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State Historical Society of Iowa

Annual Historical Walking Tour to Kick Off the Iowa State Fair

Jul 19, 2018

DES MOINES, IA – Hundreds of Iowans will step back into history when they take part in 30 minutes of physical activity during the 5th Annual Historical Walking Tour hosted by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the Healthiest State Initiative on Thursday, Aug. 9, at the Iowa State Fair.

Join the leaders of the host organizations along with Gov. Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and other state officials at 8:15 a.m. by the Administration Building on the Grand Concourse for a walking tour through the Iowa State Fairgrounds and learn about its many historic sites. The tour will finish in time for the Opening Ceremonies at 9 a.m. in front of the Grandstand.

"This tour highlights some the forgotten stories and historic landmarks that make the Iowa State Fairgrounds such a special place," said Chris Kramer, acting director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. "You've probably seen the Butter Cow. But did you know the building that houses it is one of the best examples of double Jeffersonian architecture in the world? You can learn that – and so much more – during the walking tour."

With the purchase of fair admission, the Historical Walking Tour will be free and open to the public. Experts from the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, will lead the walking tour.

Most of the sites on the tour are featured on the department’s Iowa Culture app, which visitors can download for free to their mobile phones and use for self-guided tours throughout not only the fairgrounds but the entire state. The interactive tool maps more than 3,500 historic and cultural landmarks scattered across all 99 counties.

Participants are also encouraged to join the Healthiest State Initiative every morning of the Iowa State Fair at Fitness on the Hill at Expo Hill from 9:30 to 10 a.m. The 30-minute workout classes vary each day and range from yoga to kickboxing to Zumba. A full schedule can be found on the Healthiest State Initiative’s website.

“Our goal is a healthier Iowa,” said Jami Haberl, executive director at the Healthiest State Initiative. “That’s why, in the midst of giant turkey legs and fried corn dogs, we want to provide a fun way for Iowans to get 30 minutes of physical activity each day.”

Walking is one of the most accessible and affordable forms of exercise – the only thing that is required is a pair of walking shoes. Lace up and join us at the Opening Day Walking Tour to kick off the 2018 Iowa State Fair!

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations. 

The Healthiest State Initiative is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization driven by the goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. By engaging worksites, communities, schools, retail food, organizations, institutions and individuals, we can inspire Iowans and their communities to improve their health and happiness, and ultimately achieve our goal. For more information, visit