One of the country's oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions, the Iowa State Fair is unveiling exciting new agricultural events this year. Fairgoers of all ages will find many new activities that challenge, entertain and educate both farmers and city folk.
"Nothing Compares" to the Iowa State Fair is the theme this year, as the 2011 version of the fair runs August 11 to 21 in Des Moines. Here's a summary of some of the "What's New" highlights that are related to agriculture.
The Butter Cow sculpture is marking 100 years at the Iowa State Fair and the fair is celebrating with butter-themed activities, merchandise, contests and entertainment. Across the fairgrounds the Butter Cow is being honored with 100 tribute cows, made of everything from sand to canned food.
New contests: Come see the latest addition to the Fair's long tradition of competition and agriculture! The Farmer's Challenge will have couples vying to prove their agrarian excellence in a variety of fun and challenging contests. The competition will include such events as the hay bale throw, hay bale shuffle, gate hanging, hay moving and the Saturday night hustle obstacle course.
While many of these events will test the farmers' strength and skills, the egg gathering contest is sure to provide laughs as competitors race to discover the hard-boiled egg in a basket of uncooked imposters.
The contest will be held Thursday, August 18 at 6 p.m. in the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion. Teams of one male and one female may compete by signing up between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. the day of the competition at the Pavilion.
There's also a young farmers challenge for competitors ages 15 to 21
Youthful farmers can also join the fun by entering teams of four in the Young Farmer's Challenge, for competitors ages 15-21. The contest will begin at 12:30 p.m. on August 18 in the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion. Registration takes place 10 a.m. to noon at the Pavilion.
Cash prizes and plaques will be awarded to the top three teams in both contests. Complete rules are available at iowastatefair.org.
Also new this year, Mutton Bustin' will provide youngsters a chance to try their hand at stock riding. Mutton Bustin' packs all the excitement of bull riding but on a much smaller scale. Dare devils ages 8 and under will have the chance to see how long they can stay on the back of a sheep. Kids will don protective gear and hold on tight to outlast other contestants and be named Mutton Bustin' Champion.
The contest will be held August 19 at 12:30, 3:30, and 6:30 p.m. with registration 60 to 90 minutes prior in the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion. Complete rules are available at iowastatefair.org.
New livestock shows: Two new breeds join the Iowa State Fair's impressive lineup of livestock and horse shows in 2011. The Dexter cattle show makes its debut at the State Fair August 18 at 1 p.m. in the Outdoor Arena. This unique show is one of only a handful in the country.
Appaloosa horses make a return to the fair this year. The Appaloosa horse shows will be August 20 at 8 p.m. and August 21 at 9 a.m. in the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center. Tickets for evening horse shows are $5 for adults ages 12 and older and $2 for children ages 6 to 11. Daytime horse shows are free. Horse show tickets go on sale at the Jacobson Exhibition Center two to three hours before the start of the show.
Excellent entertainment: Live entertainment will thrill audiences from the Iowa State Fair's grandstand and also at the free stages each night.
Grandstand tickets are still available for Ronnie Dunn with special guest Steel Magnolia, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Doobie Brothers, and Sugarland and Sara Bareilles. Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, online at Ticketmaster.com, and by phone at 1-800-745-3000.
The fair's free stages will also offer nightly shows free with gate admission. Notable free stage acts include The Band Perry, Jason Michael Carroll, Lee Brice, and Allstar Weekend. View the complete entertainment lineup at iowastatefair.org.
Discounted gate admission tickets are on sale through August 10 while supplies last at participating Hy-Vee, Hy-Vee Drugstores, Dahl's Food, Fareway stores and the State Fair Ticket Office, located on the Fairgrounds. Or purchase your tickets online at iowastatefair.org and print them at home, fee free. "Nothing Compares" to the Iowa State Fair, set August 11-21.
Brus is an intern in the marketing department at the Iowa State Fair.
For more information: For more information on the Iowa State Fair, including the complete daily program, livestock schedules, and premium books, visit the Fair's website at www.iowastatefair.org.