7 things to see and do at the 2019 Iowa State Fair
Fair goers fly over the midway at the Iowa State Fair
The Iowa State Fair begins its 11-day run in Des Moines on Thursday, and from gazing upon the rich yellow butter cow to filling your stomach with all things deep-fried, there is no shortage of things to do, see and eat.
Here's our list of "must-sees" at this year's fair, including new events and activities to check out. Whether you like thrills, music, or just pigging out, there should be something on this list just for you.
Visit this year's butter cow on Sesame Street
If you're new to the fair, you have to see the butter cow. If you're not new to the fair, you still have to see the butter cow. It's tradition.
The first butter cow was sculpted in 1911 and has become one of the most popular state fair attractions ever since.
Every year, a companion sculpture keeps the butter cow company. This year, characters from the long-running children's show Sesame Street will accompany the cow. The sculpture was chosen to acknowledge Sesame Street's 50th anniversary.
Your guide: Food, concerts and fun at the Iowa State Fair
Join the fun at Fair After Dark
Sorry kiddos, this one is for those over 21. Fair After Dark returns for its second year at the fair with two special events.
The behind-the-scenes event series will offer exclusive fair sights, sounds, and tastes.
Fairgoers can attend "Hungry Games", which the fair calls "a foodapalooza of friendly competition." It includes a grown up cupcake wars, an ugliest cake competition, "Chopped" gone fair style and various samples of Iowa beef, pork, dairy, eggs, turkey, and of course, corn.
The other Fair After Dark event is "Crafts and Crafts" where participants can create wood art, bracelets, photography and other arts and crafts all while enjoying new craft beers and ciders from Iowa Craft Beer.
Get to know the Iowa agriculture industry and meet a goat
There are plenty of opportunities to learn about farming at the fair. Fairgoers can take dairy tours, see live animal demonstrations from 4-H, or take part in the fan-favorite goat yoga. If you're interested in some one-on-one time with a goat while finding your inner peace, tickets can purchased at the state fair's website.
Children try to hold onto a sheep's back for time in the mutton busting contest at the Iowa State Fair Des Moines Register
Sea lions and alligators in Iowa? Only at the State Fair
The animal-friendly events don't stop at goat yoga. Families will love the Sea Lion Splash west of the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center. Watch sea lions shoot hoops, dance, and more. Or check out the Wool Riders Only Mutton Bustin' where kids aged 3-6 and weighing under 60 pounds can test out their rodeo skills by attempting to ride a sheep for a full six seconds.The young riders can place and get a chance to showcase their skills in the finals.
Want something more exciting than sea lions and sheep? Head over to the fair's Kids' Zone where you can watch someone take on an alligator. The interactive program also educates the crowd on the large reptiles.
Ride a roller coaster, bump some cars, get lost in a fun house
There are various thrills at the state fair ... literally. Visit Thrill Ville, Thrill Town, and Thrill Zone for all of your thrill needs. All together, the fair offers over 50 rides, games, and activities within the thrill areas.
Thrill Ville, located between the Grandstand and Ye Old Mill, features some of the newest and fastest amusement park rides and is the largest of the three.
Thrill Town, located north of the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center Lawn, has kid-friendly rides and fun for younger fairgoers. The area features stroller parking.
Thrill Zone, located north of Gate 11, has its own ensemble of heart-stopping rides and provides another area at the fair to hop on an amusement ride in between petting a cow and eating a corndog. (Please wash your hands somewhere between those activities too.)
The Register's Brian Taylor Carlson breaks down all of this year's new fair foods and tells you which ones to try! Des Moines Register
Try one of the many new food items this year
Speaking of food, this year's fair offers 57 new dishes to try on top of all the classic fair foods you have come to know and love.
From apple nachos and deep-fried deviled eggs to jalapeno popper pizza and cookies and cream wonder bars, there is a lot to choose from.
Visitors can also download the Iowa State Fair Food Finder App on their phone so they don't miss a chance to snack.
Want to see the full new food list? The Des Moines Register has you covered.
See an American Idol, dance in the Purple Rain, and more, all for free
The fair attracts huge musical acts each year at the Grandstand. This year's line up features The Chainsmokers, Slipknot, Zac Brown Band, Toby Keith, Dan + Shay, Luke Bryan, Foreigner, and others for ranging ticket prices.
But there are quality free performances throughout the week as well. Fairgoers can see the 21-year-old winner of season 16 of American Idol Maddie Poppe. The Clarksville native will perform at the Susan Knapp Amphitheater on Aug 8.
Other free performers include the Prince Tribute group, "The Purple Xperience", The Wild Feathers, The Nadas, Sweet Tea Trio, Steven Adler of Guns N' Roses, and more.
Gage Miskimen is a news reporter mostly covering West Des Moines, Waukee, and Clive for the Register. Did he miss your favorite Iowa State Fair activity? Reach him at email@example.com or 515-284-8234. Follow him on Twitter @gagemisky
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