Frequently Asked Questions

Iowa State Fair FAQs

Every year the Iowa State Fair staff fields questions from visitors. Some of the most frequently asked questions are below. The answers are a constant reminder that Nothing Compares to the Iowa State Fair.

When is the 2024 Fair?

August 8-18, 2024

What are upcoming Fair dates?

  • 2025: August 7-17
  • 2026: August 13-23
  • 2027: August 12-22

Where is the Fair located?

The Fairgrounds are located at East 30th and East University Avenue in Des Moines. Driving directions can be found on the maps and directions page.

Where can I find a map of the Fairgrounds?

You can find a downloadable map of the fairgrounds and water refill stations on the fairgrounds map page of this website.

What time do the Fairgrounds open and close?

The Fair is open from 8 a.m. to midnight daily. Most Fair buildings are open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. August 8-17: No on-site ticket sales and no entry/re-entry allowed after 10 p.m. No entry or re-entry after 7 p.m. on the last Sunday.

Where is accessible parking available during the Fair?

The largest area of parking reserved for visitors with disabilities is located in the North Lot. Admission to this lot is through Gate #2 at East 33rd Street and East University Avenue. Vehicle parking is on a space-available basis; some hard-packed surface parking is available. For more information visit the disability assistance page.

Will my bag be searched?

  • At All Entry Gates:
    The Iowa State Fair reserves the right to search all bags, backpacks, coolers, purses, containers etc. upon entry to the Fairgrounds and upon request while on the Fairgrounds. Refusal to comply will result in denied entry.
  • At the Grandstand:
    All bags and backpacks are subject to search upon entry to the Grandstand. Refusal to comply will result in denied entry.

Are concealed weapons allowed on the Fairgrounds?

Guns are prohibited on the Iowa State Fairgrounds; with or without a valid Iowa permit to carry unless authorized by the Fair Board as per Iowa Code. Failure to comply with this rule shall be cause for expulsion from the fairgrounds and/or being charged under Iowa Code.

Is smoking allowed on the Fairgrounds?

In accordance with the Smokefree Air Act, portions of the Fairgrounds are smoke-free. While smoking is allowed in the walkway areas of the Fairgrounds, the law applies to sections designated by no-smoking signs. In those areas, smoking of any kind is prohibited (including use of e-cigarettes). Smoke-free areas of the Fairgrounds include:

  • Outdoor entertainment venues - stage areas, building porches and grounds attraction areas.
  • Restaurants and bars - both enclosed and open serving areas, eateries and concession stands.
  • Grandstand area or inside buildings - this remains the same as past years.

For more information or to report a complaint, visit the Smokefree Air Act website; call the Smokefree Air Act Helpline 1-888-944-2247; or mail a written complaint to the Iowa Department of Public Health, 321 E. 12th Street, Des Moines, IA 50319-0075.

Where should lost children/lost people go?

Lost children, adults or persons with special needs should be taken to the Hall of Law – Iowa State Patrol Booth, located underneath the east end of the Grandstand, until 8 p.m. After 8 p.m., lost children, adults and persons with special needs should be taken to the Public Safety Building at the west end of Grand Avenue. Paging is done from the Public Safety Building from 9 a.m. until midnight, and is only available for lost children, adults or persons with special needs and medical emergencies. “Kid Find” wristbands will be available at all Information booths, the Public Safety Building, the Hall of Law and at the Des Moines Radio Group booth at the west end of the Grandstand. Wristbands are sponsored by Goodwill Industries in partnership with STAR 102.5, the Iowa State Fair Police and the Iowa State Patrol.

What happens during severe weather?

When the National Weather Service issues a severe weather warning impacting the Fairgrounds, an announcement will be made over the grounds-wide public address system alerting Fairgoers to seek shelter. The announcement will be repeated every two minutes until the severe weather warning has expired. Fairgoers may get general Fair alerts at ‘FAIR’ to 844.844.8508.

When the National Weather Service issues a severe weather warning impacting the Grandstand, an announcement will be communicated over the public address system as well as video boards advising to shelter in place, move to the interior of the Grandstand, or evacuate the Grandstand. If a severe weather event occurs, Grandstand ushers, security personnel and law enforcement will give instructions. This may delay the event start time.

When do advance admission tickets go on sale? Where can I purchase them?

For more information, visit buy tickets.

When do Grandstand tickets go on sale? Where can I purchase them?

For more info and the full lineup, visit the Grandstand page.

Do Grandstand tickets include Fair admission?

Grandstand tickets do NOT include admission to the Fair. Fair admission must be purchased separately.

Are pets allowed on the Fairgrounds?

The only animals allowed on grounds and in buildings are those that align with the ADA's service animal classification for animals specifically trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA and are therefore not allowed on grounds or in buildings.

During non-Fair time, pets are welcome on the Fairgrounds. During pet-specific events, there may be a waiver to this policy allowing pets in the show building.

What can I bring through the gate – like outside food, coolers or water bottles?

Outside food and one sealed bottle of water are allowed on the grounds during the Fair. Reusable drink containers are acceptable if they are empty. There are water refill stations on the grounds. NOTE: metal and glass containers are not allowed in the Iowa State Fair Grandstand or Elwell Family Park. If perishables or medication need to stay cool, small soft sided coolers are permissible.

Does the Fair have private areas for nursing mothers?

There are two Baby Diaper Changing/Nursing Stations on the Fairgrounds, located in the Animal Learning Center and the Walnut Center. Both locations provide parents and their children with a safe, comfortable and private atmosphere. Rocking chairs and an area for diaper changing are also provided. Diaper changing and family restrooms are also available at the Heritage Village restroom facility adjacent to the Susan Knapp Amphitheater and the restrooms behind Ye Old Mill.

Where are ATMs located?

Approximately 30 ATMs will be scattered throughout the grounds, including just outside the Robert G. Horner & Sheri Avis Horner Service Center and just inside the Grandstand entrance. These locations are marked on the fairgrounds map.

Where are lost items claimed?

Lost and found is located at the Iowa State Fair Police Department, located at the west end of the Grand Concourse. Iowa State Fair Police can be reached by phone at 515.262.3111 ext 327.

Does the Fair have motorized scooters?

Yes, there are a limited number available. Reservations will be accepted for full-day rentals of wheelchairs and electric scooters. A certain number of units will be available for walk-up rentals as well. Rental locations are adjacent to Gate 11 at the west end of the Grand Concourse, east of Gate 15 and at the entrance of Gate 8. Reference the Fairgrounds map for details. For more information visit the disability assistance page.

Iowa State Fair Scooter Policy

Three or four wheeled, manual or electrically driven (at a walking pace) OPDMDs are permitted to be used in all areas open to pedestrian use so long as these devices are 1) designed by the manufacturer for single rider use only; 2) occupied by only one rider while in operation; and 3) not pulling or towing any trailer-like object. Scooters are available for rental, during the fair, at Gates 8, 10, 11, 13, and 15.

Where can I rent strollers or wagons at the Fair?

Strollers and wagons are available on a first come, first serve basis inside the Grand Avenue Gate #11 and Gate #15. Stroller rental is $20 per day; co-stroller rental is $25; and wagon rental is $27 per day; covered wagon is $30 (cash deposit or id is required for rentals).

Where do I find a daily program of Fair events?

The Fair’s Daily Program will be inserted into The Des Moines Register on the Sunday before the Fair, and will be available on the daily program page in July. Programs are also distributed at all gates during the Fair.

Where are the DART State Fair Park and Ride locations and when are they running?

Route information can be found on the State Fair Parking / DART Park & Ride page.

Where can I find results and when are they posted?

Results are generally posted within 2-3 days of the event on the competition results page. For complete 4-H results, please contact your local extension office.

Are there camping sites available during Fair time?

Demand for a spot in our lush, 160-acre Campgrounds is always high! For more information visit the camping section.

Are political candidates welcome to campaign at the Iowa State Fair?

All political candidates are welcome to attend the Iowa State Fair with paid gate admission.

The Fair is unable to provide on-grounds transportation, security, parking or complimentary admission tickets for candidates, staff, media or supporters. The Fair does not provide space for meet and greets, campaign rallies, fundraisers or other political events.

Where can I find information about hotels near the Fairgrounds?

The Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau provides up-to-date lodging information. You may contact them by calling 800.451.2625 or search their online accommodations listings at catchdesmoines.com.