State inspectors to examine concession games, food vendors at Iowa State Fair

DES MOINES — Staff from the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) will be onsite to conduct inspections of Iowa State Fair  concession games and food vendors this week. 

Beginning at 1 p.m. on Aug. 8, Social and Charitable Gambling Unit personnel will check the amusement concession games to make sure they are appropriately licensed and that the games are conducted in a fair and honest manner. Representatives from the Iowa State Fair and the Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS) will accompany DIA staff on the inspection.

Each year, DIA inspectors conduct checks of all games of skill and chance at the Iowa State Fair. The aim of these inspections is to ensure that an average person could perform under the rules of the games, and that the object of each game is attainable.

"The games should be fair," said DIA Director Larry Johnson. "That doesn't mean every game is winnable. But the results must be attainable by the average person without the assistance of special skills or devices."

Inspectors also make sure that the rules of the games are clearly posted, the maximum base cost to play each game is not more than $5, and that all prizes are awarded in merchandise and not cash, per Iowa law.

Additionally, food safety specialists from DIA’s Food and Consumer Safety Bureau will inspect and license food vendors on Wednesday, Aug. 7, and Thursday, Aug. 8. "The State Fair hosts hundreds of thousands of Iowans and out-of-state guests every year," said Director Johnson. "With more than 200 food vendors available, we need to be certain attendees are safely consuming their favorite fair foods."

DIA’s food safety specialists will be on the fairgrounds throughout the fair to make sure that all food items are prepared and served in accordance with Iowa’s food safety laws. Food inspectors will also respond to food safety concerns expressed by fairgoers. 

The department’s Social and Charitable Gambling Unit is responsible for licensing and regulating all amusement concession games, as well as bingo operations, raffles, and registered amusement devices. DIA’s Food and Consumer Safety Bureau oversees Iowa's food safety inspection program and is responsible for the licensing of more than 24,000 food establishments and food processing plants statewide.