Each year, T and I play hooky at least one day in August. Ok, maybe it isn’t 100% hooky as we tell our bosses we are taking the day off. But, its a day away – just for us – and everyone else who attends the Iowa State Fair! We each attended the fair for several times as children. We’ve even managed to make it there a couple times as a couple, but it had been 2 years since the last time we were there. When we did, we had kids in tow, which completely changes the way you “view” a fair. So, we decided that each year from now on would be “date day” for us! We both enjoy fairs (both county & state) and have been to several, but as the theme of the Iowa State Fair suggests this year, “Nothing Compares”!
We used to park on the fair grounds themselves for $10, but by the recommendation from Amy Hild of Modern Rural Living we decided to start using the Dart system and park for MUCH cheaper. We use the Southeast Polk High School parking lot for a couple reasons, including that is easy to get to without a lot of traffic and I knew exactly where we were going. Park there and hop on the bus for a total of $2! Yes, that is for both of us. Typically a round trip to the state fairgrounds is $2 but if you purchase advance gate tickets you get 50% off! That is a savings of $8 right there and it is so easy. No waiting in line, no walking forever. We jump on the bus, took the ride into town (about 10 minutes) and are dropped off right at the gate. If we don’t use the Dart system, we take advantage of parking on someone’s lawn for a discounted amount!
What to See
With one day at the fair, you definitely can’t possibly see it all. There is so much spread out, but I’ve shared some of our favorite things along with making a few other recommendations!
Stop by and see the Big Bull, Big Boar, and the other oversized animals! It’s quite entertaining for everyone…including someone who was raised on a farm!
Visit the Varied Industries building! You’ll find everything from window and siding companies to mattress companies, vendors selling food, and colleges! There’s a booth for everyone!
Visit the Dairy Barn and have a delicious shake! This is a yearly tradition for us and we split one because they are so big!
We’re avid WHO-13 watchers and so we always love to stop at their booth outside the administration building and cast our kernel for whichever election is coming up! Plus, you might spot one or two of their reporters or meteorologists!
Go up the hill to Pioneer Hall and have a lemonade inside at Berdie’s Cafe! It’s the best lemonade on the grounds…sweet and tangy at the same time!
What to Eat
Well, truthfully I have entire post dedicated to that and you can find it HERE, but try new foods!
Here are a few final tips that I have for you:
Visit during the week if possible! There will still be lots of people, but it will be a lot better than Saturday and Sunday!
Expect lines! It doesn’t matter where you go on grounds, there will be a line, just be prepared and pack your patience for the day!
Plan ahead! Take a look at the schedule of events and free entertainment on the fairs website prior to your visit to see if there is anything that interests you, then make a plan of attack (to seeing the grounds) around those items! Make it strategic in your walking so you don’t end up walking back and forth 6 times (although T and I do this frequently!)
Have a great time! Whether you’re going to a grandstand show or just there to watch someone show cattle, you’re bound to make memories! I promise that I can give you at least one memory from each time I’ve visited!