It’s a tradition for T and I to attend the Iowa State Fair at least one day each year! It’s our date day or weekend and something we look forward to sharing with each other!  We often do the same things at the fair…see the same things, and even eat the same foods.  We’re creatures of habit and honestly ok with that!

The Varied Industries Building, Pioneer Hall, and the Shoppers Mart underneath the Grandstand are always a must for us.  We also enjoy watching the FFA Parade of Champions and the Governor’s Charity Steer Show.  But, really…the Iowa State Fair is all about the food, right?!  So, what do we eat?  Well, it’s usually a lot of the classics, but I also try to taste one new item each year.  It’s usually new to me, but not necessarily the fair.  So, what did we eat this year?



Our first stop…literally we had been on the fairgrounds about 15 minutes was the Dairy Barn.  For the last three years, we’ve split a chocolate shake!  They are so delicious, rich and creamy!  This year, I think we could have each put away one on our own, but we resisted.

beef quarters

Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner!

Supper the first night we were on the grounds was from the Cattlemen Beef Quarters!  The Beef Quarters has been a staple at the Iowa State Fair for decades and with Iowa Cattlemen doing the sponsoring, cooking, etc. you know you are bound to get a good meal!  I had a bacon cheeseburger (DELISH) and french fries!  The helping of fries is so large that I couldn’t finish mine and neither did T, but they are so crispy and well-done!  He got the roast beef sandwich and raved about it!  One of the other things we enjoy about the Beef Quarters is having a place to sit down.  They have lots of tables to relax at and refills of pop are only 50 cents, so you can beat it!!

fair square

Fair Squares

Snack that night was a Fair Square (a new treat for me)!  As you may be able to tell from the picture, a Fair Square is rice crispy bar (on a stick of course). You can select from several flavors.  That day your choices were original, salted caramel, and peanut butter!  I opted for the original and it was probably the best rice crispy bar I’ve ever had!  Just the right balance of rice crisp cereal and marshmallow.  Just enough gooey and plenty big!

egg rolls

Chinese Food

Lunch the next day was the next meal we ate on grounds and due to the heat, I wasn’t too hungry, so I opted for something “lighter” and grabbed some egg rolls from Wok N’Roll Chinese Food near the Varied Industries Building.  They were crispy, fresh, and at 2 for $5, you couldn’t beat the price.  The best part about this stop though?  It was the 32oz drink for only $3!  On the fairgrounds, that’s a steal!!

monkey tail

Dipped In Chocolate

Next up on our fair adventure was the Governor’s Charity Steer Show!  It’s a long afternoon, but worth it.  I knew I would need a treat to make it through though, so I grabbed a Monkey Tail (also new to me) from Dipped in Chocolate.  YUM!  So refreshing and good!  They freeze an entire banana on a stick and right in front of you, they dip it in melted chocolate!  It hardens almost immediately and you get to enjoy this “ice pop” of sorts.  Next time, I’m adding nuts though!  This will definitely be a repeat for me!

pork loin

Pork Be Inspired

Our last meal at the fair was partly courtesy of the Iowa Pork Producers.  (This was another new stop for me!)  T won a gift certificate on Facebook, so part of our meal was paid for!  However…even if it hadn’t been, this is a FANTASTIC stop!  The line can get long, but they are efficient, you get a lot of quality food for your dollar, and they have lots of places to sit down!  For $8, we got the pork loin dinner, which was complete with pork loin sandwich, baked beans, apple sauce, and a bag of chips!  It was all so good and so much that I couldn’t finish all of mine, but I gave it a valiant effort!  A stop at the Pork Tent will not disappoint!

We didn’t eat anything too crazy, we didn’t try any new bizarre foods, but what we did eat was delicious!  Our overall conclusion is that we like places that support our Iowa farmers and have places to sit, so the Dairy Barn, Cattlemen Beef Quarters, and Iowa Pork Producers will always be first in our book!

I hope you enjoyed my food tour of the Iowa State Fair and I’d love to know what you eat at the fair or if you tried any new foods this year!

8 comments on “Food Tour of the Iowa State Fair”

  1. We always go for the bucket of warm chocolate chips cookies in the Varied Industries building. Mark and I are heading back this weekend, and I’m planning to try the “Not Your Mama’s Tacos”. They won this year’s award for Best new Fair Food, so I’m dying to try them!

    • We’ve done the bucket of cookies before too! They are delicious and they were actually on our list for after the concert, but we were too tired to stand in line! That taco does look delish!

  2. Dairy Barn milkshakes are always a must for me too! I can’t believe you’ve never been to the Pork Tent before! I love going up the hill to the Chop Shop and having a Pork Chop on a Stick. I do love their shredded bbq pork sandwiches at the Pork Tent though too.

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