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State Historical Society of Iowa

Step into history at the Iowa State Fair

Aug 3, 2022

Iowans are invited to take a healthy step forward by stepping back in time. The 8th annual Iowa State Fair Historical Walking Tour, co-hosted by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative, will kick off the fair’s first day, on Thursday, Aug. 11.

Iowans will join Gov. Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and other fairgoers while guides from the State Historical Society of Iowa stop to share stories at several historic sites along the way. The tour will start at 8:15 a.m. near the Administration Building on the Grand Concourse and finish about 45 minutes later at the fair's opening ceremony.

“Opening the Iowa State Fair with the historical walking tour offers a chance to retrace the footsteps of earlier generations, to learn how Iowa’s ingenuity and community spirit have shaped our state,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said.

Iowans from all walks of life have crossed paths at this dynamic cultural gathering for more than a century. This year’s tour highlights include Thomas Clagett, an early fair president and a controversial newspaper publisher from Keokuk, along with race car driver Emory Collins of Sibley, world-famous ornithologist Althea Sherman of National, and members of the Meskwaki Nation, who shared their culture at a fair display during Iowa’s statehood centennial in 1946. Other stories will feature Brooklyn Supreme, an Ogden stallion who was once known as the world’s largest horse, and Dike of Rosedale, the boar who starred as a prize pig in the 1933 movie “State Fair.” (Dike’s brother Floyd lent his name to the football trophy that travels between the University of Iowa and University of Minnesota.)

The walking route is approximately 1 kilometer, or about 1,500 steps for an average walker.

“The walking tour is a great opportunity for education and exercise at the same time,” said Jami Haberl, executive director of the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative. “For people of all ages, physical activity is one of the most essential tools to improve health and overall well-being.”

The historical walking tour is free with the price of fair admission and has become a popular annual tradition. Different sites are chosen each year by experts from the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

Details about all of the programs can be found at

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its divisions – the State Historical Society of Iowa, including the State Historic Preservation Office; the Iowa Arts Council; the interim Iowa Humanities Council; and Produce Iowa, the state office of media production – empower Iowans to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting to the people, places and points of pride that define our state.