Iowa State Fair 2016: For the Kids

Iowa State Fair 2016: For the Kids

August is just a few days aways and you know what that means … The legendary, “Nothing Compares” Iowa State Fair! If you live in Iowa, families plan their vacations, jobs, and lives around this 11-day event. From August 11th – August 21st, children and families will be taking the day to explore the Iowa State Fair, probably not only once, but several times! It can become overwhelming and expensive, but don’t worry, I am here to help guide you through what you should think about before attending the fair!

Ultimate Guide Just For Kids!

Let’s start with THINGS TO DO! There are lots of things to do, but here is a list of specific things that you may want to check out with the kiddos.

  • The Iowa State Parade – Every year, it is the Wednesday evening before the gates open for the fair. This year it is Wednesday, August 10th and will begin at 6:15 pm in downtown Des Moines. 200 floats, animals, vehicles and more! Parade entrants will then travel west on Grand Avenue to 13th Street.
  • Midway – Rides! One of the best parts of the fair, right?! Check out the list of rides & height requirements. If you think you will be riding lots or rides, several times then purchasing a pass is going to be the best thing for your wallet! Buy  MegaPasses here!
  • Kiddieland – The family-friendly kid area in the Midway is filled with attractions that both children and parents can enjoy during the Fair. There are a limited number of rides for children under 36” to enjoy alone. Most rides will need a paying adult to ride with the child.
  • Kids Zone – The perfect place for your little ones!
  • Livestock – One of my favorite things to see at the fair! With all the kids touching the livestock PLEASE make sure they wash their hands!
    • Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center
    • Milking Parlor/Milking Experience
    • Boulevard of Dairy Breeds
    • I Milked a Cow!
    • Cattle Corner
    • Avenue of Breeds
    • Pig Place
    • Horse Haven
    • Sheep Stop
    • Hedrick’s Petting Zoo – Open 9 am to 9 pm, now located in the Kids Zone!
  • Food – Check out the list of new items this year!
  • Spray Pad – Perfect place for the kids to run and cool off on a super hot day! Bring extra clothes!
  • Art Attack – Located in the Courtyard in the Cultural Center. 1-5 FREE children’s activities!

Now, that you know of some things to do … PRICES & HOURS!

Grounds: 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.; no entry or re-entry after 9 p.m. on Extreme Sunday, August 21st
Buildings: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Midway: 10 a.m. to Midnight

Regular Gate Admission

Visa, MasterCard and Discover accepted at the gate.

Adults (Ages 12+): $12
Children (Ages 6-11): $6
Children (Ages 5 & Under): FREE

Check out all the discounted admission opportunities!

There is still time to purchase punch cards, mega passes, etc. I HIGHLY recommend taking advantage of these. It will save you lots! Check out all the details here and don’t delay to purchase! All online order close at NOON on AUGUST 10th!

PARKING! There are several places to park and it depends on where you are coming from, how long you will be at the fair, etc.!

  • Park on the fairgrounds for $10 per vehicle
  • DART Park & Ride – 8:30 am – Midnight every day. $2 for adults, $1 for seniors, disabled & children (6-10 years). Show your advanced Fair admission and get HALF off!
    • Center Street Park & Ride
    • Southeast Polk High School
    • State Capitol
  • Park at someone’s house and/or yard surrounding the fairground – Prices vary!


  • Cash – Most places do take debit/credit cards, but it is always a bit easier and quicker when you have cash on hand. There will be about 30 ATM’s available and scattered throughout the fairgrounds.
  • Hand sanitizer – There are lots of animals to touch and play with, make sure you have something to clean your hands afterward!
  • Extra clothes – As mentioned above, there is a fun splash/fountain area for the kids to run and cool off in. Make sure you have some dry clothes to change them in afterward!
  • Food & Water – On the site, it states you cannot bring in outside food & drink. My past experiences, if you have small children, packing water bottles, sippy cups, and small snacks will be fine! I highly recommend doing otherwise water and food will add up quickly!
  • An itinerary – Some like to stroll and take in the fair at their own time. If you are wanting to see specific attractions, shows, etc. I would highly recommend creating an outline before going. This way you can see and do as much as you can in one day! There is an AWESOME resource on the fair’s website! You can check out the daily program and create your itinerary right on the site, print and take it with you! Check it out here!

Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

One thought on “Iowa State Fair 2016: For the Kids

  1. Ha, this list screams hand sanitizer. It’s just too much fun not to get in there and get your hands dirty though. Enjoy the fair!

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