Blue Ribbon Blog

Welcome to the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation’s blog!

We are a non-profit organization with a mission to raise funds for the renovation and preservation of the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds. Since our inception in 1993, the Foundation has raised more than $165 million through individual contributions, state appropriations, in-kind services, and corporate, federal and state grants.

Please follow our blog to learn more about our organization.

2020 ISF Merchandise – Available July 27

July 17, 2020
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The Blue Ribbon Foundation is excited to announce new Iowa State Fair merchandise items will be for sale starting July 27. You can support the Foundation by purchasing souvenirs online in the State Fair Store.

The traditional collectibles will be available for 2020 – charms, pottery piece, ornament, lapel pin, Sticks plaque, cookbook and the Isabel Bloom sculpture. Don’t worry - we’ll have hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts and socks to fit your apparel needs! These merchandise items will be extra special this year. We will also have some exciting new items.

Official Merchandise Sneak Peek – A Children’s Book

Fairfield & Friends: Ribbon Quest

  • Rooted in tradition, the Iowa State Fair embodies character-building competition for all ages.  From cookie decorating to butter sculpting, whistling and big wheel races, follow the adventures of Fairfield, the Iowa State Fair’s mascot, as he tries to win a ribbon. Winning isn’t just about getting ribbons. Fairfield learns much more about being a good friend and trying new things. Read the first in a series of character building adventures.  Fairfield & Friends: Ribbon Quest is a light, easy-to-read lesson in good sportsmanship.

Check out these pictures of how the children’s book was created.

  

No Fair – I Do Care!

July 14, 2020
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The Blue Ribbon Foundation is hosting the “No Fair – I Do Care!" Benefit Auction. Together we will take the bushel of lemons we’ve been handed and make some sweet lemonade in support of renovations and improvements to our beautiful Iowa State Fairgrounds.

The Benefit Auction will be online starting at 10 am Thursday, August 13 and will close on Sunday, August 23 at 10 pm. To bid, you’ll sign in to the auction website and set up your bidding account. You’ll be able to “watch” packages you are interested in and set maximum bids to make the bidding easy. More information will be available on our website as the auction gets closer.

We Need Your Help! Our gracious supporters have donated some wonderful packages but we could always use a few more. If you have an item, gift card, service or experience you’d like to donate, please email Robin at Robin@BlueRibbonFoundation.org. We will be accepting donations until July 31.

We hope you’ll support this worthwhile event! If you have any questions, please email Info@BlueRibbonFoundation.org or call our office: 515-262-3111 Ext. 371

Sneak Peek at some Auction Packages:

 

  • Concert tickets to see Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton, Styx, the Beach Boys and Sam Hunt at the 2021 Iowa State Fair.
  • A camping spot for the duration of the 2021 Iowa State Fair.
  • VIP Parking for a select day at the 2021 Iowa State Fair.
  • A children’s dresser that looks like a fire truck.
  • The 1993 carousel horse and 1994 butter cow lapel pins.
  • A gallery-wrapped image of the 2019 Iowa State Fair sand sculpture and midway taken by Mark Iwig.
  • An Iowa State Fair clock created by Sincerely, Sticks.
  • A tour of Midwest Foods’ production facility in Ankeny plus a delicious supply of the products they produce under the Gino’s Italian Foods and Kramer’s Salsa labels.
  • A hall bench created from a door and chair – a perfect spot to sit and put your shoes on.
  • A delightful selection of pillows made from Iowa State Fair t-shirts.

2020 Iowa State Fair Announcement

June 10, 2020
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Today the Iowa State Fair Board made the difficult decision to postpone the 2020 Iowa State Fair until August 12-22, 2021 due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The decision was complex and involved a wide array of factors. The Iowa State Fair’s top priority is protecting the health and safety of Fairgoers, staff, volunteers, exhibitors and entertainers. Amid the pandemic, we couldn’t in good conscience put on the Fair knowing access to emergency safety services at the Fair could be limited, public transportation to and from the Fair would not be available, the constant sanitation of seemingly infinite high touch surfaces lacked feasibility, and social distancing in lines to get your favorite Fair food or walking the Grand Concourse would be difficult.

While we can’t predict what the COVID-19 pandemic will look in August, we had to make educated decisions based on the currently know information and guidance from health experts. Waiting any longer to make a decision would be more potentially damaging to our great Fair partners and our planning.

Not getting together this August at the Iowa State Fair will be disappointing. Our staff, volunteers, entertainers, vendors and sponsors love to come together to put on 11 fantastic days each summer. We know that the Fair isn’t just an event, it’s a way of life for many, including our friends in agriculture and our young exhibitors.

Thank you for your patience in allowing the Iowa State Fair Board, staff and partners the time we needed to thoroughly review our options for the 2020 Iowa State Fair. And thank you for your unwavering support. We can’t wait to get together again in 2021. Please visit www.IowaStateFair.org for more information on tickets, events, and other questions.

Show Your Support: If you would like to support the Iowa State Fair, you can donate to the Blue Ribbon Foundation. The Foundation has been supporting renovations and improvements for more than 20 years. Your donation is always important, but without the revenue generated during the 2020 Iowa State Fair, your donation now is even more critical. No matter what size, it will be put to good use improving our historic Fairgrounds. We invite you to join a community of generosity and become more involved with the Iowa State Fair you know and love. Donate Now

Corndog Kickoff: The Corndog Kickoff is canceled for 2020. Please save Saturday, July 10, 2021 for the fundraising event that kicks off our Fair season! The Blue Ribbon Foundation will contact supporters that already donated to the 2020 event. In lieu of the Kickoff, the Foundation is exploring other options to bring our Fair friends together, either in person or in spirit, in support of Fairgrounds renovations. Stay tuned for more information via social media and our website.

Iowa State Fair Agricultural Education

June 2, 2020
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Thank you for all you do to support the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation. The Fair is Iowa’s greatest celebration with a salute to the best in agriculture, industry, entertainment and achievement. What sets the Iowa State Fair apart from other events? The incredible agricultural education opportunities.

During each Iowa State Fair, roughly 3,000 4-H and FFA students exhibit their livestock in the cattle, horse, poultry, sheep, and swine barns. Approximately 30,000 children interactively learn about farming at the Little Hands on the Farm exhibit. With almost 600 babies born in the Animal Learning Center each year, families of all ages experience the miracle of life.

Teaching our youth the value of agriculture in Iowa is important; it’s our history and future. The Iowa State Fair is the single largest event in the state of Iowa and one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the country. The Fairgrounds prides itself on offering excellent facilities that showcase all things agriculture.

Please join the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s mission to renovate and preserve the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds. Your investment will ensure the barns, arenas, buildings and exhibit space across the Fairgrounds stay in top-notch condition. Please consider making a donation today. 

 

 

 

P.S. Tell a friend why you support the Blue Ribbon Foundation and help us improve the Iowa State Fairgrounds for future generations.

Project Update

May 26, 2020
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Since its inception in 1993, the Blue Ribbon Foundation has been raising funds to maintain and improve the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds. The Iowa State Fair is a tradition any Iowan can be proud of and the Blue Ribbon Foundation is dedicated to continuing that legacy. Check out the current renovation projects.

4-H Building: Progress continues on the renovation of the 4-H Building. A portion of the south exterior wall was removed, creating space for a new kitchen facility, storage area and loading bays. An expansion to the west will add classroom space, and the interior of the building will be revitalized from top to bottom with new lighting, floors and updated restrooms.

 

Cookie Kitchen: This brand new 4,800 sq. ft. building along Grand Avenue will be the main facility for baking the world famous ”Barksdale’s State Fair Cookies”. Fairgoers will be able to peek inside through large windows to see cookies baking and purchase a fresh cup or bucket.

 

Family Garden: In August, families will experience a new garden north of the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center. Filled with crops, plants, trees and even a tunnel with pole beans, gourds, and other vegetables growing overhead. This unique space will showcase a combination of rural and urban agriculture. 

 

Livestock Pavilion Restroom: During the Fair, the pavilion hosts livestock judging, horse shows, and events like the Governor’s Charity Steer Show. The restroom updates include tiling the walls, installing metallic epoxy flooring, replacing the toilet partitions, adding solid surface sinks, new counters and improving the electrical fixtures.

 

You can be part of the Livestock Pavilion restroom renovation project by joining the T.A.G. Team. It’s a simple concept; Together we can Accomplish our Goals. For a $250 donation, the first 100 donors will be accepted into this unique group. Your name will be listed as a key player in the renovation project and you will receive a commemorative pin to denote your membership in the 2020 T.A.G. Team. We haven’t reached our goal of 100 members yet. The deadline to join is June 1. Join Today.

Thank you to our current 2020 T.A.G. Team members.

 

Buy Your Iowa State Fair T-Shirt

May 19, 2020
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Congratulations to the Iowa State Fair T-Shirt Contest winners!

Rachel Scheel of Ankeny was the creative spirit behind the winning design. She received an Iowa State Fair prize package and will have her t-shirt design sold at the 2020 Iowa State Fair.  Morgan Adams of Arlington placed second and Allissa Johnson of Earlham placed third.

But, with such a positive response to all six designs, we wanted Iowa State Fair fans to have the opportunity to show their love of the Fair by wearing the t-shirt design they voted for.  You can now purchase one (or more) of these shirts and support the Blue Ribbon Foundation's efforts to restore and improve the facilities of the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Order Online Today

Please place all orders by Friday, May 29. All orders will be delivered and shipped directly to you. You can expect to receive your order the 2nd week of June!

 

 

Time to Vote

May 11, 2020
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Thank you to everyone that submitted a design idea to the first Iowa State Fair T-Shirt Contest. The Blue Ribbon Foundation was blown away by the creativity and received 88 awesome t-shirt entries from all across the state. The selection committee made a tough decision and narrowed it down to the top six. Now is the time to vote.

Between now and May 18, please vote for your favorite. The winner will be announced on May 19. The top three vote-getters will receive Iowa State Fair prize packages. VOTE HERE

  • 1st Place - Your shirt design is produced to sell at the Iowa State Fair, 2 t-shirts, 2 gate admission tickets, 2 Fair Value Packs, 2 tickets to the Grandstand concert of your choice, $50 in food coupons and parking for a select day at the Fair
  • 2nd Place - 2 gate admission tickets, $25 in food coupons and parking for a select day at the Fair
  • 3rd Place - 2 gate admission tickets and $25 in food coupons

Again, the winning design will be featured as an official Iowa State Fair t-shirt available for purchase at the Blue Ribbon Foundation's merchandise booths during the Iowa State Fair and online through www.BlueRibbonFoundation.org starting on July 1, 2020. All proceeds benefit the renovation and preservation of the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Thank you for participating in the contest. Stay tuned for the winner.

How Many?

May 5, 2020
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How many days is the Iowa State Fair? 11

How many people visit the Fair each year? More than a million.

Those are easy questions. What about…How many ribbons does the Iowa State Fair Queen pass out in the Livestock Pavilion? How many Fairgoers watch the shows? How many of those Fairgoers use the Pavilion restrooms? Whoa, weird question but I would guess the number is high!

The east Livestock Pavilion restrooms are currently under construction. The Blue Ribbon Foundation is looking for 100 donors to join the 2020 T.A.G. Team to help with this project.

The restrooms located within the building have not been updated in more than 40 years. The only toilet facilities in the area, they are heavily used and in desperate need of renovation to meet modern standards. The updates will bring the restroom facilities into the 21st century, providing a better service to our customers and make cleaning them more efficient for our maintenance crews. 

The updates include tiling the walls, installing metallic epoxy flooring, replacing the toilet partitions, adding solid surface sinks, new counters and improving the electrical fixtures.

You can be part of this renovation project by joining the T.A.G. Team. It’s a simple concept; Together we can Accomplish our Goals. For a $250 donation, the first 100 donors will be accepted into this unique group. Your name will be listed as a key player in the renovation project and you will receive a commemorative pin to denote your membership in the 2020 T.A.G. Team.

We haven’t reached our goal of 100 members yet. The deadline to join is June 1. Join Today

   

Thank you to our current 2020 T.A.G. Team members:

  

T-Shirt Contest Ideas due Friday, May 1

April 24, 2020
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Let’s see your Iowa State Fair creativity! If you've got an awesome idea for a t-shirt design that reflects what we all love about the Iowa State Fair, enter the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s T-Shirt Contest. If your design is chosen for print, it will be for sale as a real merchandise item that Fairgoers all across the state can wear.

Funds generated from the sale of the t-shirt will be directed to renovations and improvements to the historic Fairgrounds. The deadline is quickly approaching; send us your t-shirt design by Friday, May 1.

A selection committee will choose the top five designs. Those designs will be posted on the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation’s website and Facebook page with voting via Facebook “like” or online via our website. Voting will be open from May 11-18. The winner will be announced on May 19.

The top three vote-getters will receive an Iowa State Fair prize package.

  • 1st Place - Your shirt design is produced to sell at the Iowa State Fair, 2 t-shirts, 2 gate admission tickets, 2 Fair Value Packs, 2 tickets to the Grandstand concert of your choice, $50 in food coupons and parking for a select day at the Fair
  • 2nd Place - 2 gate admission tickets, $25 in food coupons and parking for a select day at the Fair
  • 3rd Place - 2 gate admission tickets and $25 in food coupons

 

Entry and Design Guidelines:

 

Good Bones

April 21, 2020
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One of my favorite television shows to binge watch is “Good Bones” on HGTV. It is about a mother-daughter duo renovating houses in Indianapolis.  The pair take some of the nastiest, most rundown houses I have ever seen and turn them into beautiful homes for their neighbors.  The show’s tagline: “Every tragic house deserves a second chance because underneath all that mess – you might find some really good bones.”

This got me thinking about the Iowa State Fairgrounds. I found a blurry map of the Fairgrounds from 1910. You can see Grand Avenue and Rock Island were the main roadways with buildings scattered throughout. As you can imagine, a lot has changed in 100 years since this map. A few key structures stood out to me – the Grandstand, Agricultural Building, Livestock Pavilion, and barns for horses, cattle, sheep, and swine.

I found these same facilities listed on the 1950 and 1999 maps. (If I had easy access to maps of every year, I have a feeling I would find these same structures.) These are the “bones” of the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

For more than 160 years, the Iowa State Fair has grown, reflecting the development and growth of our great state. These historical buildings have housed millions of exhibits, events and people. These structures were built to last but over time, each has needed its own set of maintenance.

Cue the Blue Ribbon Foundation. This is where I imagine the Foundation could have its own television show – highlighting the amazing renovations that have taken place, new projects that are being planned and the generous donors across the country that have stepped up to keep the Fairgrounds in the best condition for the next generation.  (Did I mention the two ladies in the show both have red hair? I think I’m a shoo-in as the host!)

The Iowa State Fair is a tradition any Iowan can be proud of, and the Blue Ribbon Foundation is dedicated to continuing that legacy. We invite you to join a community of generosity and become even more involved with the Fair you know and love. Donate Today.

 
 

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