Our Iowa Heritage: Celebrating The Iowa State Fair.

If it’s August in Iowa – it’s State Fair time! – Sing along….

(P-0255) Welcome to The Iowa State Fair!

The first Iowa State Fair was staged in Fairfield October 25–27, 1854, with a budget of $323.

(C-01481854 – 1954 Iowa State Fair  –  100th Anniversary  Postmarked August 24, 1954 in Fairfield, Iowa. Did you know the world-famous Iowa State Fair actually began in Fairfield?

The Fair was held again in Fairfield in 1855, then for the next several years, moved from town to town, remaining mostly in eastern Iowa. The Fair was held in Muscatine in 1856–1857, Oskaloosa in 1858–1859, Iowa City in 1860–1861, Dubuque in 1862–1863, Burlington in 1864–1866, Clinton in 1867–1868, Keokuk in 1869–1870 and 1874–1875, and Cedar Rapids in 1871–1873 and 1876–1878.

(BH-113) This book of Iowa State Fair vintage postcards is a classic (2006).

Moving to Des Moines…

The Fair moved permanently within the Des Moines city limits in 1878. After the Iowa State Legislature and the City of Des Moines appropriated funds for the Fair in 1886, it moved to its current location at East 30th and East Grand in Des Moines.

(P-0169) Circa 1970’s – Postcard Celebrating our Two State Capitols: Iowa City: 1840 –  1857, Des Moines: 1857 – present.  A three-story brick building served as a temporary Capitol in Des Moines and was in use for 30 years until destroyed by fires. Construction on the new capitol building began in 1871, was dedicated on January 17, 1884, and completed in 1886. This colorful postcard comes from the 1970’s.

The fair was not held in 1898, due to the celebration of the World’s Fair in nearby Omaha, Nebraska, as well as the Spanish–American War, 1942–1945 due to World War II, when the state allowed military personnel to use the grounds as a supply depot, nor 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s 1938 and it’s time to celebrate Iowa’s Territorial 100th Anniversary! 1838-1938… at The Iowa State Fair!

The USPS Iowa Territorial Centennial stamp featuring Old Capitol has its FIRST DAY of ISSUE (August 24, 1938) at the 1938 Iowa State Fair…

(C-0128) 1938 Iowa State Fair Territorial Centennial Celebration.
(C-0068) Iowa Territory 100th Anniversary and The Railway Post Office. The Burlington Railroad offered Iowa State Fair-goers an exhibit with a postal station operating out of a RPO train car. Click here to read more about RPO’s.

Iowa State Fair – 1940’s & 50’s…

(C-0136) Iowa State Fair  – August 29, 1941 – Des Moines, Iowa. The Iowa Territorial stamp continued to be popular into the 1940’s. Here it appears on a cover postmarked at the State Fair in Des Moines in 1941, just about 3 months before WWII began.

Our Iowa State Fair was the setting for the 1933 film State Fair and its 1945 musical adaptation.

(P-0204) 1951 Iowa State Fair. Hey! Speaking of the State Fair, here’s a postcard from the 1951 Fair – postmarked August 31…I was going on two months – probably didn’t make it there!
“Greetings from Iowa” – Postmarked on August 22, 1951.

(P-0176) (P-0177) Greetings from Iowa. Over the years, “Greetings from Iowa” postcards have always been popular. Here’s one from the 1950’s (above), and we love artist David Luebke’s “Greetings from Iowa” design from 1988 (below).

(C-0185) 2015 – Summer Harvest.  In Iowa, there is nothing better than fresh summer produce. Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Tomatoes, and especially Iowa Sweet Corn. The art for these four stamps was inspired by vintage shipping crate labels, seed packets, and catalogs.

And you just can’t go to The Iowa State Fair without enjoying the food!

(P-0207) Finally, let’s end this big State Fair celebration with this Hog Wild postcard from the 1990’s.

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