete history of the fair
including modern highlights and attractions, photos, and related resources.