push hard to finish during the Outhouse
Races. For more information about all
the events, visit http://www.iowastatefair.org.
PHOTO Courtesy of the Iowa STATE Fair
Plenty of events will keep people entertained
during the fair
Every year hundreds of thousands of people
flock to the Iowa State Fair. The internationally
acclaimed fair offers a bevy of entertainment
including concerts, livestock shows, exhibitors,
competitions and plenty of fried food, usually
on a stick. But a big draw to the event is the
more than 45 competitions that take place “testing
the talent, creativity and sheer zaniness” of
Some of the contests include the accordion
contest, ladies nail driving contest, a checkers
tournament, Mr. Legs contest, cow chip throwing
contest, women’s rubber chicken throw, a fiddler’s
challenge and a ladies’ husband calling contest.
With so many options, interested competitors
have plenty to choose from, but a couple events
— the beard growing contest and the outhouse
races — offer a little more of the outlandish
fun the fair embraces.
“When someone takes part in the fair, it’s
an entirely different experience than just walking
though the gates,” said Regina Pirtle, superintendent
of Pioneer Hall.
9th Annual Outhouse Races — Tuesday, Aug. 14
at 2:30 p.m. in the Grand Concourse.
Although the grandstand hosts most of the racing
events, one of the most popular races at the
fair takes place on the Grand Concourse —the
“We were trying to come up with some new events
and I had heard about the outhouse races,” said
Darlene Kretzschmar, coordinator for the outhouse
races. “After doing some research, I thought
they would be a great addition to the fair.”
Teams of four (including one female) must race
the outhouse through an obstacle course before
crossing the finish line. The outhouse must
have a half door, weigh a minimum of 200 pounds
and can only run on manpower. The winner of
the race receives $300 and a golden toilet seat
(second and third place also take home cash
and prizes). Prizes are also given for the Best
Costume and Best House.
“We encourage everyone to get creative and
work hard to create the best house and costumes,”
Fans line the street, which is a main reason
the contest continues.
“There are so many fun contests going on, but
this one is a little different the people love
it,” Kretzschmar said. “I have people specifically
ask me what day the race takes place, so it’s
become one of the most popular contests and
is a lot of fun for both kids and adults.”
Beard Growing Contest — Tuesday, Aug. 14 at
10:30 a.m. Interested participants can register
until 10 a.m. the day of the competition.
As the sport of Bearding continues to gain
popularity across the nation, the Iowa State
Fair has been ahead of the trend, offering a
beard-growing contest for more than 20 years.
And although the contest usually draws between
20 and 30 bearded brethren, there was a time
when they could barely get enough contestants.
“One year we had three people signed up, so
I told the staff to go out and find as many
men with beards on the fairgrounds that they
could and tell them they have to enter,” Pirtle
said. “We ended with a big group and they all
had a good time. So much so that a lot of the
group we pulled off the street has come back
every year since.”
Three years ago, the event added some new categories.
“Originally, we had the longest beard,” Pirtle
said. “But we added the Best Groomed, Most Unique
Beard Design, Most Historic Nature and Best
Beard Design with Costume to the event.”
Although a majority of events involve some
kind of athletics or talent, the beard growers
capitalize on their god-given gift of facial
“Some of the guys grow their beards year round,
but we do have a lot of guys who grow specifically
for the contest,” Pirtle said. “Not only does
the winner get to take home the blue ribbon,
but they also have the pride of knowing they
can grow a pretty good beard.” CV