After leaving the Quad Cities area for the fast-paced lifestyle in Los Angeles, Folk-style musician Lissie discovered an Iowa farm was better for her soul than the fast lanes of Southern California.


Snag a deep fried dessert on a stick and soak up a night of free music, Iowans, because the Iowa State Fair returns Thursday to Des Moines' east side for 11 nights of greasy food and loud tunes. 

The fair boasts this year nearly 40 acts of free entertainment on five stages, offering fairgoers a no-cost taste of country, hip-hop, classic rock and more. 

Here's a quick look at the Register's can't-miss picks in this year's free entertainment lineup. 

Ashley McBryde

Skip the high-dollar Grandstand ticket because Ashley McBryde is the country act you need to see at the Iowa State Fair. The Arkansas native returns to Des Moines wielding her debut record, “Girl Going Nowhere,” an 11-song effort of no-nonsense country storytelling. Don’t believe me? Ask Miranda Lambert, who hand-picked McBryde to open for her at Wells Fargo Arena earlier this year.

See her: Aug. 13 at 8 p.m. in the Susan Knapp Amphitheater 


See a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member … for free? Hear Darryl “DMC” McDaniels bring to life the music “Rock Box,” “It’s Tricky” and the rest of your favorite takes from the world-renowned hip-hop group Run DMC. He released his latest studio music, the “Back From The Dead” EP, in 2017.

See him: Aug. 19 at 8 p.m. on the MidAmerican Energy stage 

More: UPDATED: We ranked every Iowa State Fair Grandstand lineup since 1970 from worst to best


Adopted Iowan Lissie brings her soulful voice and ethereal songwriting to life for one set only at this year’s fair. Blurring lines between indie pop, r&b and modern folk, Lissie plays the show in support of “Castles,” her fourth studio album that hit stores and streaming services in March. Get a taste of her new record by spinning the singles “Blood & Muscle” and “Best Days.”

See her: Aug. 12 at 8 p.m. on the Bud Light stage 

More: Country star Chris Stapleton returning to Iowa in 2019

Bob Dorr and the Iowa Music Review 

Iowa rock ‘n’ roll staple Bob Dorr returns to the Iowa State Fair for the first time since retiring his long-running touring group The Blue Band. For the two-hour show Dorr plans to bring to life tastes of blues, rock, Americana and country music alongside a rotating cast of Iowa’s finest musicians.

See 'em: Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. on the MidAmerican Energy stage 

More: Your guide to this summer's Iowa State Fair Grandstand concerts

Tegan Marie

Tegan Marie was barely a teenager when she began one of the youngest artists to sign a major label country deal — with Warner Music Nashville at age 13. A country pop star for generation Z, she pulls from both genres on her latest teenage anthems, “I Know How To Make A Boy Cry” and “Keep It Lit.” See her at the fair before she steals America’s heart.

See her: Aug. 14 at 8 p.m. in the Susan Knapp Amphitheater 


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