Aug. 8 to Aug. 18: Iowa State Fair

Back for its 170th year, the Iowa State Fair returns to the Iowa State Fair Grounds in Des Moines from Aug. 8 to Aug. 18. The fair will be bigger than ever, with star-studded live music performances, thrilling attractions and over 200 food stands to indulge in (70 of which serve items on a stick!). 

Attracting more than a million people annually, the Iowa State Fair is the largest celebration in the state, showcasing the best of the state’s agriculture, industry, entertainment and culture. This summer festivity will take place daily from Thursday, Aug. 8, to Sunday, Aug. 18, from 8 a.m. to midnight.

This season, fair-goers can anticipate its staple food lineups, attractions and concerts, in addition to the return of its Sensory-Friendly Morning, taking place on Wednesday, Aug. 14, from 8 a.m. to noon. This unique experience will provide a relaxed environment designed for children and adults with autism or sensory processing disorders in mind. Special programming is planned with modifications, including reduced noise levels, lights and motion. Trained volunteers will be available in the field for any assistance, in addition to Calming Rooms for those looking for a sensory-friendly, private space to relax as needed. The morning will feature garden walks, baby animal visits, kid-friendly rides, arts and crafts, live performances and more. 

festival concert heart stock

As always, an assortment of star-studded live music performances will grace the Iowa State Fair Grand Stand, including concerts from Lauren Daigle (Aug. 8), Foreigner (Aug. 9), Jelly Roll (Aug. 10), Greta Van Fleet (Aug. 11), Brett Young (Aug. 12), Thomas Rhett (Aug. 13), Motley Crüe (Aug. 14), The Avett Brothers (Aug. 16), Ne-Yo (Aug. 17) and Kidz Bop (Aug. 18). In addition to these performances, comedians will also take the stage, including Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias on Aug. 15. Ticket prices vary, but start as low as $30 for these shows. A variety of free music performances will also take place daily. 

When fair-goers aren’t dancing and singing their hearts out, they can eat to their heart’s content with over 200 food stands available. In addition to its classic fare items like Barksdale’s State Fair Cookies (awaiting with buckets and cups of its fan-favorite chocolate chip cookies), funnel cake, cotton candy and a plethora of fried goods, the Iowa State Fair will host new options this year. Guests can expect the Iowa Twinkie, a smoked bacon-wrapped jalapeno stuffed with pulled pork, sweet corn, cream cheese and ranch seasoning, and the Grinder Ball, a meatball blend of bacon with mozzarella cheese wrapped in bacon and dipped in a warm marinara sauce. 


There is something for everyone to enjoy at the Attractions and Thrill Park, with a variety of rides for all ages and adventure levels, from Thrill Town for the littlest fair-goers to Thrill Zone for those seeking heart-thumping action. Thrill Zone offers an assortment of exhilarating, heart-stopping ventures with unforgettable rides, while Thrill Town offers vibrant, family-friendly escapades for kiddos. Fair favorites, like the Giant Slide and Ye Old Mill, will also be on-site. 

Tickets to the Iowa State Fair start at $16 per person (ages 12-plus) and $10 per child (11 and under). If purchased by Aug. 7, tickets are $11 and $7, respectively.

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