Summer wouldn't be complete without the Iowa State Fair. The most famous state fair in the country regularly draws more than one million visitors from around the world. If you're not already a veteran fair-goer, here are reasons why "Nothing Compares" to the Iowa State Fair.
1. The Rides!
When it comes to carnival rides, everyone is a kid. The fair midway includes more than 15 major rides, from classics like Tilt-A-Whirl and Scrambler to gravity-defying thrillers like Power Surge and Moonraker. For the small fry, Kiddieland has nearly 20 rides that young ones and their parents can enjoy.
2. A Concert Line-Up Including Nationally Known Acts
The fair always attracts top-line musical acts, and this year is no exception. Country megastars Carrie Underwood, REBA and Alabama head up a Grandstand schedule that includes classic rock groups Def Leppard, YES and Toto along with current chart-toppers The Fray and Meghan Trainor. Four other stages will have free entertainment from a mix of retro-rock, country and R&B acts.
3. Compete For Prizes And "Fame"
More than 45 competitions are scheduled in categories ranging from talent to quirky "skills." A fair queen will be crowned, and musicians will compete in singing and playing a variety of instruments. Can't sing? Enter the whistling or yodeling contests. Show off your husband- or hog-calling skills, or warm up your arm for rubber chicken- and cow chip-throwing. If you prefer to be a spectator, sit back and watch as others compare beards, mullets, mohawks and more.
4. Oh, That Food ...
All the rules go out the window when it comes to fair food. The Iowa State Fair is well-known for its variety of outrageous foods, and you can count on several new additions this year. Be sure to try the Ultimate Bacon Brisket Bomb, a bundle of smoked ground brisket, diced jalapeños, onions and pepper cheese wrapped in bacon and served with a sweet-spicy chili glaze. Follow it up with Golden Fried Peanut Butter and Jelly on a Stick. Bring your own Alka-Seltzer®.
5. Learn About Iowa's Thriving Livestock And Agriculture Industries
Stroll through the exhibits of jumbo veggies, award-winning plants and flowers, and livestock. Interactive displays allow you to milk a cow and let your kids try their hand at typical farm chores. And where else are you going to see a life-size cow carved out of butter?
6. Everyone Loves A Parade
The fair kicks off with the traditional parade beginning at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday, August 12. Approximately 200 floats, animals, vehicles and performers will follow the route down Grand Avenue in downtown Des Moines.
7. The Presidential Candidates
The fair is always a must-visit for presidential candidates looking to “press the flesh” with a broad cross-section of voters. Watch for the Des Moines Register’s State Fair Soapbox, where candidates will make appearances, give stump speeches and take questions. And watch for one notably coiffed candidate to introduce 1980s hair-metal band Def Leppard on Aug. 15
This year's fair takes place between Thursday, August 13 and Sunday, August 23. Fairgrounds are located just east of downtown Des Moines at E. 30th Street and E. University Avenue. Tickets are $11 for ages 12 and up and $5 for ages 6 to 11. Children 5 and under are admitted free.
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