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Bayley Rustad holds piglet the Fair's Swine Barn, August 17, 1999
Bayley Rustad of Des Moines learns a little about rural Iowa farm life in the Iowa State Fair's Swine Barn, August 17, 1999. Photo: Jessica Phares

Iowa State Fair

Each August, people from every corner of the state of Iowa flock to Des Moines for this annual celebration. The internationally known Iowa State Fair is the state's largest event and one of the largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the United States. Attracting nearly one million visitors each year, the Iowa State Fair is extremely popular in the Midwest for its wide variety of activities. It is a proud tradition of the state, and serves as a vehicle for tourism, economic development, education, entertainment and culture.

The fair's primary purse is to celebrate Iowa's livelihood. It provides a place for farmers to meet and discuss innovations, equipment, and successes. The fair is home to one of the world's largest livestock shows, including exhibitions of dairy and beef cattle, sheep, hogs, horses and poultry.

It also offers diversity, where attendees may showcase cooking skills or compete in a talent show. In its cultural center, it hosts the state's largest arts show, from photography to sculpture to painting. Grandstand acts have ranged from the Carpenters to Barbara Mandrell to Alan Jackson to the Goo Goo Dolls.

Since Iowa State Fair began in 1854, its remains a place for Iowans to communicate innovation and methodology. New exhibitions and attractions are added each year. Among historic highlights have been the display of the Wright Brothers' biplanes in 1911 and a visit by Charles Lindbergh in 1927. During election years, political candidates are quite visible, and several United States presidents have visited. In 1986, the Iowa State Fair was placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its facilities-most pre-date World War I-that are distinguished for large scale, specialized utilization building design.

Documentation includes text report, a map, and 30 colorful photographs.

Originally submitted by: Charles E. Grassley, Senator.



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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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