DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa State Fair opens its doors Thursday for an 11-day run with classic attractions that are expected to draw a million visitors.
There's food, music and competitions, livestock, rides and the beloved butter cow.
Some visitors say they're drawn to the fair by its unique food, much of which involves fried delicacies on a stick.
Others are there for the friendly competition. More than 7,500 competitions at the fair judge everything from the best cornstalk to the top decorative quilt. There are also nearly 50 special event contests that judge titles like best arm wrestler and best hog caller.
Here are some things to know to help you save money and enjoy the event.
FIND DISCOUNTED TICKETS
If you didn't grab advance tickets before the start of the fair, that's OK. There are other ways to save on that $11 adult ticket and $5 child ticket. If you visit the fair between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, adult tickets are $6 and child tickets are $3. There are other discounts for older fairgoers and people who bring in canned food. Keep track of the schedule for those designated days, among others. And don't forget: Children under 5 always enter the fair for free.
BYPASS THE PARKING HASSLE
There is some parking available at the fairgrounds for $10, and nearby homeowners tend to offer up their properties at a discounted price. But you'll get a better deal if you rely on Des Moines' bus service, also known as DART. It's free to park at three designated DART locations away from the fairgrounds, and round-trip fares are $2 for adults and $1 for seniors, children 6 to 10 and people with disabilities. Younger children ride free. Advance fair tickets get you a discount on the bus fare, too.
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