Piglets on display at the fair's Livestock Show at the Iowa State Fair, one of the world's largest.

Family Vacations: Iowa State Fair

When it comes to state fairs, Iowa brings home the blue ribbon. It has more competitive events -- almost 900 -- than any other state fair in the nation. It seamlessly blends old favorites such as pie baking, quilt making, and prettiest pig contests with some unusual competitions that are great fun to see. The ugliest cake contest is a favorite for children. It's not judged on appearance only, however; the cake must be tasty as well. Other tests of skill include a yo-yo contest, a nail driving competition, a rubber chicken throwing contest, and a pigeon rolling race.

Each year Duffy Lion, an Iowa resident, crafts 550 pounds of locally produced butter into the form of a cow. This life-size sculpture has been a fair trademark for nearly 100 years.

You'll find rides and games on the fair's expansive midway, plus concerts featuring chart-topping performers, acres of farm equipment, one of the world's largest livestock shows, and agricultural displays of all types. The food ranges from fair favorites such as funnel cakes, corn dogs, and cotton candy to chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick, sweet potato fries, and fried ice cream.

Iowa State Fair

Address: East 30th St. and E. University Ave

Des Moines, IA

Phone: 515/262-3111, 800/545-FAIR

Hours of Operation: First - Second week in Aug., 8 a.m. - 1 a.m.

Admission: $10 adults; $4 kids

Visitors can enjoy their State Fair treats en route to another one of Iowa's famed spots: the Bridges of Madison County. Click on the next page to learn more about these scenic routes.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:
  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Iowa State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Iowa, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.