Iowa May 10, 2018
11 Can’t Miss Iowa Festivals That Show You The Heart Of The Hawkeye State
When the weather warms up, Iowa’s festival season kicks off, full force! From rodeos to music festivals, there’s always something to do in the Hawkeye State. Check out some of the best Iowa festivals that you absolutely can’t miss in 2018!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Cherokee Rodeo — May 31 to June 2, Cherokee
The Cherokee Rodeo has been entertaining Iowans and showing off cowboy skills for more than 50 years! Enjoy plenty of live action entertainment as well as pony rides and a mechanical bull for kids.
2. America’s River Festival — June 8 & 9, Port of Dubuque
Every June, the Port of Dubuque swells with festival goers looking to have a great time at one of Iowa's largest music festivals. Nearly 10,000 people attended last year! Big names fill the stage and local food truck vendors fill the Port with some of the best food around.
3. Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival — June 14 to July 4. Cedar Rapids
This extra-long celebration leads up to the 4th of July, but don't write it off as any ordinary celebration! Hot air balloons, local artists, live entertainment, and delicious fair food take over the city for a few weeks every summer.
4. Burlington Steamboat Days — June 14-17, Burlington
Steamboat Days is another enormous music festival in Eastern Iowa. Over four days, dozens of bands and performers fill the air with American rock and country music. In previous years, a carnival accompanied the event, but this year they've got something new in store! You'll have to head down to the charming city of Burlington itself to experience this festival at least once in your life.
5. The Wurst Festival — June 16, Amana Colonies
The Wurst Festival features the best of German brews and brats and plenty of unique activities and contests! Bring your wiener dog for the Dachshund Derby, participate in the Masskrugstemmen to see how long you can hold out a stein full of beer, and get your diploma from Wurst University!
6. Great Jones County Fair — July 18-22, Monticello
The Great Jones County Fair may be the best week of summer! This is one of the biggest Iowa festivals and features everything from incredible musical acts, to a demolition derby, performing animals, a farm fair and face painting! Plus, all of that fair food that Iowa is famous for creating.
7. Des Moines Arts Festival — June 22-24, Des Moines
The Des Moines Art Festival is one of the best weekends in Iowa! Stroll seemingly endless rows of vendors selling their handcrafted, handpainted and handmade goods. Celebrate the creativity of your local Iowans and participate in the activities offered for everyone who attends!
8. RAGBRAI — July 22-28, throughout Iowa
The Register’s Annual Great Race Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) is a week-long tour of Iowa via bike. Cyclists travel from town to town, and the route changes every year. Occasionally, you'll run into an Iowan who hates RAGBRAI, but for the majority of us, showing off our great state and charming host towns is an honor.
9. Nordic Fest — July 26 - 28, Decorah
The most interesting festival in Iowa is right in Decorah, where you'll learn all about the town's Norwegian heritage and history! Enjoy a great parade, plenty of history lessons, and some of the tastiest food in the state. Test your skills in plenty of games and physical challenges and enjoy the beautiful fireworks display as well.
10. Iowa State Fair — August 9 to 19, Des Moines
The queen of all Iowa festivals is the Iowa State Fair. Known for outrageous foods, incredible entertainment, and for showing off all that Iowa represents in terms of agriculture, history, and lifestyle — you're really missing out if you skip this one!
11. Madison County Covered Bridge Festival — October 13-14, Winterset
We know it's a long way off, but the Covered Bridges festival is worth putting on your calendar now. Celebrate the scenery and history of one of Iowa's most beautiful regions and welcome fall in the best way possible.
Which of these Iowa festivals is your favorite? Are there any that you’ve never missed? Tell us in the comments below!