Come one, come all to the fair! The Iowa State Fair is an event not to be missed! The event takes place over eleven days; there is so much to see that a daily visit to the fair will leave you wanting to go back over and over.
The 4–H exhibits are sure to please the family. The crazy rides at the carnival midway will be a big draw for the kids, and parents will love the grandstand musical extravaganzas. Watch a dog agility competition, vote for your favorite pumpkin, and learn how to milk a cow. See the machinery exhibits and sample the best hot dogs in the state.
You can spend a day just visiting the vendor booths alone! Handcrafted jewelry, homemade jams, alpaca goods, maple syrup, and more are available for purchase. Enjoy the open-air environment and explore the large barns. Take a break and see the queen and her court. Don’t forget to check out the butter cow!
This event is one of the largest and oldest agricultural and industrial expositions in the country. Set course for Des Moines and pack the RV for eleven days of fun. The weather is just right, the company is for keeping, and the memories are just waiting to be made at the Iowa State Fair.
Iowa State Fair tickets can be purchased in advance by ordering online. Tickets are required for daily admission to the fair and will cost between $5 and $15. If you plan to take in a grandstand performance, a separate ticket is required. Choose which artists you’d like to see and buy a grandstand ticket for that day. Prices vary, depending on which performer you choose.
Set the route for I-35, I-80, or I-235 depending on which direction you are traveling from for this adventure. Either way, you’ll see beautiful countryside coming from all points North, South, East, or West! The fairgrounds can’t be missed, but there will still be volunteers on hand advising visitors on where to enter.
Parking is available for a fee and once parked, you can hop on the Blue Line Parking Tram for free; it will take you right to the admissions gate. Alternatively, you can park at the DART State Fair Park and Ride lots (there are several) and then take the wheelchair accessible bus to the fairgrounds.
Taxis and ridesharing options are plentiful for those who prefer to arrive at the Iowa State Fair via public transportation. Check the fairground map for the exact pick-up and drop off locations.
Iowa State Fair onsite camping, which is very popular, offers a wide range of amenities. It’s enjoyed and coveted by so many that some people have been on a state fair camping waitlist for 20 years! Registered users, who have designated spots and come back year after year appreciate the certainty of accommodation. Non-registered campers fill out a form and wait years for a spot to open up. Once you do have a place to park your RV, you will have access to electricity and water and will revel in the beauty of the grounds.
Big rig access is easy to find in many locations around the Des Moines area. Amenities like 50 amp hookup, sewer, and pull-through sites are some of the practical features you may be looking for to enhance your trip. Bike trails, a pet-friendly atmosphere, pool access, and a lakefront view may be some of the things that will sway your decision as to where to camp.
Iowa State Fair organizers are aware of the needs of families and rent out both strollers and wagons for toting the kids. Wheelchairs and scooters can be reserved and rented too, but like the strollers and scooters, limited numbers are available. Hopping on and off the TRAM is a fun and convenient way to see the sights!
The daytime highs can be pretty hot in August; dress in summer clothing and be sure to include a light and airy hat for every member of the family to protect the face, neck, and ears. A sweater for the evening is an additional recommendation. Grassy terrain will call for suitable footwear depending on the weather. Pack the RV with attire for all possible weather occurrences.
Bring along an empty water bottle for refilling, but leave the cooler back at the RV as outside food and drink items are not permitted. You will want to bring sunscreen and sunglasses to protect against the bright rays. Don’t forget the camera; there will be many photo ops you won’t want to pass up. Make sure your backpack or purse is light in weight so as not to cause back or shoulder pain after a long day.
Over one million people walk through the gates of the Iowa State Fair over the course of the eleven days. Establish a meeting place and guidelines for you and your crew in case cell service is spotty. The Thrill Parks will require that you supervise your kids at all times. Make sure the family stays hydrated, too!
An event like a state fair is sure to lead to a healthy appetite. Use some of the homemade goods you purchase in your menu planning. Iowa maple syrup is ideal for breakfast as a topping on pancakes and fresh produce makes for a delicious salad. A camping prep list might include pots, kitchen utensils, and plates, while the RV list will comprise tasks like topping up the propane and water supplies.
If you still have an appetite after all of the fairground food, Des Moines will not disappoint when it comes to restaurants. American, Italian, and French are just a few of the nationalities represented. Try the best seafood in town or go for the taste of steak cooked to your liking, alongside a plate of home fries.
Be prepared to spend a day just visiting the vendor tents! Food on a stick is a favorite at the fair with everything from beef skewers to Rice Krispie squares prepared this way. Tacos, sausages, and chicken cooked fairground-style can be enjoyed along with a beer or ice cold lemonade. Patronize the craftspeople by purchasing handcrafted goods ranging from candles to barrels. Over 30 ATMs may be found throughout the grounds.
Whether you are entering the fairgrounds or attending a grandstand show, your belongings are subject to search. Guests are allowed to carry a backpack or a large purse, but for ease of admission at the entry gates, remember to check guidelines for a quick search. The fairground is a non-smoking venue, and in keeping with the family atmosphere, drinking to excess may result in removal from the fair.
The days will be hot at the Iowa State Fair. Evening temperatures may dip just enough for it to be very pleasant. It is not uncommon for the clouds to roll in and park themselves for a day or two since August is not typically a rainy month. Be prepared for all weather instances though, and pack the RV with rain boots just in case.
Certified service animals are permitted on the grounds. Have your buddy wear the recognizable ADA gear. If you have medication that needs to be kept cold, you can bring a small cooler. Expect for it to be checked for verification. If while at the fairgrounds you need medical assistance, visit the first aid station where qualified staff will be on hand.