2013 Iowa State Fair boasts more than one million visitors

DES MOINES — “Happiness Is” the 2013 Iowa State Fair’s final attendance tally of 1,045,048 visitors during its Aug. 8-18 run. Fairgoers packaged meals for the food insecure, indulged in new fair foods and enjoyed all the traditions of the Iowa State Fair during an unprecedented 11 days.

More than 1,500 fairgoers volunteered in the fair’s first ever one-day meal-packaging event in partnership with Meals from the Heartland. Fairgoers packaged 255,096 meals to help alleviate life-threatening hunger around the world. Combined with the fair’s food drive discount day, a total of 46,453 pounds of food was donated to help the food insecure locally and globally. The event was part of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions’ “Dream Big” food drive hosted by fairs throughout the world.

The first annual new fair food contest and eighteen new foods debuted at this year’s fair. Introductory foods ranged from new flavors of funnel cakes and corndogs to the “Graham Champion” Fair Square and deep-fried brownie on-a-stick. Fairgoers voted for the shrimp corndog as the contest’s inaugural champion of the new foods.

This year, the fair hosted 6,650 livestock exhibitors with 21,787 animals throughout the 11 days, making it one of the world’s largest livestock shows. Other highlights included two new equine events, the Supreme Six-Horse Hitch contest and cowboy mounted shooting demonstrations, as well as seven record-breakers in the Iowa Foundation for Agricultural Advancement’s Sale of Champions.

Fairgoers flocked to the agriculture building to get a glimpse of the Butter Cow, a 102-year fair tradition. This year’s companion sculptures commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway Bridge in Tama and the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Other highlights included more than 22,800 exhibitors with 63,550 entries, record attendance of 32,878 at the Little Hands on the Farm interactive farm exhibit, a new fair recycling record of 35 tons and thousands of fairgoers attending concerts at the newly-relocated Budweiser Stage.