Aerial view of the Iowa State Fair in the Des Moines metro area. Photo via Shutterstock.

Iowa State Fair 2024

AUGUST 08-18, 2024


The apogee of state-fair-ness, the fair to end all fairs. Love it or hate it, the Iowa State Fair lives in your dreams.

Even if you’ve never been to the Iowa State Fair, you’ve probably seen pictures. The gondola lift soaring over crowds at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, the ferris wheel lit up at night. Then there are the lesser-known oddities: butter sculptures, pickle dogs, a husband calling contest. And yes, there are politicians, too. Every election cycle we’re treated to the spectacle of sweaty politicians choking on corn dogs in broad daylight. It’s a rite of passage for these people: Rick Perry showed off his throat game in 2011, Bernie Sanders in 2019, Obama in ‘07 — the list goes on. In 2024’s heated presidential race, steel yourself for some unforgettable images.

Corn dogs aren’t the only fried food on offer, though. Fried Oreos, fried mac and cheese, fried butter. If you can digest it, they can fry it. More and more vegan options are popping up these days, but don’t let your vegan friend fool you into thinking fried avocado is any healthier. It’s all part of the Iowa State Fair’s brand of Americana: it’s carnival games, funnel cakes and rock n’ roll.

The rock n’ roll part requires separate tickets for entry. In past years The Black Keys, Bob Dylan, and Elton John have performed. Set to play this year are Greta Van Fleet, Motley Crue, and The Avett Brothers. If that’s not an all-American roster, I don’t know what is.

The Specs

  • Over a million people attend and it’s the largest event in the state.
  • Advanced admission tickets are $11, or $16 at the door. Grandstand tickets are sold separately and range from $35 to $125. Grandstand tickets have gone on sale at separate times. Some went on sale Friday, February 23, others on Friday, March 8 on the fair’s website.
  • Check out our list of the best things to do in Des Moines.


Which airport is closest to the festival grounds?

Des Moines International Airport (DSM) is 10 miles away.

What is the bag policy?

Bags are allowed, but subject to inspection.

Is the festival ADA-accessible?

Accessible parking, wheelchairs, scooters and assisted listening devices are all available on-site.

What is the 2024 fair theme?

It’s “fair fever” which the official website describes as “It’s a throwback to nostalgia with a vibe full of tradition. Fair Fever can only be described as a heightened state of joy, enthusiasm and anticipation. It’s a deep down countdown to all the fun you will find at the 2024 Iowa State Fair!”

What is the Blue Ribbon Foundation?

The Blue Ribbon Foundation is the organization that raises money to renovate the Fairgrounds. More than $170 million has been raised, pledged or committed to date.

Which artists are playing the Iowa Lottery Grandstand Concert Series – Krause Group Stage? 

This year’s Iowa State Fair Grandstand lineup (the grandstand acts) include Lauren Daigle (with special guest Blessing Offor), Foreigner (with special guest Melissa Etheridge), Jelly Roll, rock band Greta Van Fleet (who bring their Starcatcher World Tour with special guest The Beaches), Brett Young (with special guest NEEDTOBREATHE), Thomas Rhett, Motley Crue (with special guest Pop Evil), Gabriel ‘Fluffy’ Iglesias Live, The Avett Brothers (with G. Love & Special Sauce), Ne-Yo (with special guest Eric Bellinger) and Kidz Bop Live.


2024 Theme


BY Jeremiah David Jenkins