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 $135 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.

Marching Forward...only 159 days to go!

March 2, 2012

It's March and things are really picking up here at the Foundation. Though it was a busier winter than normal due to the website revamp, we're just getting started! As many of you know, the full Grandstand lineup has been announced and the deadline for Fan Fair was yesterday. Thanks to all who contributed to make it a record-breaking year for Fan Fair donations! If you donated, you will receive a letter in the mail within the next couple of weeks with all of the details on early ticket purchasing through Fan Fair.

We're also gearing up for the Corndog Kickoff and holding meetings with the auction and advisory teams to get started. July will be here before you know it and we will be celebrating our 16th year of the Kickoff! If you are interested in donating an item to our auction, please check out the donation form and contact Robin with any questions. Or, if you're interested in being a patron at the event, click here for more information. The patron donor form will be up soon!

We will round out March with wrapping up all of our giving programs! If you wanted a brick, bench, tree, lamp post, granite paver or other item we offer placed for the 2012 Fair, all of those donations need to be submitted by March 31. If you have any questions about any of the above programs, please contact me via email.

Spring is coming and the Fair will be here before you know it! Only 159 days to go!


Fan Fair Deadline: MARCH 1!

February 28, 2012

I can't believe February is almost over! At least we can squeeze out one more day this month because of leap year. That gives all of you another day to make the deadline for Fan Fair 2012 on March 1st!

For all of you Fair-lovers and concert-goers, I'm sure you've been hearing the Grandstand acts roll out as they are confirmed. It's shaping up to be a great line-up and it makes me even more excited for the Fair this year! There is a great mix of country, pop, rock and oldies - something for everyone. If you're planning on going to one of the great shows, you should consider joining our Fan Fair program. It is the best way to get great seats before the tickets go on sale to the general public.

For every $100 donation you make to the Fan Fair program, you get two early seats to a concert of your choice for the 2012 Fair. There is no limit on the donation amount. So, if you want 2 tickets to three different concerts, then that would just be a $300 donation. Or, instead, with that $300 donation, you could get all six of your tickets to just one show. How you divide them is up to you!

Even better than getting great seats to concerts you love, you're supporting the mission of the Blue Ribbon Foundation. The donation is tax deductible and the money is used to renovate and preserve the beautiful and historic Iowa State Fairgrounds. So, be sure to get great seats and support the Fair today!


Please remember your donation is only for the early ticketing privileges; it does not include admission or price of the concert tickets. If you have any specific questions, please let me know via email.

Show your love!

February 24, 2012

It's a snowy day on the Fairgrounds today, and it's hard to believe that in just 6 short months, this place will be bustling with people enjoying the food, entertainment, and atmosphere of the Iowa State Fair.

There's a lot to do before then, and we are in full gear here already planning for the Corn Dog Kickoff, 2012 merchandise, and everything else that will take place in the next 24 weeks.

A project that I have been working hard on lately is the Corndog Checkoff. Before working for the Blue Ribbon Foundation, I didn't know a lot about the program and what a great opportunity it is for Iowa residents to make a huge difference for the Fair. By simply checking line 58b of Iowa Tax Form 1040 and line 14 of 1040A, a portion of my return will go straight to the Blue Ribbon Foundation to be used for renovation on the Fairgrounds. It doesn't even have to be a large amount of my return, either. The minimum amount you're able to checkoff is $1. I have at least that much in change at the bottom of my purse right now! The average gift is $16 (less than what it would cost my fiance and I to go out to dinner), but when you combine that amount with everyone else that gives, it turns out to be a GREAT fundraising effort for the Foundation. In it's 18th year, the Corndog Checkoff has raised nearly $1.6 million!

So I encourage you to keep the Corndog Checkoff in mind as your filing your tax return in the next month or so. Remember, it only takes $1 to make a huge difference!




Welcome to our new site!

February 17, 2012

I've been anxiously awaiting this day for months! Welcome to our fresh, new website!!

Going into this project, I knew very little about working to create a new site, building donation pages or setting up an e-store, but with a tight timeline and a great web design team, it's done and ready for your viewing!

Here are some of the new features that I'm really excited about, and I think you'll appreciate as a visitor:

  • Clear, easy navigation - the tabs on the top of the page will help you find just what you're looking for.
  • Photo albums - for events such as the Corndog Kickoff and Fairgrounds 5K, we now can display more photos.
  • Videos - the event pages also have some video, but so so some of the renovations. Check out the videos on building the Jacobson Center.
  • New E-store - Check out the merchandise in our revamped online State Fair Store.
  • Blog - as you noticed, our blog is now embedded on our site - a one stop shop for keeping up with the BRF!
  • Donation pages - these giving program forms (such as buying a brick) are user friendly, and with the option to login/set up an account, it will auto fill your contact information and you can view your past giving history!

We hope you enjoy all the changes we've made to make your experience with the Foundation even better. Now's the time to go check it out, explore, and enjoy the updated site!

Beef Expo 2012

February 16, 2012

It’s another busy week here on the Fairgrounds for the annual Winter Beef Expo. Like most of this winter, we’ve really lucked out with more great weather. All of the cattle, vehicles, livestock trailers and people on the grounds make it feel like Fair time. Though it’s still 6 months away, I can feel the buzz in the air and I’m already getting excited for another Fair!

Hopefully if you were out at the Expo at all, you found the Foundation’s booth in the Cattle Barn foyer. Thanks to our great volunteers, we were able to have a presence at the event and sell our Fair merchandise.

Volunteers Nikki Goodell and Judy Dillenburg speak with a customer at the Blue Ribbon Foundation's booth.

As I’ve mentioned in a past post about the Beef Expo, my family has attended for as long as I can remember. Each year my sister and I would show in Polled Hereford classes and once we graduated high school, Mom and Dad continued to make the trip, but selling cattle instead of exhibiting. The past two years I have helped with the sale, taking them in the arena, but with how crazy it’s been around here lately preparing the new website, among other projects, I didn’t take the time off. However, I was able to snag a couple of shots in the barn before the sale as I was changing out the volunteers at the booth. Check out how cute our Herefords are!

The two calves we sold today: Yedda and Yelk.


My dad getting ready to take the bull into the sale ring.

The Blue Ribbon Foundation booth closes after today, but the Beef Expo goes through Sunday, so if you’re interested, you should stop out to the Fairgrounds and see what it’s all about. On another note, be sure to check out our website tomorrow for the unveiling of our completely revamped website!!

BRF Communications

February 2, 2012

It has been an exciting couple of days in my communications world! The Foundation is getting ready to launch a new website sometime before March 1 and I received the first build out proof of the new site! So exciting! I can’t wait for it to make its debut- it is going to be great for both the Foundation and our loyal supporters. A nice, clean look, plus easier navigation to find just what you’re looking for. Since I can’t contain myself, I will give you a sneak peek of the new homepage:


In other news, yesterday I received the initial design concepts for the 2012 Corndog Kickoff. I’m not going to spill too much on that yet, but I can tell you one thing…it’s going to be sweet! This year we will be celebrating 16 years…it’s a sweet thing.
Stay tuned for more information on our new website launch, and of course on our favorite Foundation event of the year, the Kickoff!

Happy New Year!

January 5, 2012

Wow! What a great start to 2012! I never thought I’d be sitting in my office with my screen door open listening to kids play in the Fun Forest in JANUARY!! I even went to lunch without a coat! If this weather is any prediction to what kind of year it is going to be, then I'm ready for a great one!

Well, after another great holiday spent with family and friends we are all back at work, and for me, it seems busier than ever! Everyone assumes that we are slow this time of year, but there are plenty of projects that need work all year round, or those that are getting started in preparation for the Fair. Currently I am working on the "winter" newsletter, conducting intern interviews and gearing up to start planning the Corndog Kickoff. In addition, we are getting ready to launch a new giving program, Our Fair's Future, improving our online donation process as well as redesigning our website!

I am excited for 2012 and all that it will bring. Keep checking in with us here at the Foundation as we will have a lot of new and exciting things to share in the upcoming year.

Happy Holidays!

December 22, 2011

2011 Holiday E-card

Happy Holidays from the Blue Ribbon Foundation!

Tags: holidays

'Tis the Season

December 12, 2011

December is here which means Thanksgiving is over, Black Friday madness has come and gone, and it is time to think about Christmas and everything that goes along with it. It seems that Christmas season has entered with a bang, and we kicked off December with a fresh blanket of snow to welcome it in.

Blue Ribbon Foundation Christmas Tree

As I've spent the past week decorating around the office and home, there have been a lot of things on my mind involving the holidays. As someone that is recently engaged, one of the biggest things on my mind is incorporating a new family into my holiday routine. That means extra family gatherings to attend, more holiday treats to bake, and most of all, more presents to buy.

I often have a hard time thinking of fun and meaningful gift ideas for the ones that I love. As someone who grew up with a passion for the Iowa State Fair, I always loved collecting items that reminded me of those wonderful 11 days in August. This year, when thinking about gifts for that Fair lover in your life, head over to our online Iowa State Fair merchandise store and give them something that will help them remember their favorite memories of the Fair all year round.

Happy Holidays from all of us at the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation!

Snow on the Fairgrounds!

December 9, 2011

I’m not a huge fan of winter, but, if it’s going to be cold outside, it might as well snow! I snapped a couple of shots this morning as I came into work…it’s a little different from the scene you’re used to seeing in August!

Also, here’s a quick recap of the end of the Fall since we’ve been out of touch:

  • The annual 5K went great! We had a record number of participants and the weather was beautiful!
  • We had a change in staffing as well. Jenna Reece is our new sponsorship director, taking the place of Emily Saveraid. Jenna will be blogging soon so you will get to know her as well!
  • I attended the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) annual conference in Las Vegas the last week in November. It was a great conference and our Fair Manager and CEO, Gary Slater, will be the chair at next year’s convention, so we will preparing all year to help put on a great event.
  • Blue Ribbon staff has been preparing for our annual holiday party that will take place next week in the Jacobson Center.

December is already flying by and the holidays will come and go before we know it! Be sure to check out the great State Fair merchandise we have for sale in our online store if you still have some shopping to do!