We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Review of the Iowa State Fair” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Iowa State Fairgrounds

Iowa State Fairgrounds
E. 30th St. and University Ave., Des Moines, IA 50319
Improve this listing
Ranked #1 of 29 Activities in Des Moines
Type: State Parks, Amusement
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: The internationally acclaimed Iowa State Fair is the single largest event in the state of Iowa and one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the country. Annually attracting more than a million people from all over the world, the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines is Iowa’s great celebration, a salute to the state’s best in agriculture, industry, entertainment and achievement. It is the true heartbeat of the Midwest, unequalled and unduplicated.The Iowa State Fair, the inspiration for the original novel “State Fair” by Iowan Phil Stong, three motion pictures and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway musical, is without a doubt the country’s most famous state fair. National media frequently rank the Fair as one of the top events in the country. In 2004, USA Weekend named the event the #2 choice for summer fun in America, topping New York City’s Times Square, Cedar Point Amusement Park Resort in Ohio and Disneyland in California. Midwest Living magazine named the Fair one of the “Top 30 Things Every Midwesterner Should Experience.” The Fair is also included in the New York Times best-selling travel book 1000 Places to See Before You Die and the subsequent travel book, 1,000 Places to See in the U.S.A. and Canada Before you Die. Join us August 7-17, 2014.
Iowa City, Iowa
Top Contributor
93 reviews 93 reviews
32 attraction reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
“Review of the Iowa State Fair”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 8, 2011

In full disclosure, I tried to avoid going to this event for a number of years for no other reason than personal preference. I changed my mind once I had a family with a toddler. We visited during the day and our visit mainly focused around more family friendly entertainment. There are many other attractions at the Iowa State Fair that we did not have a chance to visit with such a young child.
First off for those parents who have young children and worry about access to changing stations and things like that, please place your worries behind you. Numerous fully updated restrooms are available and nearly all are equipped with changing stations!
There are entire sections of the fair grounds dedicated to young children. There is a minature farm that demonstrates what it is like to be a farmer and how food gets to the dinner table.
There are live animal exhibits that are focused on young animals such as chicks, ducklings, young pigs, cows etc. My little girl loved looking at these little critters running around.
A good time was had by all and we thoroughly enjoyed our trip.

Visited August 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

316 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Cedar Falls, IA
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“The Iowa State Fair is a must see, maybe once a year!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 24, 2011

As long as you don't mind mingling with large crowds of friendly people, you have to visit the Iowa State Fair at least once in your life. There is plenty of Carnival, Americana, Agriculture's finest, and anything you want to eat on a stick! Just get your walking shoes on and experience one of the American Classic Fairs. If you leave hungry you must have forgot your wallet. If you can't find something that interests you, you must be really boring!

Visited August 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
56 reviews 56 reviews
41 attraction reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
58 helpful votes 58 helpful votes
“Classic state fair”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 22, 2011

I grew up with this fair - went almost every year for a time, then moved to Minnesota and had only been back once in the last 20 years or so, although we go to the Minnesota State Fair almost every year. The Iowa and Minnesota fairs are similar yet different - I get the idea that the MSF is more of an agricultural showcase to show the city folk how farming works (for example, one year they had an attraction where you could pay $25 or so to drive a Bobcat for 5 minutes- a farmer from Iowa was looking on and commented that if folks wanted to come to his farm he'd PAY them to drive his all day). The ISF, on the other had, seems to be the real deal - a farm-focused fair for farm-focused people. Of course there's still plenty to do for us folks who converted to city life as well. Definitely plenty to do - we got there around 9AM and left just before 9PM. Do note that if you go on the last day of the fair, as we did, that some things (like the livestock displays) will start breaking down around 5-6PM so you might not see as much as if you went another day.

My biggest complaint is the prices of the food vendors. WIth so much food there, it would be nice to sample some different things. I expect to pay high prices at a fair, but when they have $5 sno-cones and $3.50 glasses of Coke, it gets a bit expensive for a family of 4, especially on a hot day like yesterday. In essence it makes me stubborn and I buy as little as possible - they probably would have gotten more money out of me if the prices were lower. Instead we drank some pop out of the car cooler, and stopped by the Dairy Zone on University (near I-235) for malts on the way home - where the ice cream was excellent and much more reasonably priced.

Visited August 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Olympia, Washington
1 review
“It was A'maz'ing”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2011

So much to see, esp livestock barns. Delish Pork Chop on a Stick and yummy Iowa craft beer tent. Ride the gondola back at the end of evening. I love the green spaces and breathing space.

Visited August 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Fair was great! -Mid-Way was not”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2011

This was my first visit to the Iowa State Fair, and I loved it. The Fair is huge and I definitely wish I had more time to experience it. The many different attractions were very interesting. The only downfall is was the Mid-Way and their workers. My family and I were nearly harassed and lied to several times on prices. The overall safety of the rides was very questionable as the supporting braces were not on solid/level ground and a few of the rides had to be tightened after nearly ever rider. Next time I will be sure to skip the mid-way and enjoy more of the fair, and bring extra cash.

Visited August 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Iowa State Fairgrounds also viewed


Been to Iowa State Fairgrounds? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Iowa State Fairgrounds, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.