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Festivals and family events in Iowa

Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, trav...

Get festive!

Iowa has no shortage of festivals and family events. This great state keeps things hopping all year long with events you’ll love. Here are our top picks -- be sure to check them out!

Tulip Time, Iowa

Tulip Time

The Dutch heritage of Pella is evident all year long, especially in the architecture, but the town really embraces that heritage at Tulip Time. Most of the town wears Dutch clothing, and the streets are filled with authentic Dutch food, music and more. There are six parades during the three-day event, and the lighted parades each night are beautiful. Sit on the curb or watch from the sidewalk for free, or pay a small fee to sit in the grandstands. Tulip Time takes place each year in early May.

Location: 507 Franklin St., Pella, Iowa 50219
Phone: 641-628-4311
Rates: Free admission and parking
Websitehttp://www.pellatuliptime.com/

Des Moines Art Festival

The Des Moines Art Festival is three June days packed with entertainment. Nearly 200 artists with their work on display (and for sale) are on location, and they've all had to pass a juried selection process -- so they're the best of the best. Continuous musical entertainment can be heard and enjoyed throughout the festival, and you'll find over 20 great food vendors to choose from.

Location: 1200 Locust St., Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Phone: 515-286-4949
Rates: Free
Website: http://desmoinesartsfestival.org/

Covered Bridge Festival

Even if you haven't read the novel, you've probably heard of The Bridges of Madison County. Thanks to the popularity of that novel, you can attend an entire festival dedicated to those covered bridges and their history. This festival, which takes place every October, brings out most of Madison County's residents -- along with people from all over the state. You'll enjoy continuous entertainment and demonstrations of how things were done "the old-fashioned way." You'll also find tons of food, a quilt sale and a car show. If you really want to know all about the bridges, take the bus tour during the event.

Location: Downtown Winterset, Iowa
Phone: 515-468-8500
Rates: Free
Website: http://madisoncounty.com/index.php?page=covered-bridge-festival

Iowa State Fair

The slogan for this fair is "Nothing Compares," and that's absolutely right. The Iowa State Fair is an internationally acclaimed event, and draws visitors from across the country. The best way to describe this fair is huge -- they have the largest livestock department, food vendor department and craft show in the United States. Plus, more than 600 exhibitors and vendors are all crammed into the state's massive fairgrounds.

Location: 3000 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa 50317
Phone:  515-262-3111
Rates: $4 to $10, Children under 5 are free
Website: http://www.iowastatefair.org/

Iowa Renaissance Festival

Amana Park goes Celtic every Memorial Day weekend for the Iowa Renaissance Festival. Costumed performers roam the grounds, and artisans and merchants set up all around. Over 50 tent pavilions, a beer garden and a royal banquet hall are there for your enjoyment. Make sure to stop by the horseback jousting tournament and the craft bazaar for sights you won't see anywhere else.

Location: 27th Ave. and J St., Middle Amana, Iowa 52203
Phone: 641-357-5177
Rates: $6 to $14 -- two-day pass is $15, three-day pass is $18
Website: http://www.festint.com/iowarenfest/index.shtml

Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival

Forget celebrating on just the Fourth of July. Cedar Rapids celebrates our country's freedom for the two weeks before Independence Day, finishing with a huge celebration to end the festivities on the actual holiday. The celebration is spread out all across Cedar Rapids -- check the website for a full schedule. Some of the more popular events include a hot-air balloon show, a firefighter combat challenge, a parade and several concerts.

Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa (various locations)
Phone: 319-365-8313
Rates: Various rates, depending on the event
Website: http://www.freedomfestival.com/Freedom-Festival/Default.aspx

Image courtesy of Pella Tulip Time
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