DNR 2021 state fair

Visit the DNR Building during the state fair and vote for your favorite outdoor activity! Your vote counts as an entry into a drawing for dozens of great prizes!


The DNR fair building is located near the west entrance of the fairgrounds and just to the west of the grandstand along the grand concourse. Download the Iowa State Fair's Map, DNR Building at G4

THURSDAY, AUGUST 12
how do you fish

How to Begin

  • Ask a friend or family member to take you! Check out “everything you need to start fishing” at Takemefishing.org.
  • Make sure your rods, reels and gear are ready to go. Borrow equipment if you do not have any. Get tips for gear at iowadnr.gov/readytofish.
  • Buy your fishing license on the DNR website or from a license vendor. Download the mobile app Go Outdoors IA from the Apple Store or Google Play for easy access to your fishing license on your smartphone.

Where to Go

  • Pick your perfect fishing spot at iowadnr.gov/Fishing. Find hundreds of ponds and lakes, along with thousands of miles of rivers to explore.
  • Ready to “Fish Local?” Discover dozens of nearby stocked lakes and ponds in parks and along trails on an interactive map at www.iowadnr.gov/fishlocal.
  • Check out the spot you plan to fish before your trip. Use the Fishing Atlas to zoom and learn more about your chosen site’s amenities like restrooms, shoreline access, picnic areas and camping.

Ready for the Next Level?

  • Explore northeast Iowa’s trout streams. Plan your Iowa trout fishing adventure at iowadnr.gov/trout.
  • Try a new popular fishing technique like fly fishing, kayak fishing, bow fishing or ice fishing.
  • Join a fishing social media group. The DNR’s Master Angler program celebrates angler success at catching a quality-sized fish species with a certificate for each fish species caught that meets program criteria. Find out more at iowadnr.gov/Fishing/Master-Angler-First-Fish.


Thursday, August 12

11:00 Basic Knot Tying (Hands-on Program)
1:00 Cleaning & Cooking Your Catch
3:00 Fish Local: Discover Places to Fish Close To You

FRIDAY, AUGUST 13
how do you Watch

How to Begin

  • Birds are everywhere. Walk, hike or sit in different natural areas or your backyard and observe. Be attentive with eyes and ears to locate bird species. Birding takes practice. Open your senses and sharpen your observation skills. Scan places that birds can perch such as dead branches, tree tops or fence posts. Look high and also look at or near the ground. Be alert for movement. Bird calls and sounds can also alert you to their location.
  • Birding Basics. A field guide book, website or smartphone app can help identify birds. (allaboutbirds.org is a great resource).
  • A pair of binoculars will help you see birds up close to look for markings to aid in naming the species.
  • Keep going. After scanning and observing, move to a new location to cover more ground. When you find a likely space, repeat the observation process to scan, listen and look for perching and other locations birds might be. Don’t forget to scan the open sky for soaring hawks, eagles and birds feeding on insects. Observing during early mornings and evenings can also help you see different species.

Where to Go

  • Bird Bonanza. Birds are everywhere, but state wildlife management areas, national wildlife refuges, state parks, forests and water bodies are superb places to look. Especially good are areas with a mix of forests, prairie, oak savannah and waters.
  • Important Bird and Conservation Areas. Find lists of Iowa Important Bird Areas at iowaaudubon.org --these locales have premier, ideal birding habitat and attract several hundred different bird species! Search “bird conservation areas” at iowadnr.gov to find two dozen sites for stellar bird viewing, maps and bird checklists for each location.

Up Your Skills

  • Bird Identification. Head out with experienced birders to learn tricks and tips to find and identify more birds. Check with county conservation boards, Iowa Audubon, Iowa Ornithologists’ Union and other groups for birding events and activities. Meeting and talking with other birders in the field can really up your skills.
  • Study Online! Learn online with birding tips, information about species and behaviors and take online classes to identify birds by sight and even by their songs and calls alone! A superb resource is allaboutbirds.org. They also offer the free bird ID app, called Merlin.


Friday, August 13

11:00 Bats of Iowa & How to Build a Bat Box
1:00 Live Animals: Spiders & Snakes - Meet Our Creepiest Critters
3:00 Outdoor Photography - Secrets from a Pro

SATURDAY, AUGUST 21

11:00 Live Animals: Swans in Iowa
1:00 Live Animals: Bald Eagle - Meet our majestic national bird
3:00 Live Animals: Reptiles & Amphibians - Hurry for Herps

SATURDAY, AUGUST 14
how do you Target

How to Begin

  • If you are new to shooting sports, ask a friend or family member to introduce you to firearms safety, archery or to take you to a shooting range.
  • Visit a local shooting range! Some have firearms for rent and offer beginner classes; some classes may especially target women, youth or other groups.
  • Take a class, such as Hunter Education, through the Iowa DNR. Find more at iowadnr.gov/shootingsports.

Where to Go

  • Find an Iowa shooting range near you iowadnr.gov/ranges.
  • Visit more than one range – each offers diverse amenities and experiences such as shotgun, rifle, pistol, and archery.
  • Iowa has several indoor and outdoor ranges; some are open to the public and others may be privately owned. Call or look up website details before you go. Range staff are happy to help answer questions!

Ready for the Next Level?

  • Join a team. Youth Shooting Programs such as NASP, SCTP, and SASP offer an opportunity to learn and to compete.
  • Find an advanced class or coaching class. Most ranges teach both beginner and advanced skills.
  • Practice. Accuracy in the shooting sports is a perishable skill, and getting better requires ongoing practice. Many ranges offer annual passes or memberships.
  • Buy your hunting license – take your shooting skills to the field and enjoy Iowa’s outdoors.

Saturday, August 14

11:00 Firearms Safety in the Home, at the Range & in the Field
1:00 Intro to Shooting Sports: How to Get Started & Where to Go
3:00 Effective Wingshooting: Ways to Improve your Wingshooting Skills


SUNDAY, AUGUST 15
how do you Env

How to Begin

  • Walk, bike or take public transit whenever possible. You’ll not only cut down on harmful air pollutants, you’ll burn calories and increase your stamina.
  • Remember to recycle. Anytime. Anywhere. No matter where you are, recycling is all around!
  • Mulch grass and leaves when you mow your lawn, returning nutrients to boost soil health. Healthy soil keeps your grass green, strong and able to soak up rainwater.

Where to Go

  • Drive less. Keep the car tuned up. Go easy on the foot feed. And, when in line with your car—turn it off. Don’t idle. Track your carbon footprint and see how your actions improve air quality. Save $$$.
  • Where does your recycling go? Remember to use a cart, container, bin or drop-off and join the recycling party. Make your yard into a sponge. Manage stormwater runoff from roofs and pavement. Iowa has several programs to help residents create a rainscape to hold rainfall runoff in place, letting it infiltrate into the soil. Learn more at iowastormwater.org/rainscaping/

Ready for the Next Level?

  • Choose alternatives to burning leaves and trash. Wood and leaf smoke may smell good, but smoke is unhealthy. Choose low tech or high impact to turn yard waste into compost—enriching your soil. Get started with composting fact sheets. If you must burn, burn wise epa.gov/burnwise.
  • Celebrate your recycling! Take a recycling selfie and post IAmARecycler to your social media. Tag us @IowaDNR and use #IAmARecycler.
  • Put in a raingarden to go above and beyond for those who want to infiltrate rainwater on their property. These gardens can be planned to handle the majority of rainstorms and have water-loving plants that look great, too!

Sunday, August 15

11:00 Lawn Conservation Practices - Tips to Care for Your Yard & Conserve/Protect Water
1:00 Rocky Recycler - Hands-on Upcycling Activities
3:00 Geology Rocks in Iowa

MONDAY, AUGUST 16
how do you Boat

How to Begin

  • Go with experienced paddlers and groups. Never go paddling alone. Find more paddling safety tips at iowadnr.gov/howtopaddle
  • Let a friend or loved one know where you are going and when you are expected to return.
  • Always wear a life jacket no matter your age or swimming ability. Iowa law requires life jackets on every watercraft, whether it’s a motorized boat, jet ski, kayak, canoe, or even a paddleboard. Follow all boating regulations and rules, including registering your vessel. Learn more at www.boat-ed.com/iowa/handbook/.

Where to Go

  • Iowa has a variety of rivers, creeks, and lakes offering a number of different types of experiences for the beginner to the expert paddler. Learn more about the 18,000 miles of navigable streams at iowadnr.gov/wheretopaddle
  • Check our Interactive Paddling Map to locate low-head dams and other potential river hazards like “strainers.”
  • Download pocket-sized brochures for a dozen water trails at iowadnr.gov/watertrailmaps.

Ready for the Next Level?

    Take a paddling or boating safety course. Find class options at https://www.iowadnr.gov/things-to-do/boating/boater-education.
  • Join a paddling social media group. Meet other paddlers, join groups on various outings and even lead your own trips. Stay connected and plug into a paddling group near you!
  • Try Kayak fishing. There’s a unique angling challenge around each bend. Make sure you buy a fishing license.


Monday, August 16

11:00 Dam Safety - How to Stay Safe
1:00 Paddling 101 - Tips and Tricks for Beginner Paddling Sports
3:00 Life Jacket Safety: What do do When Things go Bad (Conservation Officer Panel)


TUESDAY, AUGUST 17
how do you Camp

How to Begin

  • Start in your backyard. Try out a new tent, sleeping bags and other camping gear where you’re most comfortable. For your first camping trip, stay in a campground within easy driving distance.
  • Choose a campground for your first trip that’s within easy driving distance. Find a thorough checklist to organize your gear on the DNR’s website under Things to Do: Camping.
  • Take a class. Learn cooking, camping and other outdoor skills from experts or by finding camping blogs online. Go to the DNR website for ideas, or visit a local camping gear retailer, which offer beginner and advanced classes.

Where to Go

  • Plan ahead. Research campgrounds online to match your interests, such as playgrounds, lakes, hiking trails, etc. Also reserve in advance so you get a spot since many popular campgrounds fill up quickly.
  • Explore Iowa state parks and forests for some of the most beautiful and iconic outdoor spots in the state. Plan your trip and reserve a campsite at iowadnr.gov/stateparks. Find hundreds of county park campgrounds in Iowa’s 99 counties. Visit mycountyparks.com

Ready for the Next Level?

  • Move from a Tent to a Vehicle like car camping or an RV. A teardrop camper is easy for many people to move easily and take anywhere, offering a comfortable night’s sleep and easy cooking/dining amenities.
  • Ready to rough it? Backcountry camp in Iowa’s state forests, with hike-in campsites along trails. Find out more about Iowa state forests on the DNR website.
  • Combine camping with another favorite activity. Hammock camping, Bike-and-camp, kayak-and-camp are all becoming popular options in Iowa. Plan your trips and follow safety rules and guidelines for a great time.

Tuesday, August 17

11:00 Outdoor Cooking - From Simple "On a Stick" to Dutch Oven Cooking
1:00 Setting up a Campsite (Tips & Hacks)
3:00 Secrets of Iowa State Parks with Ledges Park Manager Andy Bartlett


WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18
how do you Yard

How to Begin

  • Look for flowers and plants that provide shelter and food for wildlife while also creating a relaxing space to enjoy the outdoors behind a living privacy fence of shrubs or trees.
  • Set up a bird feeding station to attract colorful songbirds year-round. Order a bird guide to learn about your new neighbors!
  • Make your yard an oasis with shade in the summer by planting trees on the north and west sides of your house - with a side benefit of lowered heating and cooling bills.
  • Install rain barrels to catch rainwater for watering your new plants and trees, giving them naturally soft water, reducing runoff to storm sewers and saving on your water bills.

Where to Go

  • Try to purchase trees, shrubs, plants and flowers native to Iowa whenever possible.
  • Go window shopping for new trees and plants in community gardens and arboretums to better see what a new plant or tree would look like in your yard.
  • Look to local nurseries, Master Gardener clubs, and Extension offices for advice in choosing and caring for native plants.
  • Learn more about choosing the right tree for your yard and caring for it at iowadnr.gov/UrbanForestry Hire a professional - called an Arborist - for caring for larger trees: treesaregood.org/FindAnArborist.

Ready for the Next Level?

  • Learn how to properly prune your trees as they grow older.
  • Plant with a purpose: to help pollinators, reduce your home energy use, beautify your yard, add new tree and plant species to the neighborhood, or provide a home for wildlife.
  • Step up your plantings and build a pollinator garden to attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees, a rain garden to help absorb and use rain before it runs off into storm sewers, or other native plantings that help improve your yard’s soil quality.
  • Build a project, like a Leopold bench or bluebird house, using urban lumber. Several sawmills specialize in urban wood and can even mill lumber from trees in your own yard!

WEDNESDAY, AUG 18

11:00 Tree Planting - How To's, What to Choose & Where to Plant
1:00 How to Attract Backyard Birds
3:00 Attracting Pollinators: Make Your Own Seed Balls (Hands-on Activity)

THURSDAY, AUGUST 19
how do you Hunt

How to Begin

  • Check out the DNR’s Learn to Hunt web page, full of resources, tips and helpful videos to get started. iowadnr.gov/learntohunt
  • Ask a friend or family member to take you! Get an Apprentice License and go with a licensed hunter to try hunting prior to education classes.
  • Start small. The easiest, most plentiful hunting opportunities are small game like mourning doves, rabbits and squirrels.

Where to Go

  • Take a hunter education class in-person, online, or a hybrid. Explore your options: iowadnr.gov/huntered
  • Sharpen your skills at an Iowa shooting range. Find one near you: iowadnr.gov/ranges
  • With 400,000+ acres of public hunting land, Iowa has many opportunities to take to the field. Find places near you and an interactive hunting atlas on the DNR website. Also check out the IHAP program, where private landowners allow public hunting access.

Ready for the Next Level?

  • Download the Go Outdoors IA app onto your smartphone from the Apple Store or Google Play – store your license in the app, report your harvest, check out season dates and much more.
  • Try a new species and expand your options. Did you know Iowa’s season with the biggest increase in participants is bow hunting? And with dozens of plentiful species and almost a full year of seasons, you can grow your hunting opportunities. Find advanced skill classes on bow hunting, fur trapping, wing shooting and more: iowadnr.gov/learntohunt
  • Get involved – join a group like Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, or Whitetails Unlimited. These organizations share your interest while investing in habitat and the future of hunting in Iowa. If you are an avid hunter, invite someone new to the sport! An invitation is the number one reason people try to hunt or fish for the first time.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 19

11:00 From Field to Fork: Iowa's Abundant Hunting Opportunities & Delicious Recipes to Enjoy Your Harvest
1:00 Conquer the Call: Tips and Tricks for Improving Game Calling Techniques
3:00 Public Land Hunting: Opportunities & Ethics

FRIDAY, AUGUST 20
how do you Hike

How to Begin

  • Start easy. Get off to a good start by finding trails close to home. Ask a friend to go with you.
  • Bring the right gear. Yes, good, sturdy shoes or boots are a must. Also remember a snack, water, hat and jacket. These basics will help for unplanned weather or a longer-than-expected trail.
  • Make a plan and share it. Be sure people know where you’re heading and how long you’ll be gone. Sometimes cell phone coverage is spotty on trails.

Where to Go

  • Choose a route that takes into consideration distance, your fitness level, time of year and terrain. You can find maps of Iowa hiking trails at iowabytrail.com
  • Iowa state parks and forests have hundreds of miles of trails traversing through woodlands, prairies, along river bluffs, near lakes, through caves and more. Find a park to explore at iowadnr.gov/stateparks
  • Many Iowa retailers offer gear, tips, classes and more. Visit a retailer such as REI, JAX, Scheels, Bass Pro Shops or Active Endeavors to help plan your hiking adventure.

Ready for the Next Level?

  • Tread lightly and help protect natural areas. Carry in and carry out your trash. Stay on trails—going off the path can cause erosion in sensitive areas.
  • Take a class to learn about foraging for wild edibles. Learn plant identification, what’s safe to eat, how to prepare and where to go. Keep in mind, some public areas such as state parks have rules about what you can harvest, so prepare in advance.
  • Backpack in the backcountry. Visit Stephens State Forest, Preparation Canyon or Yellow River State Forest for adventure hikes in secluded natural areas with breathtaking views.


FRIDAY, AUGUST 20

11:00 Family Friendly Hikes: Tips, Tricks & Places to Explore
1:00 Get Lost in Iowa: Where to go to get away from it all
3:00 Edible Exploration: What you need to know to pack, pick & prepare wild edibles on a foraging hike