November 19, 2019
drewnorton's picture

The Blue Ribbon Foundation staff met last week to brainstorm ideas for the 2020 Corndog Kickoff theme. Having a new theme each year allows the Foundation to highlight a special aspect of the Iowa State Fair.

The Corndog Kickoff is our largest fundraising event. When planning, it helps me to break down the event into categories - auction, concessionaires, patrons, etc. Something simple that adds some fun to the night is the centerpiece decorations. As we plan for 2020, let’s look back at the Corndog Kickoff themes and decorations since I started.

2014: “Rock’n Round the Grounds” highlighted the music across the Fairgrounds from the Grandstand, free stage entertainment and everything in between. The miniature custom Iowa State Fair guitar paired with drumsticks and a classic record fit the theme perfectly.


2015: “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” compared the great Iowa State Fair to the holiday season. With wrapped presents and garland trees, we celebrated Christmas in July! Volunteers worked hard shaping wire hangers to form those trees.


2016: “Locally Grown” featured the impressive growing skills on display in the Agriculture Building during the Fair. With vegetables, crops and flowers – the time and talent Iowans dedicate to these plants is top notch and worthy of a blue ribbon. The straw bales looked adorable on the tables but were so messy.


2017: “What A Ride”. Who doesn’t love a classic Fair carnival game? From knocking down baseballs, ring tossing, duck pulling and ping-pong throwing, the Foundation highlighted the Iowa State Fair’s new Thrill Parks with the theme. We also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Foundation as an organization. 


2018: “All Roads Lead to the Iowa State Fair”. People from across the state and across the country travel to Iowa each August to experience the State Fair! With street signs, luggage and license plates - the Foundation created the ultimate summer road trip. Everyone knows the Iowa State Fair is a destination and perfect family vacation.


2019: “Let the Competition Begin” was all about the contests held during the Fair and winning a ribbon. We highlighted horseshoe pitching, marvelous hats, bubble gum blowing, grape stomping, chess, checkers and BINGO. The Iowa State Fair celebrates the competitive spirit in all of us.


It is easy to get caught up in the little details when planning the Corndog Kickoff. When I am stressed or overwhelmed, I remember how fortunate the Blue Ribbon Foundation is to have supporters that love the Iowa State Fair. These people are volunteers, patrons, auction donors, concessionaires, and auction item buyers. They come to the Corndog Kickoff each year to support our mission and future projects that will continue to improve the Fairgrounds. (I have a feeling they would show up with or without the decorations!)

Save the date for the 2020 Corndog Kickoff – Saturday, July 11. The theme is going to be one of my favorites!