Going to the Iowa State Fair is fun for the whole family, but it is also a great opportunity for kids to learn about the agricultural richness of Iowa. Here are the top five learning experiences kids will be talking about long after their last corn dog and ride down the Giant Slide. For more information about these and other kid-friendly events, visit www.iowastatefair.org/visit/kid-friendly-activities.
- Little Hands on the Farm - Located in Kids Zone, the Andringa Family Foundation Little Hands on the Farm is a fun and interactive way for children to experience the importance of agriculture and how it affects their daily lives. Children ages 2 to 10 become farmers at this free, hands-on exhibit by proceeding along a path that includes a swine barn, garden, grain bin, apple orchard, chicken barn, tractor shed, cattle barn, sheep barn and dairy barn. After all of their hard work, the last stop of the grocery store is a highlight to pick out a piece of fruit, a snack or ice cream.
- Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center - What could be more interesting than watching chicks hatch? Perhaps it's seeing a calf being born or holding a baby pig? With something happening every moment of every day, you never know what you might see and learn in the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center, a short walk south of Little Hands on the Farm. This is your chance to get up close and personal with the animals that make Iowa's farms famous.
- Barn Education Centers - The livestock barns are filled with animals and lots of information about them. Special hands-on exhibits in each barn explain the importance of livestock to the state, the country and the world. Be sure to include a stroll through Cattle Corner, Horse Haven, Pig Place and Sheep Stop when you are oohing and aahing at all the animals in the livestock barns along Rock Island Avenue, south of the Livestock Pavilion. And don't forget a stroll through the Avenue of Breeds presented by Iowa Bankers Association and media sponsor WHO The Big Show, now located next to the Bruce L. Rastetter 4-H Exhibits Building.
- Milk a Cow - If your kids think milk comes from the grocery store or chocolate milk comes from brown cows, put "I Milked a Cow" on your list of State Fair activities. For $3.00, members of the Iowa State Dairy Club will not only explain how cows are milked but give your kids an opportunity to milk a cow and then they can explain it to you! Kids can also see how today's farmers use mechanical milking equipment in the modern milking parlor directly across from the Livestock Pavilion.
- The Garden - Kids learn how a garden grows when they visit The Garden sponsored by Corteva Agriscience, one of the Fair's newest attractions. Located north of Little Hands on the Farm, this area is packed with garden beds and displays to teach kids how vegetables take root in Iowa soil and grow to feed the world. A special composting exhibit teaches the value of ecology and sustainability.
From hands-on ag learning experiences for kids to the thrill of rides, savoring more than 80 delectable items on a stick to free entertainment, nothing compares to the Iowa State Fair, August 12-22 in Des Moines, Iowa. To find a complete schedule of events or to enter family-friendly contests, visit www.iowastatefair.org.