Wallaces Farmer

Nothing compares to the Iowa State Fair

Slideshow: The Iowa State Fair is held annually for 11 days in August to celebrate the end of summer and to showcase the talent of Iowans.

Jennifer Carrico

August 18, 2023

9 Slides

For some, the best 11 days of summer are during the Iowa State Fair. The end-of-summer celebration includes exhibitors from across the state, with something for everyone to enjoy, including corndogs and hot beef sundaes, the fair queen contest, the Bill Riley Talent Show, the big slide and the grandstand shows.

Youth from across the state exhibit livestock during the 4-H and FFA shows. Breeders of livestock also travel to vie for top honors. State commodity groups hold events and feed thousands at their food stands.

The Iowa State Fair is one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the country, with more than a million people visiting each year.

It has been on the 450-acre spot in Des Moines since 1886, being held in Fairfield, Oskaloosa, Iowa City, Dubuque, Burlington, Clinton, Keokuk and Cedar Rapids for the 20 years prior. Most buildings were constructed before World War I and have had renovations, thanks to the money-raising efforts of the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation.

This fair was the inspiration for the novel State Fair by Iowan Phil Strong, which was also made into a Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical.

FFA photography

At this year’s Iowa State Fair, Wallaces Farmer sponsored the FFA photography contest, with 937 entries by 355 FFA members. Best of show and Reserve best of show were both exhibited by Samantha Wilbur of the South O’Brien FFA chapter.

Exhibitors placing first in the 13 categories include:

  • Black and white. Abigail Martin of Shenendoah

  • Color. Drew Vorhes of North Butler

  • Animals. Samantha Wilbur of South O’Brien

  • Still life. Beth Pickar of New Hampton

  • Iowa landscape. Isabelle Vance of Charles City

  • Landscape outside of Iowa. Samantha Wilbur of South O’Brien

  • Plants. Kelsey Laabs of Panorama

  • FFA. Jacey Sisson of Mid Prairie

  • SAE. Jacey Sisson of Mid Prairie

  • Ag photo essay. Janelle Clark of Albia

  • Contemporary, creative. Rebeka Lower of Northeast

  • Winter scene. Grant Spencer of Stanton

  • Theme class: My adviser. Nora Martin of Shenendoah.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer Carrico

Jennifer Carrico of Redfield, Iowa, runs a small cow-calf operation with her family. She is a former editor of Wallaces Farmer.

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