Six Survival Tips for visiting the Iowa State Fair with Kids


Yes the Iowa State Fair is

hot, crowded and crazy

…but you can have a blast with your kids and thrive.

Here are Six Survival Tips every parent should know!


#1 Plan your visit just like you would for Disneyland!

Ok, so it’s not a perfect 100% comparison, however, most of the Disneyland trip tips you see floating around on Pinterest can also be applied to the Iowa State Fair.

Don’t wear yourself and your children out by spending all day criss-crossing the fair for this show or that contest. Choose a few family favorites for a MUST SEE List and enjoy everything else as you discover it. Don’t forget to sneak in a little learning.

Iowa State entertainment

We have no idea who these performers are, what the name of their act was or where they came from. We were simply enjoying the fair and they came peddling down the street. It was a very fun surprise and we were delighted by their performance!

Once again, I don’t know who this ice sculpture artist is. We just happen to stumble upon the crowd who was watching him work. My daughter was amazed!

That’s the fun part about the fair; there is a surprise around every corner!


#2 Don’t skip the old favorites!

Every year the fair offers new and exciting things but your children won’t necessarily remember these. Traditions are built upon repetition. Make time to revisit the classics and take advantage of those family favorites to create memories.Iowa State Fair Wooden Playground train

Yep, there is a great new playground area but the kids still love the old wooden train!


#3 Enter a contest! Participate!

It’s fun to be a part of state fair history! Every day there are contests and ways your children can be involved.


Iowa State Fair Win a Contest

Plan ahead before entering a contest. Find out what time registration starts.

Be prepared for the contest to take a long time. We waited for an hour before my kid’s age category was called up on stage. It was worth the 4th place ribbon!

And have fun! These contests aren’t meant to advance your child’s career.


#4 Eat cotton candy for lunch!

The fair is all about the food! Have a healthy fresh breakfast and enjoy snacking on all the unhealthy foods the rest of the day!

Join the Blue Ribbon Kids Club (10 and under)  to get a free coupon book. We have saved over $10 on food.


#5 Plan for a break!

The fair has done a great job at providing water features to cool off in and lots of shelters in the shade. Plan to take breaks as your kids need.

You just won’t be able to see the whole fair so don’t stress about it. Trust me on this, my type-A personality was very disappointed that we didn’t go up and down every isle of the Varied Industries building but my feet were so happy to rest while the kids played!

Iowa State Fair kids playing in water Pella Plaza



#6 Give a shout out to your friends!

The wonderful Iowa State Fair doesn’t run by itself. It takes thousands of volunteers and lots of financial support to make the fair a success!

Use this opportunity to teach your kids gratitude. Thinking about how everyone else is serving while you enjoy the fair will help ward off negative attitudes.

Iowa State Fair advertising

We found a promotional sign for our friend’s company! We love visiting the Children’s Garden and sure are thankful for their financial support!


With a little planning and prep, you can have an awesome day at the Iowa State Fair with your kids! We stayed for seven hours!!!

Iowa State Fair Selfie Sign


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