Your Iowa State Fair Guide to Food, Fun for Kids, & Iconic Attractions!

I have grown to LOVE and look forward to the Iowa State Fair each year, even though I am not a native Iowan (Shhh!). The state fair slogan is spot on: Nothing Compares! It’s true! The State Fair is a sight to see, and a day (or more!) to experience. From the delicious food to the iconic attractions you see year after year, it has something for everyone.

My lack of native Iowan blood is no competition for my strategic type A personality. When attending events like this I research, study the map, read articles and blogs, and I make a plan. Our first year at the fair we were overwhelmed in a major way.

As the years have gone on, we have gotten better at navigating the fair and knowing exactly what we want to do when we are there and how we will tackle it all.

The last time we attended the fair, my husband turned to me as we were leaving and said, “I feel like we OWNED the fair this year.” We both felt like we finally figured it out. With Iowa City being such a transient community, I think there is probably a solid number of folks who might feel overwhelmed by the thought of making the trek to Des Moines for this Iowa tradition. Have no fear, the infographics below will provide you with a solid starting point for iconic attractions you can see every year, food you can’t miss, and activities to take your kids to.

Have fun!

Iconic attractions at the Iowa State Fair

Fun things to do with kids at the Iowa State Fair

Best foods at the Iowa State Fair

Have a blast at the Iowa State Fair, and let us know what your favorite foods, activities, and attractions were!


Linda is a Michigan native who moved to Iowa City in 2011 and hasn’t left yet. She and her husband of twelve years, Jacob, have two spunky kids – a kindergartner and a third grader. Linda works full time at the University of Iowa as the Administrative Director for the Medical Scientist Training Program. Together, Linda and her family enjoy cheering for the Nebraska Cornhuskers (shhhh!), going on adventures both big and small, and playing board games (they have over 100 and will play with anyone they can talk into it). Linda is often told she has two volumes: on and off, and she will enthusiastically respond to any news you tell her. No matter the volume she uses, Linda is an “old soul” with a love for baking, embroidery, and old movies.


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