The wait is over to enjoy hot beef sundaes, pork chops on a stick, turkey legs and more fair favorites.

After COVID claimed the 2020 Iowa State Fair, most are ready to return to the midway and the grandstand and the barns, where they will see not only familiar sites and faces, but changes and improvements as well.

If it’s beef you’re after, you’re in luck. The Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters offers even more reason to visit the eatery than before, beginning with Breakfast with Bob Quinn every weekend day. 

You can sample Iowa’s Best Burgers with both the 2020 and 2021 winners grilling up their specialties. Bambino's, the 2021 winner, will be on hand Friday, Aug. 13. Twisted Tail Steakhouse & Saloon, the 2020 winner, will be grilling Friday, Aug. 20. 

The Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters is known for its hot beef sundaes, and fairgoers will have the opportunity to put their original spin on the fair favorite. The hot beef sundae cooking contest will be held Monday, Aug. 16 at the Elwell Family Food Center. Entries will be judged on taste, creativity and appearance. Any cut of beef or combination of ingredients may be used as long as it is made from 100% real beef. Pre-registration is required.

The Iowa Beef Industry Council will also host Fair After Work: Beef, Beer & Bingo on Tuesday, Aug. 17. The fun starts at the new Iowa Craft Beef Tent and ends at the Top of the Vine. In between, participants will fill in their bingo card as they learn about beef cattle breeds, meet an Iowa beef farmer and indulge in samples of both beef and beverage. Special tickets are required, available through fair ticket outlets. Must be 21 to participate. The event runs 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Midwest Dairy will host a similar event on Saturday, Aug. 20 from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fair After Dark – Moos & Brews will take folks through the Boulevard of Dairy Breeds as they take baby calf selfies, learn about butter sculpting and have a boozy milkshake. Again, special tickets are required and limited.

The Iowa Pork Tent, sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association, will mark 40 years as a state fair fixture. 

The venue is a popular spot for politicians to show off their grilling chops and for fairgoers to meet the faces behind the delicious pork being served there. 

To mark the anniversary, there will be souvenir cups (as long as they last) and a display highlighting the tent’s past and future. 

Each day of the fair will offer Throwback Burger Pricing, with the ever-popular pork burger only $2 (the 1980 price) from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Pork burgers were one of the original two menu items; the other was the Iowa Pork Chop.

The Iowa Pork Producers As­­s­ociation serves nearly 90,000 pork meals during the fair at the Iowa Pork Tent and its Chop Shops.

The Iowa Pork Producers Association will also have a presence in the Ag Learning Center, where they have updated the farrowing display. Around 200,000 people go through the center each year, learning about the practices pig farmers employ to take care of sows and baby pigs. An expert will be on hand to answer questions.

New at the Turkey Grill, located east of the Varied industries Building, is the Breakfast Popper. The “breakfast in a meatball” combines turkey, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, onion and green and red peppers. Each serving is five meatballs designed to go with an array of condiments.

Other turkey-eating highlights include griddle sticks, pulled turkey Sandwich, Not Your Momma’s Taco, the turkey tenderloin (at 166 calories, 25 grams of protein and only 1 gram of saturated fat, the Turkey Tenderloin is on the Iowa State Fair Healthy Choices list), and, of course, the iconic Turkey Drumstick.

The Iowa Turkey Federation, through the Turkey Grill, has been dolling out around 11 tons of turkey each year of the fair for 38 years.

All products are from Iowa companies, featuring Iowa raised turkey.

And don’t forget the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Cookout Contest. The grills will line the Grand Concourse on Tuesday, Aug. 17 as county-level winners vie for the top prize in this annual nod to all things grillable in the state of Iowa. 

Queck-Matzie is a freelance from Greenfield.