These are all the construction barriers you should see during Iowa State Fair

DES MOINES, Iowa — About 10 percent of the construction work at the Iowa State Fairgrounds has been completed, and construction signs are up. Yet there is little to be done for the next…

These are all the construction barriers you should see during Iowa State Fair

DES MOINES, Iowa — About 10 percent of the construction work at the Iowa State Fairgrounds has been completed, and construction signs are up. Yet there is little to be done for the next three weeks as they remain in place to protect the exhibit halls and the thousands of people expected to walk through the grounds.

Fair officials say they are providing more signs to protect the buildings and people and plan to move everything into place the third week of June. That means construction traffic is still expected to pick up once people start to return to Des Moines in July.

People will begin flocking to the site in early July as organizers fine-tune plans for the 160th edition of the fair, which begins Aug. 4.

Bob McCoy, public works director, said most of the work to stabilize walls and reclaim land in the popular event parking area is finished and it will take crews another three weeks to finish up work outside the large, rectangular area on the south side of the fairgrounds. But new signs will remain on the sides of buildings and roadways outside the area to deter drivers from driving in the area and trying to take on those jobs that the barricades were meant to protect.

Construction was on hold for the annual opening of the fairgrounds but it has been open to the public for several years because of its popularity. The Iowa State Fair draws about 1.5 million people every year and hundreds of thousands more visit in the summer months for a mix of events that range from 4-H contests to large music concerts.

McCoy said the construction was put on hold as protesters blocked the pavement outside the fairgrounds with a handful of tents while employees at other areas of the facility worked on finishing touches.

The fairgrounds will open to the public at 12 p.m. Wednesday and will remain open from noon to midnight daily during the fair. The exhibit halls will be finished in time for the festival portions of the fair and most of the covered events are already sold out.

The fair has opened on its normal Labor Day Monday for its 162nd season, said Iowa State Fair Director Gary Slater.

Slater said many people make their first or second visit of the year to the fairgrounds, giving fairgoers an opportunity to see all the area has to offer and to get into the groove of what they’re used to. He said the fair’s agricultural heritage plays a large role in the annual summer event, along with numerous homegrown performers.

The Indiana Pacers will return to the fair for the first time since the 2006 season after getting eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The fair will also feature a free concert series featuring Tedeschi Trucks Band, the Black Keys, Vance Joy and OneRepublic.

Slater said the fair’s long-term goals include making sure it’s successful year after year and maintaining a strong partnership with Des Moines. He said Iowa’s largest city has helped grow the fairgrounds over the years, even as construction activity has increased.

“We think it’s been a very positive partnership,” Slater said. “It’s really going to improve the visitor experience when we open in July.”

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