After a year without our beloved 11-day State Fair, we’re pretty sure everyone is ready to dive in and take in the fair and all of its greatness. Read on for what we believe everyone should hit up at the Iowa State Fair! 

Can you really go to the Iowa State Fair without eating something? Didn’t think so. There are so many options to choose from, it can often become overwhelming. We’re here to help, and you’re sure find your new fair favorite. Know what you want but don’t know where it is? Search for your favorites here. Use that to map out your plan of attack, find your essentials, and even look for your new favorites.  

Fair Food Essentials
Let’s be real – the food is one of the main reasons many people come to the fair. There are so many delicious, deep-fried delicacies, and there truly aren’t enough days to try them all. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites to get you started on your fair food journey. You can’t go to the fair without getting a Corn Dog, but be warned, you’ll have a handful of options when deciding what kind you want. A footlong, a Double Bacon Wrapped Corn Dog, a Pickle Dog, a Corn Brat, the options are endless. Be sure to grab some Cheese Curds as well, and also a bucket of cookies. You can get a cup, but why would you do that when you can get an entire bucket? Top it off with a Bauder’s Peppermint Bar and you’ll be set!  

Foods on a Stick
Here in Iowa, we like to be able to take our food anywhere, especially when exploring the fairgrounds. The Iowa State Fair has 69 different foods on a stick. Whether you want to stick to your yearly favorites such as a Corn Dog, Cotton Candy, or Pork Chop on a stick, or if you want to try something a bit more outrageous like Deep Fried Twinkies, Smoothie, or even Apple Pie. If you think it can’t be put on a stick, think again.  

New Fair Foods
Each year you can’t believe it, but the fair has managed to add MORE food. Hey, we’re not complaining. If you feel like venturing away from your usual Corn Dog or Turkey Leg, we recommend testing out one of the new fair foods. With 63 new foods this year alone, you’re guaranteed to find something you like. But, if you don’t want to look through the list, we suggest trying one of the top three 2021 best new foods. Peanut Butter and Fluff Cookie Dough, Chicken Egg Salad with Indian Fry Bread, or Island Noodles with Teriyaki Chicken? Yes please.  

As much as we love the food, the music at the fair is just as good. With a killer Grandstand line up, as well as a ton of acts on the free stage, you’re sure to be entertained. You can see big stars like Blake Shelton and The Beach Boys (featuring a special visit from John Stamos, have mercy!) or you can explore up-and-coming acts like Niko Moon or Blanco Brown who could be on the Grandstand themselves someday. You could say you saw them back when, that’s pretty cool. See the full list of entertainment here.  

When you think of the fair, you probably think of animals, right? Yeah, us too. Well, the Iowa State Fair doesn’t lack in the animal department. From cows to pigs to horses and more, your family can learn all about what it means to have animals in the state fair. Or, you can just admire their cuteness. Head to the Animal Learning Center and see all the baby animals. Chicks, piglets, and so much more. If you’re lucky, you can experience one of the animals giving birth (if you’re into that sort of thing). You can go to a show to see the animals in action or explore the stalls to see them up close. Don’t miss the big boar, as the winner in 2019 was a whopping 1,254 pounds. Wow!

In the sweltering heat of August, surrounded by thousands of people, a cold beverage is a necessity. The Iowa State Fair has SO many options, it can be hard to pick. If you’ve been to the fair, you know about the Iowa Craft Beer Tent. Exciting news for 2021, the Beer Tent is brand new and three times larger than it was in the past. You can find it on the west side of the fairgrounds, directly by the Jacobson Exhibition Center. You can also head to Steer ‘N’ Stein where the legendary 27-degree beer lives. They get this beer to be a chilly 27 degrees, making it the perfect choice for a day where you feel like you’re melting at the fairgrounds.

Giant Slide/Butter Cow 
The Iowa State Fair has two iconic attractions – the Giant Slide and the Butter Cow. It’s an extra special year for the Giant Slide, they are celebrating 50 years of that iconic green and yellow slide. To celebrate this large anniversary, they are creating the Giant Slide out of butter right next to the legendary Butter Cow! Visit this exciting display in the John Deere Agriculture Building all week. Don’t forget to take a ride down the actual slide on one of the mats and listen to the screams around you! 50 years of this iconic slide, and we can’t wait to take a ride.

Thrill Town/Thrill Ville/Thrill Zone 
If you’re looking for a bit of action, make your way over to one of the three different thrill areas. Take the little kiddos to Thrill Town, for a more child- friendly area with rides that are safe for the younger ages. Thrill Ville is a large area filled with dozens of rides and roller coasters, and perfect for enjoying a day of screams and twists and turns. It’s located by Ye Old Mill and the Grandstand and is nearly impossible to miss with the flashing lights and speedy rides. If you’re looking for some serious action, head over to the Thrill Zone. This features rides for those that are looking for something a bit more intense. You can tackle the slingshot, which means you are being thrown into the air. Prepare yourself for some crazy thrill.  

Not feeling like riding spinney rides with your kids? Take them to a different attraction within the fairgrounds. This year, the Iowa State Fair will have a Demolition Derby, Monster Trucks, and Tractor Pulls. Watching cars smash into each other? Sounds pretty fun to us. Don’t forget to stop at State Fair classics like the Giant Slide and Ye Old Mill. Kids should always learn about the classics, right?  

The Iowa State fair has tons of contests that anyone can join! If you feel like participating, find one that you think fits you and take a chance. Are you a twin? Take your sibling and see just how alike or different you are in the twin (or triplet) contest! Is it really Iowa without a Bags (or is it cornhole? You decide) Tournament? We didn’t think so. There’s also chess, checkers, bench press, a marvelous hat contest, and so much more. Don’t feel like entering any? Head out and cheer the competitors on to victory, the crowds are what make contests so much fun!

Iowa State Fair Helpful Tips:
To make your Iowa State Fair experience as smooth as possible, we found a few important things to remember as you make your way to the Fairgrounds.

• Tickets are sold at the gate for $14.00, or you can buy them online here.
• Fairground hours are from 8 a.m. to Midnight, and buildings close at 8 p.m. as well.
• Metal Detectors will be at every entrance, and on-site trams will not be running to keep everyone safe.
• Planning on driving to the fair? Find parking and other ride options here.
• Want to map out your adventure from the start? Find a map of the fairgrounds here.
• For top things to do, scheduling, and so much more, go here.
• For more information, head here.