What’s happening at the Iowa State Fair in 2022? A sensory day and more
State fairs originated in the 1800s as a way to promote agriculture through displays of livestock and agricultural products. Iowa’s first state fair in 1854 was held in Fairfield with contests for the highest grain yields, samples of oats and corn, and even a collection of birds from across the state.
Fast forward to today and there have been countless changes to State Fair with new features big and small being introduced regularly. Just like in so many years past, regular State Fair attendees can always find new things to do, plus try one of 53 new foods for 2022, including three shortlisted for Best of the year.
Here are five notable additions to this year’s acts. Although many of the following events are free after admission, keep in mind that fair admission is not included in the price of paid events.
What’s new last year? :New to the 2021 Iowa State Fair: Here are the expanded novelties
World record for biggest cornhole tournament
This year, the organizers of the Iowa State Fair announced that they would attempt to break a world record for the largest cornhole tournament in the world.
To achieve this, the organizers want to recruit at least 445 participants to play cornhole on the Grand Concourse at the exhibition center from 10 a.m. on August 20.
The current world record was set with 444 players who participated in a tournament in San Diego.
Anyone interested in participating in the State Fair tournament can do so through the Scoreholio app for iOS and Android and follow the link for registration.
After:Wanted: 445 Iowans to break Guinness World Record at Iowa State Fair
Sensory Morning at the Iowa State Fair
For the first time ever, the Iowa State Fair plans to offer a sensory morning for people with autism, PTSD, or sensory processing disorders.
As the sounds and lights that the State Fair usually produces may be too stimulating for some, the morning of August 17 will have features that might be helpful for those who cannot normally attend. These implementations include the introduction of a calming room, designated educational zones, and sound and motion dampening, according to a press release from State Fair.
“We have a good understanding of what physical accessibility looks like, and now making spaces more accessible in a broader sense…(is) the next more inclusive chapter of accessibility,” Daniel Van Sant, Director disability policy at the Harkin Institute — a public policy institute at Drake University — told the Des Moines Register last year when speaking about accommodating invisible disabilities.
After:As sensory disorders are more widely recognized, efforts to accommodate them are also growing in central Iowa.
As State Fair officials say, “There’s nothing else like it on the fairgrounds.” The renovated, state-of-the-art kitchen was designed around teaching, learning and sharing. Whether you’re just curious about cooking and baking or the envy of friends and family, you’re invited to stop, sit down for a minute, and learn from some amazing Iowans.
Located in the Maytag Family Theaters, the kitchen is a place where attendees can learn new hobbies, from mixology and deli meats to food styling and photography. Each Operation Day offers free sessions that could include tips on how to build a wedding cake, how to make cupcake animals, and even how to make a meal plan.
Fair officials have also created paid courses that require prior registration.
Motorsport Racing State Fair Cup
For this year’s State Fair, Kruse Motorsports presents the first Iowa State Fair Short Course UTV & ATV Racing Cup.
The all-ages event will take place August 13 at Elwell Family Park, another relatively new addition to the State Fair that can hold 6,000 people, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets for ages 12 and up are $15, prices for children ages 2-11 are $10, and pit admission is $25.
The competition represents phase two of the introduction of Elwell Family Park, which includes the addition of bleachers and covered seating this year. Those interested in participating in this year’s UTV & ATV Racing Cup are encouraged to register online.
Butter Cow Side Pieces
The Iowa State Fair butter cow is far from a new face for the year, however – as former Fairgoers know – an additional sculpture usually accompanies the butter cow each year.
This year’s butter beef will be accompanied by a tribute to “The Music Man,” the 1957 Broadway musical written by Mason City native Meredith Willson.
After:The Iowa State Fair butter cow will be joined by the sculptures ‘Music Man’ and Ye Old Mill in 2022
The 600-pound butter cow will also have another accompanying piece in the form of a relief celebrating the 100th anniversary of Ye Old Mill, a 1,500-foot canal ride at the Iowa State Fair built for the first times in 1921.
More information about the above events, or registration for them, can be found by going to www.iowastatefair.org.
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Isaac Hamlet covers arts, entertainment and culture at the Des Moines Register. Reach him at [email protected] or 319-600-2124, follow him on Twitter @IsaacHamlet.