Travel Iowa invited my family to visit Jester Park as a part of the 99 Parks campaign and covered our expenses. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
May I just tell you much fun we had on our recent trip to Iowa? Iowa has so many different things to offer to travelers, it is totally worth to keep coming back for different tastes of Iowa. This recent trip of ours included a visit to the Iowa state fair 2019.
This is the biggest Fair we’ve ever seen, and it takes place in Des Moines, IA, in August.
FUN FACT: Did you know that Iowa State Fair goes on for TEN DAYS! The first Iowa State Fair was held in October of 1854 in Fairfield – 20 years before America’s great westward movement began. Back then, the Iowa State Fairgrounds included approximately 445 acres.
This year attendance was indeed record-breaking – 1,170,375 visited the Fair over ten days period.
We parked on the green lawn already filled with hundreds of cars and hitched a ride on one of golf carts right to the Fair entrance.
Looking back at the experience, I have to say – it would totally take more than one day to do everything. The list of events is overwhelming, and trying to cover it one day is an impossible task.
With that said, our first stop at the Fair was full of Fluff. Seriously!
Imagine two huge barns filled with cages of all kinds of bunnies. White bunnies, orange bunnies, black bunnies, and every bunny imaginable including those that look like plush toys. We explored rows and rows of bunnies with floppy ears and standing ears. I might’ve also tried to convince my sister to start a bunny farm. She said she would consider it.
We also spotted giant bunny winners – I’ve only seen them on pictures and even questioned if they were real. And sure enough, here they are – fury, floppy yeas and HUGE!
Iowa State Fairgrounds also hosts a large number of vendors with a variety of products – anything from necklaces and trinkets to mosaic fire pit tables and farming machinery. Each tent is unique and fun to browse.
Iowa State Fair Rides
The easiest way to see the Iowa State Fair in a glance is by taking a ride on a Glider. What a fun way to fly over the Fair and get a few notes of what’s where!
There are also three thrill areas with a variety of rides for kids of all ages.
Want to visit all three thrill rides, try all unique fair food, and go through the expo tents? You will most like have to take several days to cover it all.
And speaking of Iowa State Fair Food…
Iowa State fair 2019 takes an exciting approach to food offerings by hosting nearly 200 food stands. A comprehensive map on their website lists everything that can be found at the Fair website. There are healthy food choices, gluten-free options, and food under $4.
And speaking of the food on a stick, there were 80 food on the stick options at the 2019 Iowa State Fair.
Our favorites were Bacon ice cream, garlic cheese curds, apple egg roll. However, you can imagine, we only saw a tiny portion of Fair food options.
What to get serious about your Fair food? Check out their Comprehensive Food Finder that will tell you where to find different offerings
FUN FACT: If you unrolled all the toilet tissue stockpiled for the Fair, it would stretch 1,818 miles (That’s 5 trips to Chicago from Des Moines)
STEM Fun at the Fair
With our bellies full, we were ready to explore, and that is when we came across STEM BOOTHS.
Kids went from tent to tent building Lego towers, setting chain reactions involving marble and wooden tracks, and trying their hand in other STEM activities. My daughter also came across Iowa chapter of Million Women Mentors. It’s a national program providing one million mentors in STEM-related fields to get more females into STEM. Iowa has a great chapter that connects girls with female mentors.
FUN FACT: Many presidents visited Iowa State Fair over the years – Herbert Hoover and Dwight Eisenhower in 1954, Gerald Ford in 1975, Jimmy Carter in 1976 (as a candidate), George W. Bush in 2002, Barack Obama in 2007 (as a candidate) and in 2012 as President, Donald Trump in 2015 (as a candidate). And Ronald Reagan broadcasted from the Fair as sports director for WHO radio in the 1930s.
This Fair has it all – challenging mazes, Snacks Alive exhibit, a train exhibit. There is also Ye Olle Mill – the Fair’s oldest permanent amusement ride, it was first constructed in 1921. Located next to the Midway on Grand Avenue, its 1,500-foot-long canal offers riders the chance to relax on a smooth boat ride after a long day at the Fair.
We visited Iowa State Fair 2019 on the final day of its ten-day-long party. We were exhausted, and I can only imagine how tired were the vendors and volunteers. Even now writing about it, I have a hard time grasping how many things were taking place at the State Iowa Fair at the same time and how little of it we got to experience.