The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation received a generous $1 million contribution from Alliant Energy to build a new shelter on the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds in 2022.
The Administration Building was updated inside and out in time for the 1998 Iowa State Fair.
The Agriculture Building was renovated in 1995. Today, visitors to the building continue to experience one of the broadest displays of Iowa’s agricultural and horticultural history.
The old Plaza Stage was renovated and dedicated to Anne and Bill Riley at the 1997 Iowa State Fair.
Barksdale's cookies have become synonymous with the Iowa State Fair. Each year, thousands of families get in line to get their cup or bucket of warm, fresh chocolate chip cookies. In 2019, Joe Barksdale gifted Barksdale's cookies to the people of Iowa, by entrusting the business to the Iowa State Fair.
In 2020, the Barksdale’s State Fair Cookie Kitchen was constructed. This 4,800 sq. ft. building is the main facility for baking these deliciously famous cookies. Fairgoers can peek inside through large windows to see cookies baking and purchase a fresh cup or bucket.
Located east of the Swine Barn, a new outdoor arena and stalling barn were built to replace the open-air arena which previously existed west of the Horse Barn.
Dedicated at the Iowa Centennial State Fair in 1939 to commemorate the Iowa Territory’s organization as a separate government unit in 1839, the spacious 4-H Exhibits Building was originally built as the Poultry Industries Building. Constructed as part of a post-Depression Public Works Administration program at a cost of $125,000, the 49,000-square-foot masonry and steel building features extensive clerestory windows and elaborate stone carvings on its exterior.
The Elwell Family Food Center, formerly known as the the Iowa Tourism Building, was stripped to its core and remodeled in 2009 to increase capacity.
The Iowa State Fair welcomed the return of the beloved truck and tractor pull during the 2021 Iowa State Fair. It had been 4 years since the ground rumbled from mighty tractors at the Fairgrounds and fans were overjoyed to see them back. The Iowa State Fair also hosted a monster truck rally and demolition derby.
The return of dirt events was made possible by a generous $2 million donation from Denny and Candy Elwell for the development of the Elwell Family Park, a brand new outdoor events area on the northwest corner of the Fairgrounds.
In recent years, Expo Hill was the home to thrill rides and attractions, but was made into a more "green" area focusing on renewable energy technologies in 2011. Phase 2 of the project was completed for the 2012 Fair.
Over the 11 days of the Iowa State Fair, a million eager Fairgoers stream through the gates of the Fairgrounds. Some as early as 6 a.m. and occasionally staying until the wee hours of the morning. With construction projects completed in 2018 and 2019, Fairgoers are able to utilize brand new Admissions Gates. In addition to the gate, East 33rd and East 31st streets have new sidewalks and landscaping to enhance the flow of pedestrian traffic north of Grand Avenue.
Resting high atop the hill overlooking the Fairgounds, the fully renovated Grandfather’s Barn is one of the few remaining authentic exhibits of Iowa’s early agricultural heritage.
The Grandstand was originally built in 1909 and was renovated in 1997 and updated in 2018. Today there is a special event hosted each night of the Fair.
The Horse Barn, orginally built in 1907, received renovations in 2002. Additional construction took place in 2010 with the building of the Jacobson Center.
The Hy-Vee Fun Forest, a park equipted with play equipment and entertainment, was completed in time for the 1999 Iowa State Fair.
The Jacobson Plaza beautification project created a distinct pedestrian and parking area to the south of the William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building connecting to the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center and Gate 10. Fairgoers will now easily be able to navigate this area of the Fairgrounds with new sidewalks, landscaping, and lighting.
The Cattle Barn is one of the most commanding structures on the Fairgrounds.
The Livestock Pavilion was completed in time for the 2003 Fair and now hosts a variety of livestock events.
The MidAmerican stage replaced the existing Fairview Stage located east of Pella Plaza and west of the Patty & Jim Cownie Cultural Center in 2015. The new stage includes fixed seating on a concrete surface with designated ADA seating areas, as well as dressing rooms and a loading dock. In addition, new public restrooms adjacent to the stage benefit the entire Fun Forest area.
Located in the southwest section of the Iowa State Fairgrounds is a concrete block building that houses an electrical sub-station. It is a very non-descript building sitting across from one of the Fairgrounds’ busiest entry gates, the gate where all of our Park-&-Ride buses drop off and pick up. It also sits at an intersection within the grounds that is used throughout the year as visitors attend events at the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center, the Bruce L. Rastetter 4-H Exhibits Building, the William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building and the four livestock barns.
Built from 1939-42 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project (at a cost of $4.89 per square foot), the Youth Inn is an outstanding example of art deco design. The rounded corners and glass block on the 12-inch thick steel-reinforced concrete exterior walls exemplify this style of architecture. During the Fair, hundreds of young exhibitors stay at the “Hilton on the Hilltop,” where facilities include bunk beds, showers, a kitchen and a cafeteria with tiered seating.
Today, the Cultural Center is a glittering showcase for Iowa artisans and a Fairtime residence for an impressive variety of artists.
The Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center was completed shortly before the 2007 Iowa State Fair to teach children and families the importance of animal husbandry in Iowa.
Pella Plaza, a beautiful 50,000 square foot park featuring benches, flowers, trees and a water fountain was dedicated in 1996.
After a century on the Farigrounds, Pioneer Hall was renovated and re-opened in 1996.
In 2020, the Reichardt Family Giant Slide moved to its new location north of the FFA Buildings. The slide itself was repainted and placed on an all-new structure with color changing LED lighting accents to jazz up each Fairgoer's ride. In 2021, the slide celebrated 50 years of making people “whoop” with enjoyment!
Renovations to the original State Fair Museum and the addition of the new museum complex were made possible by private contributions.
The Jacobson Exhibition Center is a beautiful year-round facility and the newest building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
The Des Moines Register Service Center was the first new building added to the Fairgrounds by the Blue Ribbon Foundation.
Thanks to a generous donation by John and Janis Ruan III in 2014, a pedestrian friendly plaza has been constructed to connect the Grand Concourse with the Jacobson Exhibition Center. Featuring a boulevard area with improved utilities and access for exhibitors and vendors, it is framed by 20-foot wide walkways.
In 2017, the midway areas on the Farigrounds received a facelift and new names as a part of the Iowa State Fair Thrill Parks. Thrill Parks showcase three separate parks designed for different ages and levels of entertainment. To make space for the new addition to the Fairgrounds the pavement was expanded, utilities updated, and water/sewer lines extended. Pavers now form a walkway at the entrance of Thrill Ville. These permeable pavers help with rain water management.
The largest free entertainment stage on the Fairgrounds, the Susan Knapp was completed in time for the 2006 Iowa State Fair!
The 185,000-square foot Swine Barn has naturally deteriorated over time, and a much deserved facelift finally began on 2005.
Just in time for the 2021 Iowa State Fair, Fairgoers of all ages enjoyed the new garden north of the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center. Filled with crops, plants, trees and even a tunnel with pole beans, gourds, and other vegetables growing overhead. This unique space showcases a combination of rural and urban agriculture.
The 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 also teaches the value of ecology and sustainability.
Originally called the Machinery Hall, the William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building was first constructed in 1911 and fully renovated and renamed in 2001.
The Ye Old Mill was renovated in 1996 after 80 years on the Fairgrounds.