The Iowa State Fair is known for their “fairlicious” food. They have about 200 food stands and over 50 food items available on a stick.
I went to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines with my parents on Friday, August 17th. Dad graciously drove 2.5 hours each way from Omaha to the fair then back to Omaha. We found premium parking right across a state fair gate for $15. There was other parking around the fair for $5 and $10.
Right outside the gate, I paid for admission for $10 per adult.
The last time I went to the state fair, I was a kid with my parents and they treated me. This time, I wasn’t a kid anymore and it was my treat, but I was like a kid in a candy store.
At the Iowa State Fair, I had various food treats including a double bacon corn dog and deep-fried butter…
Treat #1: Double Bacon Corn Dog, $5.
The double bacon corn dog is a hot dog wrapped with two pieces of bacon, dipped in a corn batter with bacon bits, and then deep-fried. This was my favorite fair food on my visit. I delighted in the crispy outside, soft, slightly-sweet corn breading, fatty, salty bacon, and hot dog accented with mustard and ketchup. Both my parents and I enjoyed this and we mowed it down. Certain bites were better than others depending on how much bacon you got. I am now thinking of the commercial with the dog begging for bacon. That was me internally. So good!
Treat #2: Dipped in Chocolate Frozen S’more, $5 and Soft Serve Vanilla Ice Cream, $3
The freshly chocolate-dipped frozen s’more was okay. For me, the marshmallow part was too sweet, the graham cracker too dry, and the chocolate not rich enough. I missed the freshly roasted marshmallow taste and warm melting chocolate components of a campfire s’more. The soft service vanilla ice cream tasted as expected and was enjoyed in the hot weather.
Treat #3: Iowa Craft Beer 3 (5 oz.) Samples, $7
The Iowa Craft Beer Tent is a fun, social place to sit back and unwind over beer. They offered various Iowa beers on tap. We tried three different beers: Madhouse Honey Pilsner (left) was a sweeter, medium-bodied beer, Madhouse Pastime Pale (middle) was a hoppy, wheat-like beer; and Racoon River Zustandfest Pils German Pilsner (right) was the lightest beer. The beers were a nice and refreshing cold break.
Treat #4: Deep-Fried Butter, $4
I have tried various unique food including a fish eyeball with excited glee. Nevertheless, I confess that the infamous deep-fried butter slightly intimidated me. I was excited, BUT hesitant at the same time. It’s a LOT of butter! A stick of butter is literally sticked, dipped in a cinnamon and honey batter, deep-fried, and covered in a sweet glaze frosting. When I had my first bite, melted butter flooded out. It tasted similar to a cinnamon roll but less dense and a lot more buttery.
I had a couple of bites and that was enough for me. My mom had one bite and was done. My dad (who doesn’t like to waste and thought it was decent) ate the remaining. I watched him eat and then drink the rest of the melted butter!
The verdict. The deep-fried butter did not wow me, but it was fun to try. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t have the oh-my-goodness factor that makes it worth the calories and heart disease risk. I did witness another kid have it and rave about it.
Treat #5: Deep-Fried Pineapple, $4
The deep-fried pineapple is fresh pineapple dipped in funnel cake batter, deep-fried, then covered in a glaze frosting. This was my second favorite food I had at the fair! Both my mom and I enjoyed the combination of the sweet and citrusy cooked pineapple, fried outer layer, and sweet frosting accent. Tasty!
At this point, I felt like a grease ball or a kid that ate too much candy, but it was worth the experience!
If you are a foodie snob or health-conscious, I would caution not to expect high-quality, balanced food. If you are wanting new unique or old favorite fair food then this is your place.
Other interesting foods at the fair included german chocolate funnel cake, red velvet funnel cake, fried candy bars (Snickers, Milky Way), and fried Twinkies and Oreos.
The Iowa State Fair has ended but there is always next year! I wonder what “fairlicious” treat they will come up with next year…