Former Iowa Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Agriculture (and yearly fair-goer) Patty Judge here. As you know, we’re less than a week away from the exciting two weeks of the Iowa State Fair. While that’s not quite enough time to do all there is to enjoy at the fair, you should be able to check a few boxes on a list I’ve created for you. As a lifelong Iowa State Fair goer, I take my job of showing our fair to all my friends from near and far very seriously. So, I have compiled a quick guide to get you started on your Iowa State Fair adventure!
First of all – fair food! The fair provides many excellent choices, and a corn dog first thing is a great way to kick things off. They are pretty good and you will have fulfilled your obligation to the Mighty Dog. Move on to cheese curds (my personal favorite), hot chocolate chip cookies, lemonade shake ups, hot beef sundaes, pork chops on a stick, and mini donuts (also a favorite). I have many more suggestions – turkey legs, roast lamb sandwiches, apple slices with hot caramel, wonder bars, grinders and gizmos are just a handful.
Check out the iconic Butter Cow in the Ag building. Now that you have paid homage to it, take a look at the veggies and flowers on display in the building and visit the bee keepers booth upstairs. More to eat here too…. Free hard-boiled egg on a stick, delicious ice cream and strawberry short cake.
Cattle shows in the old livestock pavilion are almost always going on. I love watching them.
Stop to see the Budweiser Clydesdales. They are not always at the fair, but this year we are in luck. It’s a thrill to see these hitches prancing down Grand Avenue as they deliver Bud to the beer tents. Once, I got to scoop-the-loop on the hitch as they made their ceremonial deliveries!
Take a look at the Biggest Boar and the Biggest Bull – catch the contest if you can!
Walk through the Horse Barn to see more of beautiful horses on the way to the Jacobsen Building and watch a show.
Head over to the Varied Industries Building and walk through the aisles. Sign up for free things, collect samples and enjoy the air conditioning.
Cross the street to the Department of Natural Resources Building to look at fish, snakes and other critters native to Iowa.
Take a jaunt on Ye Olde Mill and a ride down the Giant Slide.
Stop in the Cultural Building and look at the beautiful displays. Maybe take an art class yourself. Inside you can view some of the best Iowa photography there is to see.
Visit the Old Barn on the Hill, A.K.A. Pioneer Hall, and watch great contests like Iowa’s Best Banjo Player, and the Husband Calling contest.
Take advantage of the constant free entertainment on the various stages or treat yourself to a ticketed event in the Grand Stand. Iowa band Slipknot is coming home to play the Fair this year.
Visit the Fair Museum and learn some fascinating history, like the Great Train Wreck, and the Best Baby contests.
Ride the sky glider, visit the midway, drink a beer, enjoy life.
I know I have left out some great events. I camp with my family in the campgrounds at the top of the hill. We NEVER run out of things to do! Stop and see me, the beer and soda are always cold.