The 2021 Iowa State Fair Parade is the official kick-off to the Iowa State Fair. Joe Barksdale, of Ankeny, and Al and Nita Fincham, of Des Moines, will serve as the 2020 and 2021 Parade Marshals and will lead the parade through the streets of downtown Des Moines. Over 100 entries are set to participate in this year's parade.

Joe Barksdale, 93, has made Barksdale's cookies synonymous with the Iowa State Fair, and in 2019, he gifted the business to the Fair. Barksdale had a concession stand on the Fairgrounds between 1976 and 2019 and baked cookies from 1993 until the sale of his concession stand.

A native of Alabama, Barksdale and his wife, Virginia, moved to Iowa in 1958.

Al and Nita Fincham have served as the Iowa State Campgrounds superintendents for the past 33 years. During that time they have seen the campground numbers almost double from around 1,200 in 1988 to a projected 2,300 in 2021. Although the Finchams will retire after the 2021 Fair and enjoy some traveling, Al will continue his bus driving activities for the Grandview Christian School in Des Moines. Chances are you'll probably see them back at the 2022 Fair visiting the great people they enjoyed working with and the "family" of campers who made each year a joy.

The parade will travel from the Capitol down Grand Avenue and march west to 15th Street.

Iowa PBS will live broadcast the Iowa State Fair Parade tonight starting at 6:15 p.m. statewide as well as on Facebook.

Visit for the full daily schedule, download the official Iowa State Fair App or text FAIR to 844.844.8508 for the latest updates.