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‘Nothing Compares’ to agricultural education at the Iowa State Fair

By Staff | Aug 9, 2017

A future farmer helps harvest crops on Little Hands on the Farm.

DES MOINES -Agricultural education is a highlight at the Iowa State Fair. From baby animals to food production and more, you will find plenty of exciting activities to learn more about Iowa’s important agriculture industry.

Blue Ribbon Kids’ Club

Just east of the John Deere Agricultural Building is the Fun Forest Stage, featuring Blue Ribbon Kids’ Club. Blue Ribbon Kids’ events are every weekday at 10 a.m. and new this year at 5 p.m. Activities include make and take crafts for kids based around day-specific themes such as the Iowa’s poultry industry, salute to Iowa’s farmers and “My Family’s Corn Farm.”

Baby animals

There are many new things this year in the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center just a short walk from Hy-Vee Fun Forest. Discover more about how farmers use different egg production systems to produce safe and wholesome food, as hens will take up residence to showcase a modern housing system. Be sure to also check out the new birthing videos explaining the basics on how some of Iowa’s cutest baby farm animals made their way into the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center. Want more family friendly fun? Check out the Christensen Farms Stage featuring Ag Craft Hour, Way We Live Award presentations, daily butter sculpting, “Thank a Farmer” and many other contests.

Returning to the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center will be hatching baby chicks, ducklings and baby ostriches. Fairgoers can also stop in and see Thank A Farmer Magic Show, a fun, energetic and educational show that focuses on the importance and impact farming and agriculture have on our daily lives. Sign up for our text alerts to receive updates on when new babies are being born by texting “BABY” to 75782. Message and data rates apply.

Little Hands on the Farm

Located next to the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center, the Andringa Family Foundation Little Hands on the Farm is celebrating its 13th a=nniversary. Through this interactive adventure, kids can learn what it is like to do chores on a farm and earn play money to spend at the grocery store.

More education fun

The Boulevard of Dairy Breeds, located in the John and Emily Putney Family Cattle Barn, will focus on the six main breeds of dairy cattle in Iowa with hands-on activities, cattle, baby calves and the favorite, “I Milked a Cow” display. Be sure to check out the public milkings daily at 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. in the renovated milking parlor.

Stop by the Maytag Family Theaters every day at 1 p.m. to see the film “Food Evolution” brought to you by the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. “Food Evolution” is set amidst a brutally polarized debate marked by fear, distrust and confusion: the controversy surrounding GMOs and food.

Make memories your kids will never forget with the Grape Getaway and the Ag-Venture Discovery Trail. The Grape Getaway is daily across from Grandfather’s Barn starting at 9 a.m. Pick up your map for the Ag-Venture Discovery Trail at any information booth.

New thrills at the 2017 Iowa State Fair

Discover all of the new exciting thrills at the Iowa State Fair. From new amusement rides, to new food on a stick and the celebration of the Butter Cow, the Iowa State Fair has something for everyone.

2017 Butter Cow


The Iowa State Fair Butter Cow started in 1911 and for many years she has shared her cooler space with various public figures including Elvis Presley, Harry Potter and in 2016 a tribute to “Star Trek.”

For this year’s state fair, Laura Ingalls Wilder will be cast in 100 percent cream butter to celebrate her 150th birthday. Laura Ingalls Wilder spent part of her childhood in Burr Oak, Iowa, and her sister, Mary, attended the Vinton School for the Blind in Iowa. Various birthday celebrations and festivals are happening across the Midwest in recognition of her birthday. (More butter please)

West Des Moines will be host to the international golf tournament for women. Sarah Pratt, Iowa State Fair butter sculptor since 2006, will be bringing a little bit of the Solheim Cup to the Iowa State Fair as she creates a replica of the official trophy. Both Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Solheim Cup trophy will be on display with the Butter Cow in the John Deere Agriculture Building throughout the fair.

Thrill parks

Iowa State Thrill Parks will officially be open for the 2017 Iowa State Fair. From state-of-the-art reloadable digital wristbands to super spectacular one of a kind rides, you won’t want to miss Iowa State Thrill Parks: Thrill Ville, Thrill Town and Thrill Zone in 2017.

Advanced Thrill Pass Digital Wristband offers expire on Aug. 9. Order your wristbands and save today at iowastatefair.org/entertainment/attractions.

Opening ceremonies will take place at 9 a.m. in front of Thrill Ville on Grand Ave.

Heroes’ day

Heroes’ day celebrates EMTs, fire and rescue personnel, policemen and paramedics opening day of the Iowa State Fair Thursday, Aug. 10. Special displays will be on Grand Avenue and the Governor’s Lifesaving Awards and Outstanding Service Awards will be presented at the Susan Knapp Amphitheater, sponsored by Coors Light with media sponsor KDSM Fox 17 at 10 a.m.

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

Ketchup with your closest comrades Saturday, Aug. 12 for the nationally acclaimed Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Regional Contest. The top male and top female finishers will relish in their victory and be invited to compete in the National Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4, 2018. Enter online today bit.ly/2tkbvWl. Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs will be providing hot dog samples north of the Susan Knapp Amphitheater Stage Aug. 1113. sponsored by Coors Light with media sponsor KSDM Fox 17.

Spirit of Iowa Bell

A tribute to those who have served, those who do serve and those who will serve, watch as the Spirit of Iowa Bell is cast and unveiled on the Fairgrounds to raise awareness about veteran’s needs. From Aug. 12-14, the bell will be created and the completed bell will be showcased in the Veteran’s Day parade on Aug. 14th.

2017 new foods

The Iowa State Fair is known for fun, interesting and delicious food. Each year, a list of new culinary adventures from sweet to salty, to strange and tasty are announced. Fairgoers can try over 40 new foods at the 2017 Fair.

Some of the new foods for this year’s Iowa State Fair include:

– Chocolate Lava Cake

– Apple Taco

– The Buddha Bar

– Bomb Pop Lemonade

– Bubble Tea

– Fruit & Chocolate Fondue

– Thanksgiving Balls

– Sweet Brat Corndog with Maple syrup on-a-stick

– Bacon Cheese Fries

– Bacon in a Cup

– Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog

– Fair Square – Birthday Cake Flavor

Three new fair foods will be competing for the coveted 2017 Iowa State Fair People’s Choice Best New Food Contest. Fairgoers can sample the top three finalists and cast their vote Aug. 10-15 during the fair. Those finalists are:

– Pork-Almighty: The tower of power! The Pork Almighty contains crispy beer battered twister fries and is covered with queso cheese sauce, smothered with smoked shredded pork, topped with sauteed onions, green peppers, Cookies BBQ sauce and is sprinkled with shredded cheese. A soft drink is included. The Pork Almighty is located at Steer N Stein on Grand Avenue for $12.00.

– Iowa’s Big Pork Leg: A pork shank that is Iowa raised and smoked to perfection with a sweet caribbean seasoning. The Iowa’s Big Pork Leg is located east of the Administration Building for $9.00.

– Mig’s Hickory Smoked Chicken BLT Wrap: A wrap that contains diced smoked chicken tossed with a creamy bacon dressing, celery and chopped herbs. Inside the tortilla is the chicken salad mix along with shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes and crispy bacon bits. The Mig’s Hickory Smoked Chicken BLT Wrap is located southeast of the Varied Industries Building for $9.00.

Frequently ranked as one of the top events in the country, the Iowa State Fair is the single largest event in the state of Iowa and one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the country. Annually attracting more than a million people from all over the world, the Iowa State Fair located at East 30th and East University, just 10 minutes from downtown Des Moines is Iowa’s greatest celebration with a salute to the best in agriculture, industry, entertainment and achievement.

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