While 160 years of the Iowa State Fair has supplied several milestones, 2014 also brings many new family-friendly activities! From food to art and farming to education, the “Amazingly Amusing” Iowa State Fair has something new for everyone. This year’s fair is just a month away so mark your calendars and come explore August 7-17!
- The Ringmaster will Guide You: Travel around the fairgrounds to find the ringmaster equipped with curious facts about the Fair. Have you ever wondered what the fair was like 160 years ago? The truth may amuse and amaze you, but that is why “Nothing Compares” to the Iowa State Fair. Find out when Amelia Earhart saw her first airplane and what types of entertainment the fair had 100 years ago (hint: we crashed locomotives into each other for fun).
Fabulous New Foods: Regular food is great. Fair food is even better. Several new foods will be featured on the Fairgrounds August 7-17. This year’s new Food Contest finalists all had one thing in common: value. Each of these tasty treats is available for $3 or less. The winners include Three Buck Bowl, which is two crispy potato skins filled with scrambled eggs, salsa and shredded cheddar cheese; Funnel Cake Sticks in your choice of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavor topped with icing and powdered sugar; Smoked Brisket, Bacon Mac N Cheese with smoked brisket chunks, applewood smoked bacon and three cheese macaroni; Brownie Blitz, which is cream cheese brownie bites topped with whipped cream, coconut and chocolate syrup, and lastly, Caprese Salad On-a-stick, a mouth watering skewer of cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella cheese with balsamic vinaigrette. Other new sweet treats are Pineapple Inside Out Funnel Cake, Zombie Cones, Jumbo Marshmallow On-a-stick, Red Velvet Flurry, Chocolate Covered Cookies and Cream and Chocolate Covered Bacon Maple Nougat. Not one for a sweet tooth? Don’t worry, there’s something for everyone at the Fair! Try out our new Tater Dog On-a-stick, a deep-fried foot-long hotdog surrounded by Crazy Taters, or sink your teeth into Chicken Fried Bacon or Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cob. Plus, the newest addition to the Fair Square family, Fair-berry, a crisped rice cereal, strawberry puree and melted marshmallow treat On-a-stick, which is just $2 (and not deep-fat-fried).
- Cultural Center Renovations: The fully-renovated Patty and Jim Cownie Cultural Center is ready for the fair! It now features air conditioning, family restrooms and new exhibit space on the third floor. Stop by for a break from the heat and immerse yourself in the 75th Anniversary of the Photography Salon with a salute to famous photographer Ansel Adams.
- Hoover Presidential Museum Special Exhibit Preview: The name might be a mouth-full, but the Hoover Presidential Museum is bringing history to life with a replica of the Hoover Humanitarian Relief Ship. This ship brought essential food products to the people of Belgium during World War I. As Germany and England blockaded Belgium and their food supplies dwindled, not-yet-president, and Iowa native, Herbert Hoover negotiated a deal with both England and Germany to allow him to bring food to the noncombatants. The small-scale ship will cruise the grounds twice daily and will hand out free Hoover Biscuits at the exhibit in honor of this mission.
- Just Dance (It’ll be OK): With over $500,000 of free entertainment, there’s bound to be something new on the Fair stages. For the first time in fair history, we are welcoming a new kind of entertainment: the Fair-well to Summer Dance Party. This exciting show, featuring DJs, lights and some of today’s best music, will kick-off on August 14 at 7 p.m. at the Susan Knapp Amphitheater. Other first-timers to the fair include acts like The Swon Brothers, The Willis Clan, Winger, Dustin Lynch, Eric Paslay, Slaughter and The Romantics.
- “God Bless America” by Seward Johnson: Art will come to life as you take your picture with a 25-foot, 5,900 pound sculpture portraying Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.” Brought in pieces to the Fairgrounds, the sculpture towers over visitors near the entrance to Pella Plaza giving Fairgoers a larger-than-life glimpse at what the farmer and his wife might have looked like in real life.
- Farm with Us: The John Deere Agriculture Building is home to the new Farm with Us exhibit, a hands-on experience for all ages dedicated to agricultural education. Fairgoers can learn about how corn and soybeans grow and see what a bushel of each looks like. The exhibit also explores how corn and soybeans support Iowa’s swine commodity. Transport yourself to a local Iowa farm with help from a green screen and take home a complimentary family photo!
- The Budweiser Clydesdales: You’ve seen them in commercials, now see them in person! August 14-17, the Budweiser Clydesdales will be visible south of Gate 10 and will parade Rock Island Avenue at 2 p.m. Don’t miss out on your chance to see the massive Clydesdales up close!
- Hydroponics Display and Thank a Farmer Wall: Could hydroponics be the farming of the future? Visit the Animal Learning Center to witness the soil-less growing of plants. The system uses mineral nutrient water instead of soil to give life to anything green. While you’re there, stop by the ever popular aquaculture display and learn about fish farming. Stick around the Animal Learning Center and discover the new Thank a Farmer Wall. Give some gratitude and write a note to your favorite farmer and thank them for all they do. It takes a lot of effort to become the leading state in corn, soybean, pork and egg production, but Iowa’s farmers put in the hard work each and every day to stay on top.
- New Food Contests at the Elwell Family Food Center: The Iowa State Fair boasts the largest food department of any fair, and to top it off, 40 new contests were added this year. The contests include Kanzi’s Favorite Dessert, which will be judged by the Bonobo Kanzi himself via Skype from the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary. Other exciting new contests include Can You Curry That?, Black and White Panda Dessert, Bacon, Bacon, Bacon with Greyson, Iowa Sweet Corn Rules, Favorite Tractor Shaped Food and Best Templeton Rye Dessert. Make a stop in the Elwell Family Food Center to see all of the winning recipes, take a seminar, see the life-sized chocolate moose and maybe even try a sample or two.
New and old traditions alike are the reasons why “Nothing Compares” to the Iowa State Fair. The 2014 Iowa State Fair runs from August 7-17. The Fairgrounds are located at East 30th and East University Avenue, just 10 minutes east of downtown Des Moines. Discounted gate admission tickets are on sale now through our convenient print at home ticket option at iowastatefair.org. For more information, call 800.545.FAIR or visit iowastatefair.org.
- Sarah Loghry, Iowa State Fair