June 15 is the day that's been designated for an announcement about the 2020 Iowa State Fair. Will there be one? If there is, how different will it be compared to the typical fair? How many will attend a fair that usually sees a million-plus people walk through the gates in its 11 days? If there isn't a fair, it will be the sixth time it has happened.

The first Iowa State Fair was held in late October of 1854, and it was just three days. In the 160-plus years since the fair has turned into one of the biggest and best in the entire nation. However, there have been a few times the fair wasn't held. Here's a look back at those five years, and what caused the fair's cancellation.


There were two factors that year that resulted in the cancellation of the Iowa State Fair. One was the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in Omaha, Nebraska. The Iowa State Fair had been held five years earlier, despite the World's Fair in Chicago, Illinois. The 1893 Iowa State Fair lost $25,000, according to the Iowa State Fair website. In 1898, the fair didn't take any chances of a repeat. The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, also known as the Omaha World's Fair, drew more than 2.5 million people over its incredible five months, from June 1 to October 31, 1898.

The amazing-looking buildings that were made for the event were only intended to last for a short time. There was no competing with this event. This is a great look back:

Trans-Mississippi International Exposition in Omaha, Nebraska in 1898

The Spanish-American War was also being waged in 1898. The military used some of the fair's buildings, according to the Iowa State Fair. Spain had declared war on the U.S. in April and the war wouldn't officially end until the Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10, 1898.

Spanish-American War of 1898

1942 through 1945

The Iowa State Fair was canceled four consecutive years in the 1940s, from 1942 through 1945, the final four years of World War II. The Iowa State Fair archive says in 1942, fireproof buildings on the grounds were used by the Army Air Corps for a supply depot.

The photos below show World War II events from each August that the fair was canceled. August 15, 1945, History says Japan agreed to the Potsdam Declaration. On September 2, their formal surrender was accepted and World War II was officially over.

Those are the only five times the Iowa State Fair has ever been canceled. Will the COVID-19 pandemic force the sixth cancellation? We'll find out on June 15.

World War II Photos From 1942 through 1945

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