Farming is Iowa's Masterpiece!

By Kelly Visser, Iowa Food & Family Project

From blue-ribbon-winning livestock to a perfectly sculpted Butter Cow to unique new fair foods, there’s no shortage of creativity at the Iowa State Fair! The iconic 11-day event attracts more than a million people from around the globe and is a salute to the intersection of food, farming and family in Iowa.

As you make plans for this year’s Iowa State Fair, be sure the Iowa Food & Family Project (Iowa FFP) display is at the top of your “must do” list! Join us in the Southeast Atrium of the William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily to see why farming is Iowa’s masterpiece.

You’ll have the chance to pick up a paint brush and leave your mark on a mural comprised of 23,000 paint-by-number spaces! The mural showcases the creativity and collaboration of farming in Iowa and will be brought into full color using soy-based paint.

We’ve invited celebrity guest painters to visit the mural, which include:

  • Governor Kim Reynolds & Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg | Friday, August 9 at 2:30 p.m
  •  Herky and the University of Iowa Cheer Squad | Sunday, August 11 at 1 p.m.
  • Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig & Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Julie Kenney | Monday, August 12 at 1 p.m
  • Chuck Long | Friday, August 16 at 11 a.m.

In addition to the interactive mural, you can put a frame around farming courtesy of a farm-and food-themed photo booth and take-home coloring sheets. There will also be opportunities to win five incredible pieces of agriculture-inspired artwork from a local photographer and artists!

As with all Iowa FFP activities, the annual exhibit gives consumers the opportunity to engage with farmers and learn about the state’s leadership in agriculture.

Follow along with us on Facebook for live updates from the fair.

Featured Iowa State “Fare” Recipe | Italian Grinder Sandwich

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6


  • ½ yellow onion, chopped finely
  •  ½ red bell pepper, chopped finely
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. hot Italian sausage
  • 2 teaspoons pizza seasoning
  • 1-15 oz. can pizza sauce
  • 1 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 6 sturdy brat buns or hoagie buns

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large frying pan, sauté onion, red pepper and garlic for one minute. Add ground beef, Italian sausage and pizza seasoning to onion, peppers and garlic, cook until browned. Remove from heat, set aside.

Line a lightly greased 9x13 pan with 6 sturdy brat buns or hoagie buns, sliced and slightly opened (4 across and two on the side).

Add a scant cup of the meat mixture to the inside of each of the buns.

Layer meat filled buns with ¼ cup pizza sauce and ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese to cover all the sauce, meat and edges of buns.

Bake at 450 degrees F for 12-15 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Remove from oven and serve warm.

Nutrition per serving: 982 Calories, Calories from Fat 517, 57.5g Total Fat, 152.0mg Cholesterol, 1827.3mg Sodium, 61.7g Carbohydrate, 3.6g Dietary Fiber, 51.9g Protein

Iowa State “Fare” Cookbook

Looking for other fair-inspired recipes? Be sure to download our free Iowa State “Fare” Cookbook! The cookbook serves up tried and true recipes created by Cristen Clark, a farmer, award winning-cook and fair aficionado. Download here.