From new foods, exhibits, shows and activities to traditional favorites the 2016 Iowa State Fair has something for everyone. Here are 11 of the best new attractions at this year’s Fair, August 11-21 in Des Moines. The theme is “Nothing Compares to my Iowa State Fair.”
1. Nothing compares to my State Fair
From family traditions and childhood memories to must-see exhibits and foods you just have to eat, everyone has their own unique Iowa State Fair story. This year we are celebrating those aspects that make the fair uniquely yours. Join us for a trip down memory lane and to also experience the new offerings. Stop by a selfie station during the fair, and share your Iowa State Fair experience with people near and far. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #MyIowaStateFair. Let’s celebrate what makes the Iowa State Fair uniquely special in 2016.
2. Remodeled milking parlor
Stop by the newly-renovated milking parlor, on the north side of the Cattle Barn, to get a glimpse into a day in the life of a dairy farmer. With updated equipment and additional milking stalls, you’re sure to get a front row view of the action. Cows will be milked daily at 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Also stop by the Boulevard of Dairy Breeds to see six main breeds of dairy cattle in Iowa with hands-on activities, baby calves, and the favorite “I Milked a Cow” display.
3. Hedrick's pig races
Fairgoers will squeal with delight as they watch baby pigs outfitted in racing silks compete for the grand prize. It will be snout to snout action and thrills with plenty of pig pun comedy at every race. Make your way to the Kids Zone near Little Hands on the Farm to watch sawdust fly and cheer on your favorite pig as they race for a cookie on a silver platter. Race times are 11 a.m., 2 and 5 p.m. daily with an extra show at 6:30 p.m. on weekends.
4. Opening day canned food drive
Enjoy $3 off the purchase of an admission ticket with donation of three cans of non-perishable food on August 11. Donations will be accepted at all gates from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will be donated to the Food Bank of Iowa. One in eight Iowans are food insecure; this is a great opportunity to enjoy the Iowa State Fair while helping Iowans in need.
5. Oman Family Youth Inn renovations
Built from 1939-42, renovations on the 74-year-old building began back in 2014, and we are proud to announce the work is finished. Hundreds of exhibitors call the Oman Family Youth Inn home during the fair, and thanks to generous contributions, they’ll enjoy air-conditioned accommodations with new restrooms and mattresses. The downstairs kitchen is updated and elevators added for accessibility. On the main level there is a new stage and auditorium with balcony seating. Come see all the improvements and enjoy the daily Olympic coverage by WHO TV 13.
Come watch the Olympics Iowa State Fair-style every day on the Grand Concourse at 4:30 p.m. Cheer on your favorite Fairlympic team as they compete in a chore-themed relay race. Each day, two teams of five meet up to go head-to-head for fair gold. Teams have to carry a hay bale, throw cow chips through a tire, pedal a kid’s tractor, be a human wheelbarrow, chomp a corndog and chug lemonade. The fastest time to complete the race will take home an Iowa State Fair Fairlympics medal and bragging rights.
7. Running with the Bull straw sculpture
Stop by Ruan Plaza to catch Brian Sobaski’s larger than life straw sculpture. Titled “Running with the Bull,” this oversized sculpture is described as a playful story of farm animals having a ball. All of your favorite farm animals featured are made out of straw. Stop by each day to see the sculpture as it takes over the landscape during the fair.
8. New foods
Indulge in 26 new foods from delectable desserts on-a-stick to new twists on old favorites. Try a savory selection like the Ultimate Bacon Brisket Grilled Cheese offered at the Rib Shack on the north side of Walnut Square; Pride of Iowa Wrap at G. Mig’s Wrap southeast of the Varied Industries Building; Loaded Taters on a Stick at The Grater Taters; and Not Your Mama’s Taco at the Iowa Turkey Federation, both west of the Anne and Bill Riley Stage. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Ice Cream Nachos at Benoit’s Nutty Bar & Root Beer Floats east of the Riley Stage. Apple Fritter Bites at Applishus are at several locations.
9. Discovery garden paved path
Visit the Discovery Garden outside the Agriculture Building to see the new permeable pathway through the garden. This new path not only provides easier access for Fairgoers, but is also eco-friendly. Made of layers of crushed regional stone and recycled glass, water is able to infiltrate the layers and return to the soil and groundwater below. With infiltration, groundwater is recharged and replenished with cool, clean water in a more natural way. Stop and talk to one of the Master Gardeners for information about pervious paving and enjoy the vast selection of plants throughout the garden.
10. The Ganry Show
The Gantry Show is a world-renown pedal powered, theatrical circus spectacle! Towering over the crowd, the 18-foot-high structure features multiple acts such as contortion, Chinese poles and trapeze while rolling and spinning down the Grand Concourse. This modern twist on the circus caravan features original music, costumes and world class talent. Catch them strolling the fairgrounds every day at 12:30, 2:30 & 6:30 p.m.
11. Fair text alerts
Rachel Brownlee is the marketing content and communications intern at the Iowa State Fair.