When Labor Day rolls around, busy routines are sure to follow, so there’s no time like the present to soak in the last of summertime fun and sun. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to do just that throughout Iowa.
No summer would be complete without a visit to a state fair, and the Iowa State Fair is as big as all outdoors: there are 11 days of festivity from August 12 through 22, 2010 – and it all happens just minutes east of downtown Des Moines at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. There, you can enjoy rides, games, food and entertainment galore. This year’s headliners include Sheryl Crow and Darius Rucker, alongside crowd-pleasers like a demolition derby and the Grand Outlaw National Tractor and Truck Pull. A complete schedule of events is available at www.iowastatefair.org.
Then, in Iowa City, sink your toes into the unique inland celebration of the sea called “Sand in the City,” August 20 through 22, 2010. Free entertainment, giant sand sculptures, artists’ booths and an array of food bring the city streets to life. You can even purchase “sand” dollars to vote for your favorite team’s creation, gain entry to the Kids’ FUN Zone and purchase refreshments. The entire weekend extravaganza benefits the Summer of the Arts programming. For information, visit www.summerofthearts.org/festival-menu/sand-in-the-city/about.aspx.
Labor Day weekend brings with it an opportunity to be transported to another era. Pub wenches and knights in shining armor come to life during the Des Moines Renaissance Faire at Festival Park. Here, you’ll enjoy live entertainment on eight stages, more than 50 artisan shops, demonstrations by blacksmiths and glass blowers and even man-powered carnival rides. Each weekend focuses on a different theme for three weeks beginning September 4, 2010. Visit www.dmrenfaire.com for directions and other information.
Finally, in Le Mars, Iowa, also known as the Ice Cream Capitol of the World, you can enjoy some good old times at the 35th National Old-Time Country Bluegrass Music Festival. The largest event of its kind, the festival features music on 10 stages, a Tipi village, arts and crafts, dancing, a Pioneer Exposition and workshops on everything from playing the harmonica to clogging. And, of course, there’s food including the ice cream for which Le Mars is famous. (Since 1913, Le Mars has been home to Wells’ Dairy, maker of Blue Bunny Ice Cream and other frozen novelties, the largest ice cream factory in the world.) The Old-Time Country Bluegrass Music Festival runs from August 30 through September 5, 2010 at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds. For information on lodging, including onsite camping, visit www.orgsites.com/ia/oldtimemusic.
So, before you settle back into the every day routine that comes with the shorter days and cooler temperatures of fall, take a last opportunity to enjoy the best that summertime in Iowa has to offer. There’s enough food, fun and festivity to get you through the colder months ahead!