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.

2017 Fair Recap - August 10 & 11

August 31, 2017
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The 2017 Iowa State Fair was one for the books! Thank you to the Blue Ribbon Foundation supporters, volunteers, interns, summer staff, Fair staff, and the list goes on and on. These people truly made the Blue Ribbon Foundation's Fair a success. The next few weeks I’ll highlight the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s incredible 2017 Iowa State Fair.

August 10: We kicked off the day with Opening Ceremonies held in Thrill Ville to celebrate the new Thrill Parks. Midway construction expanded the existing pavement and created an inviting entrance to welcome guests to the new family-friendly amusement rides. Strolling into the Fairgrounds, Fairgoers couldn’t miss the updated admission gate, new road and sidewalks along East 33rd Street.

Other new construction included the West Plaza beautification project. This pathway created a distinct pedestrian and parking area to the south of the William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building connecting to the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center and Gate 10. Fairgoers could easily navigate this area of the Fairgrounds with new sidewalks, landscaping, and lighting.

During the first day, we honored Iowan of the Day Carolyn Scott of Bloomfield. Carolyn is actively involved with her local 4-H clubs, teaching the art of sewing to young women and sharing her knowledge about sheep with exhibitors at the Davis County Fair. Carolyn uses her time and talents to plant flowers and maintain them on the streets of Bloomfield. Her talented green thumb has been appreciated by many in Bloomfield, as Carolyn has been a Master Gardner for four years. Carolyn also donates her time advocating for the advancement of women with the P.E.O, a philanthropic organization.

August 11: On Friday, the new State Fair Store in the Horner Service Center was busy! The Blue Ribbon Foundation sold t-shirts, hats, and official State Fair collectibles as a fundraiser.  Each year Fairgoers collect the ornament, pottery piece and State Fair plaque. Having all of the merchandise in one location made shopping easy! (And allowed staff to have a better inventory system, stocking items, and we didn’t worry about the weather!) Check out the online State Fair Store for leftover merchandise available for sale. Although we don’t have an official store throughout the year, you can purchase merchandise at our office on the Fairgrounds.

We also honored Iowan of the Day winner, Shirley Geadelmann of Clarence. Shirley shares her passion for agriculture with her community through Iowa Master Farm Homemakers, the Cedar County Farm Bureau, local 4-H clubs, and the local Dairy Herd Improvement Association. She has also shared her experiences and knowledge about dairy cows with the Lowden Historical Society and children at the St. Johns United Church of Christ for more than 50 years. Shirley also spends her time volunteering for her local hospital, church, library and Camp Courageous. She led a fundraiser to raise money for a handicap- accessible van in support of the elderly. As an Older Iowans Legislator, she has been an advocate for services to support issues elderly may face.

For me, the first two days of the Iowa State Fair are the longest days yet go by the fastest. The weather was absolutely gorgeous for the entire 11 days and attendance was just warming up for the days ahead.  My first food item was a classic corndog – one of my favorites.

Stay tuned for more 2017 Iowa State Fair highlights.

2017 Interns: Abbi, Emily, Kennedy and Taylor were ready for the first day!  

Iowan of the Day Winner, Carolyn Scott:


Iowan of the Day Winner, Shirley Geadelmann:


New State Fair Store:



The Best Summer of My Life

August 22, 2017
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Well, the 2017 Fair has officially come to an end, and what a thrilling ride it was. Looking back at all the things that have happened since May, it’s definitely safe to say this was the best summer of my life. While I can’t list everything that made up this fantastic summer (because that would become a novel), I can at least give you the highlights.

- Corndog Kickoff- An event I will attend for years to come.
- Blue Ribbon Foundation Staff- They were never frustrated or annoyed (for the most part) with the thousands of questions I asked. I learned so much from them!
- My Fellow Interns- I will remember them forever!
- Volunteers- Getting the pleasure of scheduling almost 600 volunteers was rewarding and challenging all at the same time.

Everyone at the Blue Ribbon Foundation was fantastic. The staff, the interns, they all made my summer what it was. The interns and I couldn’t get through a day without laughing hysterically and quite possibly annoying our wonderful staff a little.

My favorite part was obviously the volunteers. They were all so eager to work, and they truly all love the Fair, which made me love the Fair that much more. I really enjoyed stopping to talk with the volunteers and connecting with them on things we cherished about the Fair.

It really is crazy to think that my summer at the Blue Ribbon Foundation has actually ended. But I’m so grateful for the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met. While I won’t be an intern next year, I’ll definitely be back, because at the Iowa State Fair, nothing compares.



Book Signings at the Fair

August 3, 2017
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The Blue Ribbon Foundation is celebrating 25 years with a new book.  A Great State Fair: The Blue Ribbon Foundation and the Revival of the Iowa State Fair, by William B. Friedricks, takes you behind the scenes of the roller coaster ride of ups and downs of the Iowa State Fair’s long history, leading up to the Blue Ribbon Foundation and the remarkable revival it brought about at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, now bigger and better than ever.

The author, William B. Friedricks, will be holding book signings at the Blue Ribbon Foundation merchandise store in the Robert G. Horner and Sheri Avis Horner Service Center from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. on the following days:

Friday, August 11th

Saturday, August 12th

Sunday, August 13th

Wednesday, August 16th

Friday, August 18th

Saturday, August 19th

Sunday, August 20th

Make sure to stop by to meet the author and get your book signed! The books will be sold at all of the Blue Ribbon Foundation merchandise locations for $20. The Fair is just a week away--we look forward to seeing you there!



Book Cover


The Robert G. Horner and Sheri Avis Horner Service Center is the location for the new Blue Ribbon Foundation merchandise store and where book signings will be held!


Preparing for the Fair

August 2, 2017
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Can you believe there are only seven days until the Iowa State Fair?! Time has flown by this summer and many hours have been put into making the Fair a great experience for all Fairgoers! The fairgrounds have been busy all summer with landscapers planting new flowers and trees, construction workers completing the new Midway project and updates being made in various buildings. We have also been busy at the Blue Ribbon Foundation scheduling volunteers to work at our various merchandise and water booth stations, organizing each of the recognition days for the Iowan of the Day recipients and tieing up loose ends before the Fair! The grounds are beginning to fill up with food stands and people who are also preparing to make your Fair experience one you won't forget! 

During your Fair visit, don't forget to enjoy our well known Fair Squares, sold near the Administration Building. This year's new flavor is Birthday Cake in honor of our 25th Anniversary! You can also sign up for a painting class and paint an icon of the Iowa State Fair. 

You won't want to miss out! We can't wait to see you in seven days! 



Food stands are beginning to be set up in preparation for the Fair. 

Brick Placing

July 31, 2017
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Today we were busy placing ordered bricks around the Fairgrounds. I know that everyone has been anxiously waiting to see their newly placed bricks.

If you purchased a brick this winter or spring make sure you find it during the Fair!

Interested in ordering a brick? A new batch will be placed this fall. There are 15 different brick locations across the Fairgrounds.


Paint an Icon of the Iowa State Fair

July 26, 2017
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Enjoy a ladies day out during the Iowa State Fair and join us for a painting class! Take home a painted icon of the Iowa State Fair painted by you! Each painting class takes place on the third floor of Pattie & Jim Cownie Cultural Center. 


The paintings availabe are: 

Honey Lemonade 


Funky Chicken


DNR Crappie




Happy Camper


I love the State Fair


Funny Bunny


Wooly Lamb


To sign up for a painting class, contact Kennedy Plowman at 515-262-3111 ext. 377 or register online

Only 14 more days until the Iowa State Fair! See you there! 


A Look at the Past- Food Department Edition

July 25, 2017
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The Blue Ribbon Foundation is excited to be celebrating 25 years as a Foundation. The Iowa State Fair has been growing for over 160 years. The history that lies between times is remarkable. Prime examples are the changes taken place in events like the famous food competitions and the wine and beer making showcases.



Every year, over 9,000 entries compete in the food competition. The food competition began in the Family Center and moved to the Elwell Family Food Center, previously known as the Iowa Tourism Building. This change of location provided additional display and judging space.


The wine and beer making showcase takes place in Grandfathers barn. Iowa is able to showcase the wine and grape, and beer industry at the State Fair. With your help, the Blue Ribbon Foundation was able to renovate the barn in 2008 to continue the showcase.

The past 25 years have been enhancing and compelling thanks to your generosity. We invite you to continue to become more involved with the Fair you know and love by supporting the Blue Ribbon Foundation 25th anniversary campaign at


A Look at the Past- Campgrounds Edition

July 21, 2017
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There is something about pitching a tent or hanging out in a camper for a weekend that revives families from the outside world. Most of the time, you’d find a family at a state park or lake, but this year during August 10-20, you’ll be able to find MANY campers at the Iowa State Fairgrounds enjoying 11 full days of excitement.


The Blue Ribbon Foundation has played an active part in updating the campgrounds. We want fairgoers to have the best experience during their stay and create lasting memories.

Over the past 25 years we have had an incredible support system and we thank you for your continued support. You can continue to support the Blue Ribbon Foundation in preserving and restoring areas on the Fairgrounds such as the campground for years to come by donating to our 25th anniversary campaign at With your help we can continue to make our Fairgrounds a beautiful place.


The 2017 Iowan of the Day Winners Have Been Selected!

July 19, 2017
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The 2017 Iowan of the Day recipients have been chosen! I am so excited to meet these individuals who have made an impressive impact on the state of Iowa. The recipients strongly represent the entire state, as the winners come from all regions. 

From main streets receiving a remodel and a designation, libraries being updated and built, to U.S. Marine Corps veterans being honored for their service, these Iowans have truly demonstrated their love and passion for our state. Iowa is in good hands with these individuals whom are also working to better our environment with improved conservation methods and strategies.

Our youth have great leaders to look up to. The recipients are continuously creating sporting, educational and community events to get children involved. Each of the ten recipients brings a unique way of life to their community, and as a group they are exemplifying the qualities that Iowans possess!

I am pleased to present the ten Iowan of the Day  recipients for the 2017 Iowa State Fair:

Carolyn Scott of Bloomfield, IA-Thursday, August 10
Shirley Geadelmann of Clarence, IA-Friday, August 11
Donald Bries of Dubuque, IA –Saturday, August 12
Ron Bell of Mondamin, IA-Sunday, August 13
Marian McQuaid of Guthrie Center, IA- Monday, August 14
Patricia Nelson of Winterset, IA – Tuesday, August 15
Mary Doak of Grundy Center, IA – Wednesday, August 16
Marty Braster of Centerville, IA- Thursday, August 17
Chris Fox of Johnston, IA-Friday, August 18
Bernard Becker of Lakota, IA- Saturday, August 19

Plan to attend each of the winner’s presentation at the 2017 Iowa State Fair, taking place on the Anne & Bill Riley stage at 2: 30 P.M. each day. Thank you to those who nominated an Iowan in their community! Each nomination is considered for three years. We will see you in 21 days!


THANK YOU- Corndog Kickoff 2017

July 14, 2017
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Nearly 2,000 Iowa State Fair supporters gathered for a night of fun, food and fundraising. The Blue Ribbon Foundation auctioned off 31 live and 231 silent auction packages for totals of $149,550 and $68,090, respectively. The Patron contributions totaled $282,350. The remaining funds consisted of tickets and merchandise sales.

The success of the Corndog Kickoff would not be possible without your help. Thank you to our attendees, volunteers, donors, and concessionaires for supporting our event. With your help, we will continue to renovate and preserve the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The Blue Ribbon Foundation thanks you for your continued support.