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.


June 27, 2018
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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!


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