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.

Bingo on Grand!

June 15, 2018
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There is always something new to find at the Iowa State Fair. Be sure to participate these new activities coming in 2018: Farm to Fair, Fair After Dark, and B-I-N-G-0, B-I-N-G-O-Bingo on Grand!
On Wednesday, August 15th, Fairgoers are invited to participate in Bingo on Grand Avenue. Fairgoers can pay $1, play a game of Bingo, and have the chance to win half of the total amount collected per game! Games will be played all day from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. You can have fun at the fair and support the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation at the same time!

Since its inception in 1993, the Foundation has raised more than $138 million, through individual contributions, state appropriations, in-kind services, and corporate, federal and state grants – And for the first time ever - BINGO! The proceeds from bingo will provide funding for future renovation and maintenance improvements to the Fairgrounds ensuring the Fair will be a grand tradition for generations to come!

The mission of the Blue Ribbon Foundation is to conduct major capital campaigns for the renovation and preservation of the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds. You can also check out other ways to support the renovation projects and Fairground improvements through our many giving programs, such as Buy a Brick, Growing our Future, or Shine On.




10 Things to Check Out at the Corndog Kickoff

June 13, 2018
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The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation is in full-fledged planning mode. With every day that goes by, the Corndog Kickoff gets closer and closer! However, none of us are panicking! We already know that we have a fun-filled night complete with entertainment, live and silent auction packages for everyone, and food in which all can indulge in. Here is a sneak peek into the planning fun!

5 Ways of Entertainment
1. Fireworks brought to us by Flashing Thunder Fireworks Spectacular are guaranteed to brighten up anyone’s day!

2. A classic Iowa State Fair tradition, the Sky Gliders by SkyFair Inc. will be open for rides! Check out the breath-taking views of the Iowa State Fairgrounds before the Fair!

3. Spin art donated by the Altoona Lions Club can be enjoyed by all! This simple but fun way of art is perfect for the whole family!

4. Capturing the moments as they flash by at the Corndog Kickoff is possible with all of the photo booths throughout the venue. University Photo will capture all of your family’s fun!

5. A live band- Saints and Sinners- will get all attendees on their feet and moving to the beat!

5 Packages to Check Out
1. Join Governor Reynolds and a member of the Iowa State Fair Board for lunch at the Iowa State Fair. Lunch will be provided by the Pork Tent, and dessert at the Dairy Barn is a must! Look out for “A Fair Experience” in the silent auction!

2. Two pairs of homemade leather earrings, a pedicure at Grace Nails, a 10-week unlimited tanning package, soaps, bath bombs, bubble bars and fairy dust make one relaxing, much deserved day! “Treat Yourself” will be featured in the silent auction!

3. A concert at the Iowa State Fair is a tradition- however, with so many good options how can one be expected to choose? Good news! You don’t have to! “A Concert Series” will be featured in the live auction with your own personal band box in the Grandstand at the 2018 Iowa State Fair!

4. Kiki Curtis will be painting LIVE at the Corndog Kickoff! With a State Fair feel, this painting will look good in any Fair enthusiast’s home. Found at the live auction.

5. Movie making 101 would be a good way to describe this package. Two lucky movie fans will have the chance to spend a fascinating day behind the scenes at Ironbound Studios to see just how a movie is made. The “Lights, Camera, Action” package will be auctioned during the live auction!

The Corndog Kickoff has something for everyone! As someone who has never been in the past, I am sure I will not be leaving empty handed. Join us and buy your tickets today!

-Macy Evans 


Leaving Legacies, One Brick at a Time

June 11, 2018
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It was a rainy Monday morning. The wind was gusting, the birds were huddled in their nests, and the leftover smell of pigs from the World Pork Expo hung in the air. Seems like a dreary start to the week stuck inside, right? Not for the Blue Ribbon Foundation staff! The drizzly weather couldn’t stop us from getting outside and creating lasting memories for people throughout the Fairgrounds.

Today, we continued our quest to restore the Fairgrounds by laying engraved bricks along the walkways found in front of various Fair landmarks, such as Ye Old Mill, the Agriculture Building, Pioneer Hall, and the Cattle, Horse, Sheep, and Swine Barns—to name a few. Although it looked like we had dug our hands and feet through a mud pit by the time we were done, the day was a success with 142 new bricks in the ground.

Would you like to leave a permanent legacy and commemorate your and your family’s love for the Iowa State Fair? You can invest in your own personalized brick through the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s Buy a Brick program! We offer both standard bricks and special logo bricks that can be engraved with the inscription of your choosing. The next deadline for ordering a brick is September 15, and we will place your brick within the grounds this fall. To order, visit our website at the link above and secure your new Fair legacy before the craze of the Corndog Kickoff and the Iowa State Fair begins!

Not a brick person? You can also check out other ways to support the renovation projects and Fairground improvements through our many giving programs, such as Trees for the Fair, Growing our Future, or “Shine On.” The Corndog Kickoff is also a great way to show your support while enjoying the foods of the Fair, so remember to reserve your tickets today!

Now that the bricks are laid and the clouds are clearing up, it looks it will be a pleasant week after all. Plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors (perhaps take a quick nap…) and continue our Kickoff preparations! Check out the pictures below to see some of today's handiwork here at the Fairgrounds:



World Pork Expo comes to the Iowa State Fairgrounds

June 8, 2018
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Is it Fair?! Outside the office windows we can see the hustle and bustle of people, food vendors, merchandise stands, and . . . pigs? It isn’t quite Fair time, but the World Pork Expo has taken over the Iowa State Fairgrounds.  While we continue to prepare for the Corndog Kickoff and the Fair, the William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building, Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center, the Grand Concourse, and all of the barns are full with more than 20,000 pork producers and ag professionals from throughout the world.

There’s something for everyone — an expansive trade show, educational seminars, industry updates and networking. And, don’t forget the delicious pork served across the Fairgrounds! (Sounds a lot like Fair to me). The Blue Ribbon Foundation staff took advantage of the excitement outside the office, put some of our “Top 10 Food Strategies” to the test, and enjoyed the excitement. We enjoyed our pre-Fair adventure, and are looking forward to the real deal August 9-19th.

If you made it to World Pork Expo, I hope you enjoyed the mild temperatures, the delicious food, and the lingering smell of pigs. If you are missing out on pork expo, you can still enjoy some pre-Fair festivities by attending the Corndog Kickoff Benefit Auction and Fair Food Grazing Party on Saturday, July 7th. It is a fun-filled night complete with live entertainment, all of your Fair food favorites, and a variety of unique auction packages to satisfy any State Fair enthusiast. Get your tickets today!


Celebrate Iowans with us!

June 6, 2018
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Every year the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation and Cookies Food Products collaborates to honor the individuals in Iowa that continually go above and beyond in everything they do! In 2017 Ron Bell was named Iowan of the Day at the Iowa State Fair. He played an integral role in bringing his hometown community together, from spearheading the annual Mondamin Christmas Party and the Mondamin Hertiage Days Celebration to being Mayor for six years. As the Mayor Ron initiated projects to replace the water tower and to upgrade the sanitary sewer system.

Bernard Becker was named 2017 Iowan of the Day with his passion of honoring Veterans. Each year Bernard hosts United States Marine Corps Purple Heart Medal recipients to his hometown to enjoy a pheasant hunt and banquet in honor of their service. “Bernie has an unequaled passion for supporting our Veterans, and his nonprofit event has hosted approximately 30 Purple Heart Marines for pheasant hunting and healing in the last six years,” said nominator Steve Smith.

From supporting agriculture and the environment to supporting her community as a whole, Shirley Geadelmann was recognized as Iowan of the Day from her passion of agriculture and serving others. Raising her family on a dairy, hog and diversified crop farm instilled a passion and love for agriculture that Shirley continues to share with her community through Iowa Master Farm Homemakers, the Cedar County Farm Bureau, local 4-H clubs and the local Dairy Herd Improvement Association.

No matter the passion, no matter the work, the Blue Ribbon Foundation and Cookies Food Products are here to celebrate Iowans for all of their hard work that makes their own communities a better place to live in. Nominate a deserving individual today!

Macy Evans 


Food & More Food! - 2018 Corndog Kickoff

June 4, 2018
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Buckets of chocolate chip cookies, giant turkey legs, fresh melon cups, and over 80 different foods on a stick—these are just tastes of the classic foods showcased at the Iowa State Fair each year and some of the foods that will be featured at this year’s Corndog Kickoff! Last week, we talked about the “fun” found at the 2018 Kickoff; this week, let’s talk about my favorite “F” of this fabulous event: food!

Awaken your Fair-loving appetite at the Fair Food Grazing Party by enjoying a preview of our favorite Fair treats. As you make the difficult decision about which vendors to try, consider sampling some (or all!) of these delicious food options:

• Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies
• Sliced Caramel Apples
• Corndogs (wouldn’t be a Corndog Kickoff without ‘em!)
• Fresh Melon Cups
• Hot Beef Sundaes
• Turkey Legs
• Gizmo Sandwiches
• Fair Squares
• The Bruschetta Sundae "Mt. Vesuvius"
• Pickle Dawgs
• Nut Rolls and Fudge
• Pork Chops On-A-Stick
• A&W Root Beer Floats
• Smoked Brisket Bacon Mac N’ Cheese
• Corn in a Cup
• Sno Cones
• Kettle Korn
• Cotton Candy
• Blue Bunny Ice Cream

As the days draw nearer, even more food options (yes, more) will be available for you to get excited about. So pack your bags with extra stretchy pants, hitch a ride, rent a bike, or prepare your best walking shoes to make the trek across the state to celebrate our favorite and most satisfying Fair traditions at the 22nd annual Corndog Kickoff! I will see you there with two forks and extra napkins in hand.



Volunteers and vendors surrounded by food!

Paint at the Fair

June 1, 2018
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As you stroll through the Fairgrounds, you can see many breath-taking colorful scenes like the bright lights illuminating the Thrill Park, the vibrant colors advertising the concessions on Grand, or even the giant orange pumpkins that sit in front of the Agricultural Building. The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation offers painting classes during the Fair to help ensure the future of the Fair remains colorful.

Grab your friends and come paint these colorful scenes at the Iowa State Fair! The $35 registration fee includes the canvas, brushes and paint for the hour and a half class. There is a new classes offered this year! Rather than paining the traditional canvas, you can paint a gently used canvas or leather bag. Feel free to bring your own, or use one available on site.

All proceeds from the painting class are dedicated to Our Fair’s Future, the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s endowment fund. As the endowment grows, it will provide a reliable source of funding for future renovation and maintenance improvements to the Fairgrounds ensuring the Fair will be a grand tradition for generations to come.

Check out the calendar below to see what you can create! On-site class registration is available before the class starts. We have space for 50 painters in each class. We recommend signing up now to reserve your spot. To register online, click here! Or call our office at 515-262-3111 Ext. 371



Volunteering is Priceless!

May 30, 2018
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Our many behind-the-scenes volunteers are what keep the Foundation running smoothly at the Iowa State Fair, as well as the Corndog Kickoff. Each year, more than 500 Blue Ribbon Foundation volunteers donate their time and energy by helping sell merchandise at the Foundation trailers and other locations, or by selling bottled water and Fair Squares at the Foundation’s many stands. Sign up to volunteer at the Iowa State Fair here!

A new fundraising event is the first ever Bingo tent on Grand Avenue, held on Wednesday, August 15th. Sign up to volunteer for this new tradition and stay tuned for more information regarding Bingo on Grand!

Volunteers are all around us, and what make each community in Iowa so successful! If you know a great volunteer, nominate them today for Iowan of the Day! We look for people with a strong work ethic, loyalty to helping others and an exceptional sense of Iowa pride. Winners receive four Iowa State Fair admission tickets, accommodations at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown, VIP Parking and more! Download a nomination form. All Nominations are due by July 1st, 2018.

Macy Evans 



Dining Delights - Fun at the 2018 Corndog Kickoff

May 29, 2018
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With less than six weeks until our 22nd annual Corndog Kickoff, the Blue Ribbon Foundation staff is already gearing up for a night full of the 5 F's: family, friends, fun, fireworks, and, of course, food! Let’s dive a little deeper into the third F—fun! This celebratory night will feature many auction prizes and exciting games, including Rags to Riches, Spin Wheel, and our brand new game: Dining Delights. Today, I'm going to "delight" you with a sneak peek into this new game!

For the first year ever, the Blue Ribbon Foundation is hosting “Dining Delights” by collecting gift card donations from the best Iowa eateries around the state. We already have gifts cards to restaurants such as Tasty Tacos, Drake Diner, Spaghetti Works, Goldie’s Ice Cream Shoppe, and Jethro’s Barbeque—and that's just a taste! To play, all you will have to do is provide a $20 donation, which will go to preserve and improve our great Fairgrounds. In return, you will pick a mystery gift card with a value of at least $20 (most likely more!) from our mystery gift card bag, and voila! You are a winner. Treat your significant other to a night out in the town, or, if you’re like me, treat yourself to a nice steak dinner with some sweet Iowa corn on the cob. However you choose to enjoy your dining prize, everyone is guaranteed to win.

Seem too good to be true? Well, don't just take my word for it, but come to the Kickoff on Saturday, July 7th and play for yourself! Remember, you can still reserve your tickets before July 1st by mailing in your R.S.V.P. envelope, visiting, or calling 515-262-3111 Ext. 371. Also, if you have a favorite local café, lunch hangout, pub, ice cream parlor, or other restaurant destination that you would like to share, we are accepting gift cards of $25 or more until June 22nd.

Just writing about all of this food is making me eager to enjoy the tastes and fun of this year’s Corndog Kickoff, so I hope you will join me by delighting in some fine Iowa dining and indulging in all of the Kickoff festivities!



Some of the fun from last year's Corndog Kickoff!

Top 10 Fair Food Strategies

May 25, 2018
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Everyone visits the Fairgrounds with different ideas about what to eat, how much to eat, or when and where to eat at the Fair. Your food experience is central to the annual visit. Do you gravitate to the same food stands year after year? Do you eat that one or two or three food items over and over? Or are you perennially on the lookout for new options every time you step foot on the Fairgrounds? Well, here’s a Top Ten List of Fair Food Strategies to consider as you spend time at the Iowa State Fair. Enjoy!

#1 – Cookie dough is safe to eat
#2 – There is salad at the Iowa State Fair
#3 – Help a youngster try a brand new food
#4 – Mini doughnuts can be eaten any time of day
#5 – Nothing is more convenient than food on a stick
#6 – Create your own friends and family food challenge
#7 – Interesting beer and wine selections are everywhere
#8 – Fair concessionaires serve up at least eight different edible proteins including ostrich and buffalo
#9 – When you just have to sit down to eat – Enjoy sitting at one of the dozens of Fairgrounds benches
#10 – Hydration is important – Swing by one of the Blue Ribbon Foundation stands and purchase some Valley Water. When fairgoers purchase water they are supporting our mission to help improve and preserve the beauty of the Fairgrounds.

You can practice these food strategies before the Iowa State Fair by attending the Corndog Kickoff Benefit Auction and Fair Food Grazing Party on Saturday, July 7th. It is a fun-filled night complete with live entertainment, all of your Fair food favorites, and a variety of unique auction packages to satisfy any State Fair enthusiast. Get your tickets today! Practice makes perfect!