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.

What’s Happening this Fall?

October 21, 2020
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Read the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s fall newsletter to stay up to date. This issue includes a recap of what our organization was able to accomplish this summer. Robin Taylor outlines how we turned lemons into lemonade. “This unique summer has shown us how much we have to appreciate.”

A special shout out to two area businesses that supported the Foundation in unique ways. Community Choice Credit Union donated $5,952.50 to the Blue Ribbon Foundation this summer by selling unique physical distancing Butter Cow shirts. The Aveda Institute Des Moines held a Salon Blue Ribbon Community Fundraising Event in August and donated $1,269 to the Foundation.

The fall newsletter highlights the “No Fair – I Do Care” Benefit Auction and the ongoing “Big Challenges – Bigger Vision” Fundraising Campaign. Thank you to the donors that have supported both of these initiatives.

Staff spend the majority of August and September shipping out Iowa State Fair souvenirs! With more than 1000 packages mailed, Fair-lovers all over the country could celebrate their favorite summertime tradition. 2020 ornaments, lapel pins and other collectibles were mailed all across Iowa and 31 other states:

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington DC, Wisconsin

It's never too early to start some holiday shopping. Check out the online State Fair Store to get the Fairgoer in your life the perfect gift.

The recently renovated Bruce L. Rastetter 4-H Building, includes an expansion to the west. The space holds new classrooms and an atrium. More like a piece of art, the new "Spirit of Generosity" donor wall panel is a representation of Iowa, demonstrating how independent pieces come together to create our great state and its Fair. Give a donation to recognize the 4-H’er in your Fair family.

The newsletter also includes information on our upcoming internships, planned giving opportunities and a history on the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s relationship with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Thank you for reading the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s quarterly newsletter.

 

AmazonSmile

October 12, 2020
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Do you shop on Amazon?

Here is your opportunity to get great shopping deals AND support the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation.

While you shop Amazon Prime Day deals on October 13 and 14, simply use AmazonSmile and AmazonSmile will donate to the Blue Ribbon Foundation.

When you shop using AmazonSmile, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added benefit that AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. You can choose from over one million organizations to support, including the Blue Ribbon Foundation.

To date, AmazonSmile has donated more than $200 million to charities worldwide. Thank you for supporting our mission while you shop!

 

20th Edition Cookbook

October 6, 2020
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The Iowa State Fair is proud to offer the 20th collection of ribbon-winning Iowa State Fair recipes in the newest cookbook. Inside, you’ll find classic family favorite comfort food and tasty treats, as well as new and exciting flavors. The Iowa State Fair Marketing Department puts the cookbook together and the Blue Ribbon Foundation sells the book as a fundraiser.

The Iowa State Fair published its first cookbook in 1983, and since then, the cookbook’s purpose has remained the same: to showcase the Iowa State Fair Food Department and its talented exhibitors. The Iowa State Fair Food Department is one of the largest in the county, therefore raising the bar for the quality of the recipes selected for the newest cookbook.

The collection of recipes is among the very best from the 2018 and 2019 food competitions and ranges from main dishes and appetizers to breads and desserts and everything in between. While edited for clarity, in general, these recipes are presented as submitted for judging. Even though they have not been tested in a laboratory kitchen, they have been judged and deemed worthy of a first-place ribbon at the Iowa State Fair.

The Iowa State Fair applauds all exhibitors for their time, effort and dedication to perfecting their entries: they truly are what make the food department the best.

Do you have a previous cookbook in your kitchen cabinet? The cookbook covers over the years have changed but the quality remains the same. Here are some recipes that sound interesting, yet delicious:

  • Seafood Empanadas
  • Roasted Corn and Crab Soup
  • Wood-Fired Charcuterie Pie
  • Italian Beer Bread
  • Smoked Maple Bacon Cheesecake
  • Tangy Lemon Snowballs
  • Fruit and Veggie Popsicles 

Check out these recipes and more! Order your copy of the 20th edition Iowa State Fair cookbook.

 

Cookie Crazy

September 28, 2020
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Did you visit the Iowa State Fair’s fall Taste of the Fair event this past weekend? Fair food lovers grabbed chocolate chip cookies, corn dogs, funnel cakes, cheese curds and more. The next two Taste of the Fair events are scheduled for October 2-4 and October 9-11 on the Grand Concourse on the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

This past weekend, roughly 20 vendors were spaced out along Grand Avenue for walk-up orders. You could choose to enjoy the foods at a safe distance or take them home. 

If you haven’t traveled to the Fairgrounds since last year – there is a new addition to Grand Avenue. The Barksdale’s State Fair Cookie Factory will be serving chocolate chip cookies by the cup or bucket for the next two weekends.

Barksdale’s cookies have become synonymous with the Iowa State Fair. Each August, thousands of families get in line to get their cup of warm, fresh chocolate chip cookies. Two million ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies are sold each Fair. Are you one of the Fairgoers that buys a bucket full?  23,000 buckets were sold in 2019! 

The Blue Ribbon Foundation is still so excited about the new cookie adventure; we have gone a little cookie crazy! This year we have a cookie lapel pin, cookie ornament, and cookie socks all available for sale. Check out the online State Fair Store

The Blue Ribbon Foundation will also have our merchandise trailer set up in front of the Administration Building stocked full of your favorite Iowa State Fair souvenirs. We’ll see you next weekend!

 

 

Spirit of Generosity

September 11, 2020
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The traditions of the Iowa State Fair are deeply rooted in the spirit of Iowa. From displaying the best in agriculture, providing world-class entertainment and bringing people together in celebration - the Iowa State Fair inspires hard work, creativity and pride.

The Iowa State Fair’s ability to attract people from all backgrounds and encourage youth involvement is at the heart of our Fair’s success. The Fair is proud to play a role in helping youth develop not only their knowledge but also their character. It takes hard work and dedication to see a project evolve from an idea to a Fair entry, just as it takes hard work, leadership and character to build a business, a community and a nation.

The “Spirit of Generosity” giving program is designed to honor the character and generous spirit of Iowans. One special Iowan we are honored to highlight is the late Mr. Richard Jacobson.

Richard “Dick” Jacobson was a true philanthropist, eager to give of his time, talent and resources to help others. Raised in Belmond, Iowa, Dick grew up knowing the value of hard work and drive. After college, service in the Army and a few years in business, Dick founded Jacobson Warehouse Company in 1968 with two employees. His hard work, leadership and creativity built his company into a business with national impact recognized for excellence in customer service and employee satisfaction.

A long-time Fairgoer, Dick epitomized what has made the Iowa State Fair the best in the nation. Since 1854, our Fair has helped grow leaders by bringing people together in competition, inspiring all to raise the bar while having fun. Dick’s generosity across the state is well known and his support of the Iowa State Fair through the Richard O. Jacobson Foundation has changed the landscape of our Fairgrounds forever.

“It’s all about changing lives“, he explained, and helping people find their path. The Iowa State Fair is fortunate that he cared deeply about Iowa’s grand agricultural tradition. His gift allows us to continue preserving the history of the Iowa State Fair, while improving the grounds and facilities for future generations.

The Blue Ribbon Foundation invites you to continue Dick’s spirit of generosity and help preserve the value the Iowa State Fair brings to the people of Iowa.  Located in the west atrium of the Bruce L. Rastetter 4-H Exhibits Building, the “Spirit of Generosity” panel is a representation of Iowa, demonstrating how independent pieces come together to create our great state and its Fair.

Recognize the hard work of your 4-H or FFA member, commemorate your family’s tradition of camping, celebrate your competitive entry blue ribbon or the excitement of your first visit to our classic Fair. With six suggested giving levels starting at $100, each donation will be recognized on the panel. You can give your donation online.

 

Spirit of Generosity Donor Wall:

 

John Putney, former Blue Ribbon Foundation Executive Director, and Dick Jacobson pictured at the construction site for the Jacobson Exhibition Center built in 2010.

 

Summer Recap

September 8, 2020
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September is usually a whirlwind of clean up and highlighting our favorite Iowa State Fair moments. Like all of 2020, this September looks different. The Blue Ribbon Foundation staff has stayed busy this summer but not with our normal projects.

The Iowa State Fair hosted the Taste of the Fair food events and the Special Edition Livestock Show in July and August. As part of the State Fair team, the Blue Ribbon Foundation staff pulled weeds, worked gates, baked cookies and did whatever else was needed to help make those events happen. A few other highlights from our summer:

Engraved Bricks: Staff placed 150 engraved bricks across the Fairgrounds. Each brick celebrates a special family memory or honors a loved one. The inscriptions are unique and creative. Staff will place more engraved bricks this fall. The deadline to have your brick placed this fall is September 15. You can give a donation for an engraved brick online.

Merchandise: During the Iowa State Fair, the Blue Ribbon Foundation sells official Iowa State Fair souvenirs at five different booths across the Fairgrounds. This year, we sold everything online. We’ve been busy organizing merchandise orders, packaging items, and creating shipping labels. More than 850 orders have been shipped since August 1. We still have about 200 orders left to ship. (The new chocolate chip cookie bucket ornaments are delayed. We should have them in two weeks.) You can still purchase merchandise. Check out the online State Fair Store.

“No Fair – I Do Care” Benefit Auction: Without the Corndog Kickoff, staff planned the first virtual benefit auction. Thank you to the donors that gave items for the auction and to the volunteers that helped get everything organized. The Foundation was overwhelmed with the amount of support. The auction raised $65,560 for Fairgrounds renovations. Whether you won a package or not, your participation and support made a difference. Thank you!

Big Challenges – Bigger Vision Fundraising Campaign: Improvement projects continued throughout the summer. The largest project - the renovation of the 4-H Building is complete and will be used this weekend.  Renovations of the buildings allow them to be used year round. More improvement projects will continue this fall and into next year. We are asking for your support in our “Big Challenges – Bigger Vision” campaign. Please join us in continuing to improve the Iowa State Fairgrounds for the next generation.

The Blue Ribbon Foundation will continue working hard on the 2021 Iowa State Fair, August 12-22 and we can’t wait until we can all be together again.

 

5 ways to support the Blue Ribbon Foundation

August 18, 2020
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Listed are 5 ways you can support the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation this August.

1. Check out the new online benefit auction -  From now until Sunday, August 23 – the Foundation is hosting the “No Fair – I Do Care!" Benefit Auction. To bid, you’ll sign in to the auction 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.

2. Buy an Iowa State Fair T-Shirt - You can order Iowa State Fair apparel through a dedicated Online T-Shirt Store. Select your favorite designs, place your order and get your purchase delivered to your home. The website will remain open for orders through August 28. All t-shirt orders will be shipped separately on a print-to-order service coordinated by our partner, Broken Arrow Wear.

3. Get your favorite Iowa State Fair Souvenir - The traditional collectibles are available for 2020 – charms, pottery piece, ornament, lapel pin, Sticks plaque, cookbook and the Isabel Bloom sculpture. Don’t worry - we also have hats, sweatshirts and socks to fit your apparel needs! These merchandise items will be extra special this year. Start Shopping!

4. Explore a new Partnership - The Aveda Institute Des Moines is holding a #BlueRibbon community event until Saturday, August 22. They are offering discounted services and will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Blue Ribbon Foundation. Stop by for a service or retail, and get a raffle ticket to win a free Hydrafacial!

5. Big Challenges, Bigger Vision - The Iowa State Fair has faced many challenges throughout its history – competing fairs, war, economic hardship, and deteriorating buildings are just a few.  But you, our Fair family, have never given up on the Iowa State Fair; forever encouraging us to continue, to improve, and to think of the future.  In honor of all of those who have helped make our Fair the best in the nation, the Blue Ribbon Foundation is launching the “Big Challenges – Bigger Vision” campaign.

Thank you for supporting the Blue Ribbon Foundation as we raise funds to help preserve and improve the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds.

 

“No Fair – I Do Care!" Benefit Auction - August 13 - 23

August 12, 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 starts 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. 

Online Auction Website: www.NoFairIDoCare.GiveSmart.com

To access the auction from your cell phone, text NoFairIDoCare to 76278

Check out some of the Auction Packages:

 

 

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.

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