Customers line up for corn dogs at the Iowa State Fair in August 2018. The 2020 fair has been suspended due to the coronavirus. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Fans of the Iowa State Fair will have to wait until 2021 for deep-fried Oreos and food on a stick.

“Fairwell for now,” fair organizers posted on the State Fair’s website on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. “We’ll see you next year, Aug. 12-22, 2021.”

Earlier in the day, Governor Kim Reynolds didn’t indicate that the State Fair Board had made a decision, as she announced further loosening of business restrictions in Iowa as of this Friday.

More: Business restrictions relaxed in Iowa

This year’s fair — which has attracted 1 million visitors annually in recent years — was scheduled for Aug. 13-23, featuring grandstand entertainment such as Keith Urban, the Beach Boys and Styx, along with rides, games, the well-known butter cow, competitions and decadent food-on-a-stick.

The website indicated some of the artists had canceled, while others are postponed until 2021.

Fair CEO and manager Gary Slater said social distancing would have posed a challenge as the board tried to devise a way to hold the fair under advice from the Iowa Department of Public Health in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Slater added that surveys indicated attendance would be greatly reduced. The board voted 11-2 to postpone the 2020 fair.

The Iowa State Fair has been canceled only five times since it began in 1854. There wasn’t a state fair in 1898 due to the World’s Fair in Omaha and the Spanish-American War. The fair was also a casualty during World War II from 1942-1945, according to the fair’s website.

See photos from a past Iowa State Fair and the letter from Slater, below:

Dear Fair Friends,

The Iowa State Fair Board today made the difficult decision to postpone the 2020 Iowa State Fair due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The decision was complex and considered a wide array of factors. The Iowa State Fair’s top priority is protecting the health and safety of Fairgoers, staff, volunteers, exhibitors and entertainers. Amid the pandemic, we couldn’t, in good conscience, put on the Fair when we knew access to emergency safety services at the Fair could be limited, public transportation to and from the Fair would not be possible, the constant sanitization of a seemingly infinite amount of high touch surfaces lacked feasibility and social distancing in lines to get your favorite Fair food or walking the Grand Concourse would be difficult.

While we can’t predict what the COVID-19 pandemic will look like in August, we can make educated decisions based on information and guidance available today from health. Waiting any longer to make a decision would have been more potentially damaging to our great Fair partners and our planning.

Not getting together this August at the Iowa State Fair will be disappointing. Our staff, volunteers, entertainers, vendors and sponsors love to come together to put on 11 fantastic days each summer. We know that the Fair isn’t just an event; it’s a way of life for many, including our friends in agriculture and our young exhibitors.

Thank you for your patience in allowing the Iowa State Fair Board, staff and partners the time we needed to thoroughly review our options for the 2020 Iowa State Fair.

And thank you for your unwavering support. We can’t wait to get together again in 2021.

“Fairwell” for now and stay healthy.


Gary Slater- CEO and Fair Manager