For more than 40 years,
the Iowa Pork Tent has been a must-visit destination during the Iowa State
Fair. Tens of thousands of fairgoers stop by every year to taste some delicious
Iowa pork. It’s also a great place for pig farmers from across the state to
visit with colleagues and spread the word about the pork industry with
The tradition started back
in 1981. Although Iowa was the leading pork production state in the
country, there were no food stands offering pork on the fairgrounds. Pig
farmers who led the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) decided to change
The original Iowa Pork
Tent at the State Fair was a large circus tent. In 1987, the tent was retired
in favor of a permanent building. In 2023, a new building was erected
that provided more modern amenities. Through it all, the location remained the
same. So did the name. Although it has solid walls, it is still known as
the Iowa Pork Tent.
Visitors come back for the
hospitality, and of course, the delicious food. The sheer volume of pork
provided to fairgoers is staggering. During the course of more than 40 years, IPPA
has provided more than 2.5 million pork servings at the Iowa State Fair. On a
typical day, an Iowa State Fair patron receives a pork product approximately
every 4 seconds.
Pork Leads the Way for
Food on a Stick
One of the most popular
food items at the state fair is the Pork Chop on a Stick™. But it wasn’t always
that way. “We almost had to beg people to buy them the first year (1999),” said
Dave Moody, a Collins, Iowa pig farmer that has volunteered at the tent for
many years. “I think we sold around 6,000 that year.”
The Pork Chop on a Stick is
a 9-11 ounce, “frenched rib pork chop”. This is a rib pork chop with the rib
bone left on, so that it can work as a handle or “stick”. You eat the Pork Chop
on a Stick with your hands and a napkin – no utensils.
Sales doubled to around
12,000 the next year. “That was kind of the start of people wanting to walk
around the fair with grab-and-go food items,” he said. In an independent poll
before the 2023 Iowa State Fair, the Pork Chop on a Stick was voted the favorite
food of the fair.
Recognize the Power of Pork
Besides the food, the Iowa
Pork Tent has become THE place to be seen for U.S. presidential hopefuls the
summer before Iowa’s famous January caucuses take place.
It’s also a favorite spot
for Iowa celebrities to serve as an honorary “Chef of the Day.” Each year, that
includes Iowa’s governor and congressional delegation, other political
candidates, and university football and basketball coaches.
We hope you stop by during
your next trip to the Iowa State Fair.