Food on a stick, amusement rides, live music, and so much more! Some would say the Iowa State Fair is the best time of the year, and who are we to argue? For those of you who haven’t gotten the Iowa State Fair experience down to a science, we’re here to help. Read the following insider tips to make sure you make the most of your trip to the fair!

Tip #1

Browse the Iowa State Fair website and make a list of your must-have meals. Then, download the Iowa State Fair Food Finder app so you can easily locate them while you’re on the grounds. The app also hosts vendor menus, a complete calendar of events, and nutritional values. In some situations, ignorance is bliss…nutritional values at the Iowa State Fair might qualify as one of those situations.

Tip #2 

If you need a cab, Uber, or Lyft, head to Gate #8. It’s the only fairground pickup location.

Tip #3

There are fireworks after every Grandstand show. If you’re not inside the Grandstand then we think the next best firework viewing spots are in the parking lot by the Midway or on Grand Avenue by the Administration Building.

Tip #4

Make sure to know the weekly admission specials when planning your trip to the fair.

  • Monday-Thursdays: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. admission is $9 for adults and $5 for children.

  • Extreme Sunday: On the last day of the fair admission is $9 for adults, $5 for children, and $6 for adults who donate three cans of non-perishable food.

Tip #5 

There is a cash-only, round-trip DART shuttle that costs $2 for adults, $1 for children, and free for people older than 65, younger than 5, or with disabilities. Riders can also get 50% off if they show their advance admission ticket or use the MyDART app. The shuttle runs from 8:30 a.m. to midnight from these three FREE lots.

  • 7th and Center Street parking ramp: The bus picks up at the corner of 6th Avenue and Center Street.
  • Iowa State Capitol visitor lots: The bus picks up on East 12th Street, east of the Capitol building.
  • Southeast Polk High School, NE 80th Street and Highway 163: The bus picks up at the main doors of the high school.

Tip #6

The Iowa Cattlemen’s and Iowa Pork Producers’ tents are popular vendors that draw extra lengthy lines. If you attend the fair during peak hours and don’t care about sitting inside, there is a window on the back side of the tents where you can order it to go.

Tip #7

If you’re of age and the August heat is getting to you, then you might want to grab an extra cold beer! A variety of 16-ounce domestic beers are served at 27-degrees at Stan Kranovich’s stands.

Tip #8

If you’re torn between taps at the Iowa Craft Beer tent then ask for a sample to ensure you order a brew you’ll enjoy!

Tip #9

Bathrooms, it’s not the most glamorous topic, but if you need to pick between waiting in line in A/C or waiting in line in the heat, we’re guessing the A/C is going to be the winner. There are several buildings with bathrooms and A/C, we recommend using the Walnut Center Crafts Building and the Varied Industry Building if you’re near!

Tip #10

There are a wide variety of contests that you’ll want to check out. For example, the mohawk contest, fiddler’s competition, cow chip throwing, llama limbo, and mutton bustin’. If you’re wondering what mutton bustin’ is, it’s essentially bull-riding, but with kids under the age of 8 and on sheep.

Tip #11

For free admission, free parking and a free t-shirt, volunteer to work the fair!