Finest Fall Festivals in Iowa

By April Pearson

As summer gives way to autumn, Iowa towns transform into beautiful landscapes of red, orange and gold, making them perfect destinations for fall celebrations. From rural revelries to metropolitan merriments, here are some of the most unique, charming, fun fall festivals in Iowa.

Photo credit: Living History Farms

1. Sept. 16 | Apple Fest at Living History Farms, Des Moines
Welcome the arrival of autumn within the historical 1875 town of Walnut Hill during Applefest! See what it’s like to operate the cider press, cook apple butter in a copper kettle and prepare apple pie in the olden days. Don't forget to pick up some apples and other scrumptious apple treats from local food vendors. All these activities are included with your regular admission to Living History Farms.

Photo credit: Osage Chamber of Commerce

2. Sept. 16 | Autumn Artistry, Osage

From one-of-a-kind handcrafted treasures to mouthwatering homemade treats, Autumn Artistry has more than 100 vendors showcasing local art, holiday decorations, rare antiques and delectable cuisine. You’ll also enjoy live music, one of the region's largest car shows, and a complimentary shuttle to and from various picturesque event locations. Admission is free.

Photo Credit: Oskaloosa Herald

3. Sept. 16 | Pioneer Farm Festival, Oskaloosa

With its charming horse-drawn wagon rides, a spelling bee in the one-room schoolhouse and a vintage vehicle parade, the Pioneer Fall Festival also offers an impressive lineup of vendors and exhibits showcasing pioneer life skills. All-day activities include lawn games, a bake sale, kids’ crafts, taffy-making, a petting zoo and more. Admission is $5 for students, $10 for adults, and free for kids under five.

Photo credit: Quad City Arts

4. Sept. 16-17 | Riverssance Festival of Fine Art, Davenport

Experience the pinnacle of fine arts during this two-day event, where renowned artists from across the Midwest take center stage. Taking place in the heart of the Village of East Davenport along the Mississippi River, the Riverssance Festival promises gourmet culinary experiences, wine tastings, shopping and live music — as well as opportunities for kids to explore their creativity. Admission is $5 per day, $8 for the weekend, and free for kids with a paid adult.

Photo credit: Kalona Historical Society

5. Sept. 29-30 | Kalona Fall Festival, Kalona
Originally held as a fundraiser to preserve local historic buildings over 50 years ago, the Kalona Fall Festival provides a fantastic way to experience the magic of fall in small-town Iowa. Unique offerings include an antique dog treadmill demonstration, wagon rides, pony rides, wine tasting, children’s activities and story time. Admission is $8 for individuals over 13, $3 for kids 5-12, and free for kids 4 and under.

Photo Credit: Anamosa Pumpkinfest 
6. Oct. 7 | Anamosa Pumpkinfest, Anamosa
Nestled in the heart of what residents proudly call the "Pumpkin Capital of Iowa," the Anamosa Pumpkinfest epitomizes the spirit of autumn, offering a delightful day out for the whole family. For nearly three decades, Anamosa has been hosting this event, which includes a parade, food and craft vendors, a 5K run, car smash, kids zone and some of the biggest pumpkins you’ve ever seen! Prices vary by activity.

Photo credit: Walnut Antique Show

7. Oct. 7-8 | Walnut Antique Fall Festival, Walnut
The city of Walnut stands as a premier destination for antique enthusiasts throughout the state. Held against the backdrop of autumn's kaleidoscope of colors, the Walnut Antique Fall Festival promises an array of antique dealers and vendors. While you’re there, check out the quaint shops and eateries lining the main street, as well as the murals dotted throughout the community. Admission is free.

Photo credit: Travel Iowa 

8. Oct. 13-15 | Scenic Drive Festival, Keosauqua

As one of Iowa's premier autumn gatherings, the Scenic Drive Festival offers a captivating tour through Van Buren County. Visit historical barns, flea markets, craft shows, bake sales and more along the Historic Hills Scenic Byway during this weekend-long event. No worries if you can’t make the entire drive — each village boasts its own exclusive offering to make each stop a memorable one. Prices vary by activity.    

Photo credit: Osborne Park

9. Oct. 14-15 | Osborne Heritage Days, Elkader

Buffalo chip throwing championship. Honey extraction demonstration. Butter shake contest. It’s Osborne Heritage Days, a tradition that harkens back to Iowa's pioneer times. Enjoy living history displays, craft demonstrations, traditional storytelling and old-fashioned goodies, including caramel apples, pies, buffalo stew, fry bread and the Norwegian delight of lefse. Admission is free.

Photo credit: Madison County Chamber of Commerce

10. Oct. 14-15 | Madison County Covered Bridge Festival, Winterset
The iconic setting of the Bridges of Madison County is the perfect backdrop for a fall festival. This event features guided bus tours of the historic bridges, horse-drawn wagon rides, a Civil War reenactment and a horseshoe tournament. With 150 vendors and demonstrators, you’re sure to find arts and crafts, antiques and treasures, and food and drinks to satisfy your appetite for adventure. Prices vary by activity.