"Nothing Compares" to the 2015 Iowa State Fair. From new foods to exciting attractions, the 2015 Fair is sure to offer something new and exciting for everyone. Below are 11 of the best new attractions at this year's fair, August 13 through 23 in Des Moines.
FIND A NEW PATH: Whether you're a lifelong fairgoer or a day-tripping tourist, adventure and excitement are waiting for you at the 2015 Iowa State Fair! Our fair experts are already hard at work scouting out the best spots and unearthing hidden gems to customize a tour that is perfect for you and your travel companions.
Whether you're a foodie, an avid animal lover, an entertainment junkie, or just someone looking for the nooks and crannies around the fairgrounds, you'll be able to leave knowing you saw the hottest spots around the grounds. Audio tours will be live starting August 13.
RUAN PLAZA: The first phase of Ruan Plaza, a pedestrian friendly plaza connecting Grand Avenue to the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center, will be complete for this year's fair. The plaza will feature a boulevard area with improved utilities and access for vendors and exhibitors. This beautification project will also include 20-foot-wide walkways to allow for easier pathways from one end of the fairgrounds to the other. Phases two and three will resume after the 2015 fair.
NEWLY REMODELED MIDAMERICAN ENERGY STAGE: The new MidAmerican Energy Stage, formerly known as Fairview Stage, will debut at this year's fair – complete with new restrooms and additional seating to enjoy a variety of entertainment. The larger stage will host some of our best free entertainment yet -- acts like 38 Special, Home Free, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and much more. Also, be sure to catch everyone's favorite acts that are back this year such as The Blue Band and Here Come the Mummies on our new and improved stage.
CULTURAL CENTER MURAL DESIGNED BY LOCAL ARTIST: Be sure to stop by the Patty and Jim Cownie Cultural Center this year and visit local Iowa artist Ben Schuh as he creates a one-of-a-kind mural in the atrium during the fair. The mural will feature both naturally-occurring and man-made points of interest in Iowa, such as wind turbines, the High Trestle Trail Bridge, 4-H exhibitors, farmsteads, and much more. Stop by to see the mural come to life during the 11 days of the fair.
NEW FOODS: New foods this year include Deep Fried Cherry Pie (sold on north side of Grand Avenue in front of the Grandstand) and Deep Fried Nacho Balls offered at Jalapeno Pete's next to the Midway. Or try the Donut Sundae located south of the Anne and Bill Riley Stage. Also Fair Squares, the official fair treat, will debut a new flavor in addition to the original and peanut butter variety. Find the Fair Square stand on the northwest corner of the Administration Building.
FAIRGROUNDS 5K: Runners and joggers will have the opportunity to experience a 5K race like no other. The ninth annual Fairgrounds 5K, which has traditionally been held in November, is during the fair this year and will take place on Saturday, August 22 at 7:30 a.m. The route will take you down the Grand Concourse, through the hills of the campgrounds, and along Rock Island. You'll see food vendors, campers, and livestock on your adventure across the fairgrounds. It's a perfect chance to get your exercise in while supporting the Blue Ribbon Foundation and their renovation efforts.
IT TAKES AN IOWAN: Stop by the John Deere Agriculture Building to experience "It Takes an Iowan," a new interactive exhibit focused on Iowans as leaders in the ongoing effort of providing food for the nation and the world. The exhibit will highlight the advancement of technology to better produce food, as well as education about agriculture around the world. Learn that Iowans are not only leaders in feeding the world, but also in education, technology, communication, legislation, and transportation.
SHEEP BARN 100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY: Visit the sheep barn this year to celebrate its 100th anniversary. From its unique terra cotta trim and east entrance murals to the floral arches and wonderful ram's head column capitals around the building, the barn is truly one of a kind. The barn holds 480 sheep pens, 840 cattle ties and a show ring with bleacher seating where you can enjoy livestock shows throughout the fair.
MONOPOLY IN BUTTER: Join us in the John Deere Agriculture Building this year as we celebrate Monopoly's 80 year anniversary. Sculpted in butter by the talented Sarah Pratt, the tribute to one of the world's most beloved family board games will be featured alongside the world famous Butter Cow throughout the 11 days of the fair. See your favorite Monopoly pieces come to life alongside Monopoly's iconic character, Rich Uncle Pennybags.
STOCK SHOW UNIVERSITY: Learn how to fit your cattle and get them show ready with Stock Show University, a free program hosted by Sullivan Supply. From learning the basics in the morning to hands on experience in the afternoon, this class will be sure to have you and your animal show ready in no time. Show off your newly developed skills that evening during the fitting contest when animals are judged and great prizes are offered.
TOP OF THE VINE: Stop by the new wine tent, Top of the Vine, for a glass of vino and some relaxation located next to Grandfather's Barn. Purchase wine by the flight, glass or bottle, and make sure to stop back daily to experience the rotating selection of Iowa wines. You can also grab a glass of Iowa craft beer, or Iowa soda as you enjoy nightly entertainment. Don't feel like walking up the hill? Hop on the tram that will drop you off right at the entrance of the tent.
Save money, buy your advance admission tickets now
Advance admission tickets for the Iowa State Fair are $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 6 to 11. Tickets are on sale at participating Hy-Vee, Hy-Vee Drug and Fareway stores and online through iowastatefair.org. The State Fair ticket office opens July 6. At the gate, tickets are $11 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-11. Children ages 5 and under will be admitted free every day of the fair. More information about the Iowa State Fair can be found online at iowastatefair.org.
Editor's note: Tom Scearce is a 2015 Iowa State Fair intern working in the fair's communications and marketing department.