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 $150 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.

See you in 25 days!

July 13, 2018
Intern's picture

There’s 25 days until the Iowa State Fair! Make sure you have these 25 items on your Iowa State Fair bucket list! 

1. New Fair Square- Krispy Kokonut made with chocolate and toasted coconut. Don’t let the coconut scare you away- us interns have had our fair share!

2. Add new Iowa State Fair charms to your charm bracelet with a new Iowa State Fair themed charm and a music note.

3. Outhouse Races- On Tuesday, August 14th catch the Blue Ribbon Foundation outhouse racing down Grand Avenue.

4. Thank you to Sandra Freeman Downie for her $1 million donation to the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation so we can continue to make the Iowa State Fair a place Iowan’s can be proud of. 

5. Painting Class- Test out your creative side by painting your favorite Iowa State Fair scene. Sign up here to reserve your spot!

6. More than 100 new bricks were laid over the summer, check them out! If you want one, purchase it here!

7. Take home your very own memorabilia with this hand-crafted pottery plate.

8. Iowan of the Day- Look out for these 10 special people on golf carts and on the Bill Riley Stage every day at 2:00 p.m.

9. Come ready every day to check out the “Day of Fair” sponsors- they will be sure to educate you on their business and/or organization through hands on activities.

10. Our lapel pin will look great on anyone- featuring your favorite Iowa State Fair foods.

11. Isabel Bloom- This perfectly crafted hand-made pig is essential décor for any home. Find it at one of our 5 merchandise locations.

12. Volunteers- The Blue Ribbon Foundation would not function as efficiently without our 500+ dedicated volunteers! Find these people working tirelessly in the red shirts.

13. Relax on a bench- gifted by a generous donor. These can be found all around the Iowa State Fair.

14. Grandstand- Attend one of the eleven nights of entertainment at the NEW Kum and Go Stage with an additional 4,000 seats!

15. Behind every plaque is a story- find the plaques on trees around the Iowa State Fair.

16. An original favorite- make sure you test out again the original and peanut butter fair squares!

17. Bingo on Grand- B4 you get too busy, play a game of B-I-N-G-O for only $1.00 with the chance of winning ½ the total amount collected per game. Held on Wednesday, August 15th from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

18. You can’t leave the Iowa State Fair without purchasing a new Iowa State Fair t-shirt! Find it at many of our merchadise stands. 

19. Iowa State Fair Sticks Plaque commemorates all of the favorite animals that you can find at the Iowa State Fair.

20. The Blue Ribbon Foundation is excited to be a 2018 recipient of the Prairie Meadows Legacy Grant program for a $600,000 contribution.

21. Milking Parlor- The new glass in the milking parlor allows for better visualization of the milking process. Educational and fun!

22. Legislative Day- Run into your representative on Thursday, August 16th at the Iowa State Fair. All Representatives will be recognized during the Iowan of the Day program at 2:00 p.m. on the Anne and Bill Riley Stage. 

23. Wood Carvers Auction- Bid on the wood sculptors’ hard work during the fair at the 2018 Woodcarver’s Auction.

24. Christmas in August- A corndog ornament would look perfect on your Christmas tree. Find it at many of our merchandise locations.

25. Water- Perfect for those hot MOMENTS.

Be sure to share your Iowa State Fair MOMENTS with us by tagging the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation with your pictures on Facebook.  We can’t wait to see the streets filled with people, all enjoying the Iowa State Fair.

-Macy and Savannah 


Continued Success at the 22nd Annual Corndog Kickoff

July 11, 2018
Intern's picture

What a weekend! Doesn’t it feel great when something you’ve been working so hard toward finally comes to fruition? And doesn’t it feel even greater when a multitude of people were there with you, supporting you, enjoying it with you, and helping you through every step of the process? Well, we sure are grateful for every single person who helped make the 22nd Corndog Kickoff a wonderful success!

With about 2,000 attendees, more than 100 night-of volunteers, over 20 food vendors, and countless behind-the-scenes donors, volunteers, and staff, we enjoyed a night full of fabulous foods, lively entertainment, and all sorts of fun! The Blue Ribbon Foundation is humbled to announce that this year’s Kickoff has raised a total of $542,000, raising the event’s grand total to over $6.2 million—all of which goes toward preserving and renovating our Iowa State Fairgrounds! Without all of the generous donations, support, and time given from those people listed above, none of this would be possible.

Some of the highlights from the night include:

• A total of 250 Silent Auction packages and 34 Live Auction packages filled the VI Building on Saturday. Check out a few of them below!


• The Fair foods were flying off of the tables and into the hands of hungry guests faster than ever before this year! Some of the popular items included: Corndogs, Pork Chops On-A-Stick, Kettle Corn, Smoked Brisket & Bacon Mac N’ Cheese, and much more. Liked what you tasted? Enjoy them and much more at the Fair in one month!


• New merchandise items were also very popular at the Kickoff, such as the 19th Edition Cookbook with recipes from the 2016 and 2017 Iowa State Fairs. You can order yours at our online State Fair Store.

• For only a $100 raffle ticket, the lucky winner of our Winner’s Choice Raffle chose the Farm to Fair Table Live Auction item as a prize—what a deal!

• The auction item everyone was curious about…our 12 foot tall metal rooster did find a home Saturday night. Though he won’t be waking up any nearby neighbors with his crow, he is sure to bring a pop of color amongst his new wildlife friends. Mr. Rooster, you will be missed.


• A dazzling fireworks display lit up the night sky after the completion of the Live Auction. What a perfect view this would have been while relaxing at the top of the Sky Glider!


Stay tuned for more pictures and news from Saturday night. Thank you again to all of those who made this year our best Kickoff yet!


Corndog Kickoff TONIGHT!

July 7, 2018
Intern's picture

THE DAY IS HERE! After hours and hours of preparation, ensuring the smallest of details are perfectly planned, the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation is excited to host our 22nd annual Corndog Kickoff TONIGHT!!

Decorations are set, packages are placed, and volunteers and staff are ready for a night full of fun for all! Whether you are coming to sample all of your favorite Fair food before the Iowa State Fair, bid on the 12 FOOT tall rooster, watch the live band or just enjoy a night on the Fairgrounds, we can promise you, you will not leave disappointed!

Check out some of our pictures from all of the set up! If you don’t have tickets, don’t worry! You can purchase them at the doors. See everyone at 6:30 at the Varied Industries Building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds!

-Macy Evans


Corndog Kickoff & July 4th - A Week of Celebration!

July 3, 2018
Intern's picture

This week, it’s all about the Corndog Kickoff! Since yesterday, many volunteers have been helping us here at the Blue Ribbon Foundation to transport auction packages, set up displays, and get the Varied Industries building ready for a night of adventure! The decorating committee volunteers are ensuring that All Roads Lead to the Iowa State Fair with road sign, suitcase, and license plate decorations galore; and we are starting to feel that thrill of the Fair as the VI exhibit floor quickly comes to life.

As we prepare for the Kickoff, we cannot forget to take some time to celebrate Independence Day and remember all that our great country has to offer—freedom to enjoy time with family and friends; freedom to work and celebrate community; and freedom to eat delicious American foods! We hope everyone spends time tomorrow to relax and celebrate the freedom with which our country is blessed!

But don’t stop the holiday fun on a Wednesday—continue the party with us on Saturday, July 7th at 6:30 p.m.! Enjoy more dazzling displays of fireworks and all of the food, entertainment, and joys of what makes the Iowa State Fair a true representation of America.

Tickets are still available for purchase online or at the doors of the Varied Industries Building on Kickoff night starting at 5:30 p.m.



2018 Good Guys Car Show

June 29, 2018
Intern's picture

An Iowa treasure, the Iowa State Fairgrounds is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Fairgrounds annually attracts more than a million people from all over the world.  This weekend, people are cruising the streets of the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds in classic cars as they celebrate the Good Guys Car Show!

Today, the Blue Ribbon Foundation staff strolled the streets and admired the beauty of the Fairgrounds. We admired the history around us, reminiscing about iconic moments that have taken place here, and took a look at some fancy cars! It was neat to see the pride and admiration in the owners as they talked about their cars. 

Just as the owners took pride in their cars, the Fairgrounds is a place any Iowan can be proud of. When you donate to one of the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s giving programs, you are investing in the renovation and preservation of the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds - One of Iowa’s most celebrated tradition! 



June 27, 2018
Intern's picture

ONLY 4 MORE DAYS to submit your favorite volunteer’s application to be recognized at the 2018 Iowa State Fair by being named the Iowan of the Day! The Blue Ribbon Foundation and Cookies Food Products collaborate annually to ensure that the individuals that go above and beyond in everything that they do, get one special day off at the 2018 Iowa State Fair! We look for people with a strong work ethic, dedication to improving their own communities and a sense of pride in who they are and where they come from: Iowa!

When asking Rosemary Beach, 2016 Iowan of the Day, about her favorite part she explained, “To find out I had been nominated as Iowan of the Day and have all the special events to look forward to. And then, get to do them!” As an Iowan of the Day Rosemary got VIP parking, a golf cart, four admission and grandstand tickets for family and friends, accommodations at the Des Moines Marriot hotel, recognition on the Anne and Bill Riley Stage, and $200 cash! “Such fun, a great day!”

It is not too late for you to bust out an application! Nomination forms and supplemental material are due by July 1. Deserving individuals deserve a day off, and you can do that for them! Don’t wait- nominate them today!



Introducing the New 2018 Fair Square...

June 25, 2018
Intern's picture

For its 9th year, the Blue Ribbon Foundation will be treating Fairgoers to one of their most-loved foods on stick. With gooey marshmallows, crackling crisped rice, and different flavors to satisfy all appetites, the “Fair Square” is a true Fair time delicacy found only at the Iowa State Fair! Fair Squares come in three flavors: original rice krispy, peanut butter, and one surprise flavor each year. In 2017 we celebrated the Blue Ribbon's 25th anniversary with a Birthday Cake flavor. This year, travel to your own tropical paradise with the new 2018 Fair Square: Krispy Kokonut!

A plain rice krispy square is topped with a thick layer of chocolate and then garnished with toasted coconut to take your taste buds on a trip to the ocean shore—in Iowa! Krispy Kokonut landed in the office just a couple of weeks ago for a taste test by the Blue Ribbon staff, and this moist rice krispy treat passed with flying colors—even amongst those of us who aren’t huge coconut fans! This flavor truly took me back to my time in Florida, where my brother would climb up palm trees, gather a few coconuts, and serve my family a hydrating afternoon snack. (Don’t believe me? Check out the picture below. :) ) When the Florida heat reaches Iowa during the Fair, this flavor will be the perfect, refreshing getaway.

Whether you prefer the tried-and-true original and classic PB or are up for a new adventure, you can find all of these delicious flavors at the Fair Square booth northwest of the Administration building. There you’ll meet some of our smiling volunteers and enjoy another aspect of what makes our Fair the best, and most delicious, vacation Iowa has to offer!



A keepsake you can all Enjoy!

June 22, 2018
Intern's picture

Make the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon painting class a family tradition! Grab your sister, grandma, daughter, or best friend and come to the Iowa State Fair! Stop by the paining class and create a masterpiece that can be used to reminisce on the moments you made together at the 2018 Fair.

Check out some of the keepsakes you can create! If your family waited an hours in line to see the butter cow, enjoyed some delicious ice cream, or attended a concert at the fair; there is something for each of you to paint!



This year, there is a new class offered. You can paint on a bag! You can bring your own, or you can use one she provides!


 Like one of these images?! Check out the calendar to see when you can paint it! 


Class times: Daily 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. (No class on Tuesday, August 14 and the mornings of Sunday, August 12 and Sunday, August 19.) A 6:00 pm class is offered on August 11, August 12, August 16, and August 17. On-site class registration is available ½ before the class starts. Space for up to 50 painters at each class.

Price $35: Includes canvas, paints, brushes and 1 ½ hours of instruction to paint a picture featuring an aspect of the Iowa State Fair. The class is being taught by Missy Pieters, owner and artist at Messy Missy’s Painting Studio & Gallery in Marshalltown.

Location: Patty and Jim Cownie Cultural Center - 3rd Floor.

Sign Up: Sign up online and reserve your spot. With limited seating of 40 per class, registration in advance is always advised. Please do so by visiting our online registration page. On-site registration is available 30 minutes prior to the start of each class.

All Roads Lead to the Corndog Kickoff: Preparation!

June 20, 2018
Intern's picture

With the Corndog Kickoff a short 17 days away, the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation has been hard at work with preparations. Last year, nearly 2,000 people came together to support the renovation and preservation efforts of the Blue Ribbon Foundation. To date, the Corndog Kickoff has raised $5.6 million toward Fairground improvements.

With All Roads Lead to the Iowa State Fair, our 2018 Corndog Kickoff theme, all of our décor is travel themed! With suitcases, road signs and license plates, our theme will be all over! Take a keep sake home with you by purchasing a center piece for $10.00!

Hot beef sundaes, pork chop on a stick and corndogs are classic Iowa State Fair foods, catch all of this and more (including the hot chocolate chip cookies) at this year’s Corndog Kickoff! This is perfect for warming up your fair appetite, you will not leave hungry!

This year’s auction includes 241 silent auction packages and 34 live auction packages. Believe me with our office so crowded I guarantee there is something that every Fair enthusiast needs! More and more packages continue to get made, put together and delivered! Bid cards, certificates and description sheets are in the making!

Earlier this week our maintenance crew put up all the sky gliders! The Fair atmosphere is growing with anticipation, and the Corndog Kickoff is the ultimate way to enjoy Fair favorites before the Fair! With sky gliders, a photo booth, spin art, fireworks and Saints and Sinners, the live band, the Corndog Kickoff has all the essential Iowa State Fair entertainment booked and ready for a grand night!

Grab your co-pilot and pack your suitcases because on July 7th All Roads Lead to the Corndog Kickoff! Buy your tickets today to ensure your seat at this year’s benefit auction!

Macy Evans 


The Steal of a Lifetime at the Winner’s Choice Raffle

June 18, 2018
Intern's picture

19 days and counting! It’s beginning to feel a little more Fair-like with each day that passes as the Blue Ribbon Foundation gears up for the 2018 Corndog Kickoff! With silent and live auction packages rolling through the doors, our offices are filling up with all of the goodies guests can bid on at the upcoming event. Want to increase your chances of securing the “dream prize” that stood out to you in our 2018 Auction Book? Well, do I have special news for you…

On the evening of the Kickoff, we will be hosting the Winner’s Choice Raffle where guests can claim a Live Auction package before the bidding even begins! The winner of the raffle will take his or her pick from one of the following five amazing packages:

  1. A Cheerful Quilt: This 63” x 71” quilt features many Fair favorites, from livestock to barns and flowers to pies. Whether you use it as art for your wall or as a blanket to sleep, this piece is sure to bring warmth to you and your home! Donated by Danyell Klein.

  1. Zoom, Zoom, Zoom: Bring your ear plugs and get ready to see history in the making with four grandstand tickets to the NASCAR championship races at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on the weekend of November 17-18, 2018. You’ll experience the Xfinity and Monster Energy Series Ford EcoBoost 300 and 400. Four garage passes are also included. Before you head to Florida, you can also check out the Knoxville Nationals in Knoxville, Iowa with two general administration tickets to the races on August 2-4, 2018 (leaving plenty of time to recover for the Fair in Des Moines!). Donated by Housby & the Knoxville Raceway.

  1. Farm to Fair Table: Have a seat at the invite-only, 500 foot long table for the first-ever “Farm to Fair Table” event on the Grand Concourse, Sunday, August 12 at noon. Four people will have the opportunity to learn from Iowa farmers about our locally-grown foods that feed the world, and you will also enjoy a delicious meal made from Iowa-sourced ingredients. Also included are a Grizzly cooler packed full of delicious meat from Brewer Family Farms, $60 in pork coupons, and gate admission for four with a parking pass to this year’s Fair. Donated by the Iowa State Fair, Brewer Family Farms LLC, Marshall County Pork Producers & the Blue Ribbon Foundation.

  1. Star Light, Star Bright: This matching ring and pendant will be the first stars you’ll see every evening you wear them. They are made with 18 karat white gold, with .39 cttw of diamonds on each, creating the delightful star-like sparkle you see. The ring is a size 6, and the chain for the pendant is a 16” sterling silver .925 cable chain with a lobster claw closure. Donated by Debra Rose Collection.

  1. Pedal to the Medal: A unique coffee table featuring reclaimed wood and an old pedal car. Handcrafted by Zane Hehnke, this creative artist is 19 years old and started “pickin” when he was only 10. Donated by Inspired Finds. (Picture coming soon!)

Did one of these packages strike your fancy? For $100 per ticket, you can test your luck and take home the package of your choice at an unbelievable value. Only 100 tickets will be sold! The drawing will take place at the start of the Live Auction, and you must be present in order to pick your prize. If you’d like to buy a Winner’s Choice Raffle ticket, please send in your $100 donation indicating how many tickets you would like to the Blue Ribbon Foundation or purchase a ticket at the event. You can also learn more about our Corndog Kickoff Benefit Auction here.

I’m excited to watch all of our auction packages find new homes (and give us a little more space around the office) and to see what package is chosen for the Winner’s Choice Raffle. As for me, I could go for a good ol’ Iowa meal any day of the week, but the choice could be yours in 19 days!