DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa’s most beloved yearly tradition reached day two on Friday, and there’s reason to believe the first weekend day was the Iowa State Fair’s true kickoff.
Day two is typically when the fair experiences six-digit attendance for the first time, as more than 104,000 people passed through the gates during day two of last year’s fair. Since day one attendance increased from 77,000 in 2021 to more than 82,000 this year, state fair officials believe that trend will continue.
“We’re here to celebrate Iowa and to invite every Iowan into the State Fair,” said Iowa State Fair marketing director Mindy Williamson. “After 2020 and a slower return in 2021, this is amazing.”
The estimated six-digit attendance can be attributed to several factors, including it being the first weekend day of the fair and a high-profile concert by country superstars Brooks & Dunn. However, the first Friday of the fair is also Eastside Night, a tradition in which residents of east Des Moines reunite at the fairgrounds.
While Eastside Night developed a rowdy reputation over the years, some residents such as Gemiere Goodwin believe the tradition is starting to mellow out.
“At this point, it’s not as bad as it used to be,” Goodwin said. “It’s more for the principle of knowing where you are, representing it, and showing love. You’ve got to represent where you’re from and stand on your city.”
The Iowa State Fair continues until August 22.