The Iowa State Fair is the state’s largest celebration. It is held in Des Moines, beginning approximately three weeks before Labor Day. The Fair has been an Iowa tradition since 1854. It was the inspiration for the 1932 novel “State Fair” by Phil Stong and the musical by Rogers and Hammerstein.
With approximately 285 acres of fairground, the fair offers competitions, free entertainment, a large midway, arts and crafts and one of the world’s largest livestock shows. Its 200 food vendors offer more than 50 food-on-a-stick treats. In a 2005 article, “Midwest Living” magazine named the Iowa State Fair one of “The Top 30 Things Every Midwesterner Should Experience.”
Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Richie Valens played their last concert Feb. 2, 1959, at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. They perished when their plane crashed just north of town. A memorial concert, held on the 20th anniversary of the crash in 1979, has expanded into an annual four-day event dubbed 50s in February or The Winter Dance Party. Rock ‘n’ roll fans enjoy a variety of musical talents at the Surf Ballroom and can pay homage to the rock ‘n’ roll legends by visiting the memorial located at the crash site.
Glenn Miller was a popular musician and bandleader in the 1940s . When he was inducted into the Army, he organized the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band to entertain the troops. On Dec. 14, 1944, Miller boarded a military transport plane and was never seen again.
Miller’s birthplace, Clarinda Iowa, celebrates his music and honors his memory by hosting The Glenn Miller Festival. The first Glenn Miller Festival was held in 1976, the bicentennial year of the United States. During the four day event in June, fans enjoy a variety of big-band concerts as well as historians discussing the big-band era. The house where Miller was born is a focus of the celebration. The Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum was completed in 2010.
The Adel Sweet corn Festival is an Iowa tradition. The celebration begins the night before the festival when volunteers gather to shuck seven tons of Dearduff sweet corn. Festival-goers eat the corn for free until it is gone. Events include a 5k run, arts and crafts, parade, street dance and beer garden.
Rich in German Heritage, Ackley, Iowa, has celebrated Sauerkraut Days for more than 100 years. The four day event takes place every June. Visitors enjoy free hot dogs and Sauerkraut, a midway with carnival rides, a music and beverage tent, a parade and fireworks.
Iowa State Fair: General Information
Midwest Living: 30 Things Every Midwesterner Should Experience
Surf Ballroom & Museum: A Tradition Begins
The Glenn Miller Birthplace Society
Adel Partners Chamber of Commerce: Adel Sweetcorn Festival
Ackley Iowa: 2010 Sauerkraut Days