By James Romer
Master Gardener Coordinator
Iowa State University Extension
The Iowa State Fair is almost here. With all of the exhibits, entertainment and food it’s easy to overlook the beautiful horticultural displays throughout the grounds. However, there are many locations to sit back, relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the Iowa State Fair. A few are listed below with many other locations to explore as well.
The Discovery Garden, located southwest of the Agriculture Building, is a cooperative effort between the Polk County Extension Master Gardeners and the Iowa State Fair. The garden features new, unusual and tried-and-true annuals, perennials, and other plant materials. (All plants in the garden are identified with both their common and botanical names.) Fair guests also have the opportunity to ask gardening questions and learn more about the Master Gardener program from Master Gardeners located in the garden. The Discovery Garden, open to visitors year round, blooms all summer with interesting and unusual plants.
Located just south of the Grandstand, Legacy Terrace is a popular spot to take in the sights and sounds of the fair. This 2003 addition to the Fairgrounds features annual flower plantings, arching fountains, shade trees and benches. This is the perfect place to rest, relax and people watch as fairgoers, employees and others stream along the Grand Concourse.
Created in 1996 by a donation from the Pella Corporation, this 50,000 square foot park features benches, flowers, trees, a water fountain and flags representing each of Iowa’s 99 counties. During hot weather, this is the ideal place for visitors to cool off. Children can dance (get wet!) in the fountains while adults rest nearby under shade trees.
Throughout the run of the fair, check out Iowa’s best in flowers, vegetables and potted plants in the Agriculture Building. If you have visited the Agriculture Building once during the fair and thought you had seen it all, think again. Different flower, potted plant, vegetable and floral arrangement classes occur about every two days. Don’t miss the roses, bonsai, gladiolus, dahlias, potted plants, floral arrangements and vegetable displays. Check the Agriculture Building schedule for dates of shows. Finally, no visit to the fair would be complete without viewing the famous butter cow.
Don’t miss your chance to celebrate the best Iowa has to offer. It’s State Fair Time Aug. 13–23.