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.

Live Auction Packages

June 7, 2017

The smell of pigs, wood shavings and bacon around the fairgrounds this morning reminds me of home. The World Pork Expo has begun today and the Fairgrounds is full of pork-enthusiasts. The large number of people on the Fairgrounds has me feeling excited and anxious for what is to come in August!


To get your taste of Fair food and fun early, attend the Corndog Kickoff on July 8! Take home a package or item that you can’t find anywhere else. Join the live auction and bid for one of these packages:

1. Gliding By- Take home a bright orange sky glider chair that used to hang on the East SkyGlider. Donated by Sky Fair & the Iowa State Fair 

2. Up, Up and Away- Enjoy a peaceful ride over central Iowa in a hot air balloon ride. Donated by Jim & Rita Fromm, Country Inn & Suites by Carlson & Mishmash Eats

3. Zoom, Zoom, Zoom- Attend the NASCAR championship races at the Miami Speedway, and before that, head to Newton, IA for the NASCAR Xfinity Series U.S. Cellular 250 at the Iowa Speedway. Donated by Housby Mach & the Iowa Speedway 

4. Tell Me Something Good- Four front row tickets to see Little Big Town at the Iowa State Fair. Donated by the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation

5. Go Cubs! – Cheer on both the Iowa Cubs and the Chicago Cubs with 10 tickets to any Iowa Cubs game and two tickets to the Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals. Donated by Daniel Molyneaux, Gary & Cindy Cheney, Iowa Cubs, Casey's General Store & Karen Brockelsby. 

For another chance at one of these five packages, purchase a ticket for the Winner's Choice Raffle. The winner will get to choose one of these pakcages. Tickets are $100 and only 100 tickets are sold! The winner must be present at the time of the drawing. The drawing takes place at the beginning of the live auction. 

Check out the auction book for the full list of live and silent auction packages. You won’t want to miss out! Call the office at 515-262-3111 ext. 371 or go online at to purchase tickets. See you there!



Paint the Fair

June 6, 2017

With a stroke of a brush, you can create a master piece capturing the most iconic elements of the Iowa State Fair.

The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation offers painting classes throughout the fair to help ensure the future of the fair remains colorful. All proceeds from the painting class are put towards the Iowa State Fair’s Future, the Blue Ribbon Foundation endowment fund.

The class times are daily at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. (No Class on Tuesday, August 15 and the mornings of Sunday, August 13 and Sunday, August 20.) A 6:00 p.m. class is offered on August 12, August 13, August 17, and August 18. You can register online now or up to a ½ hour before the selected class begins. The class will be taught by Missy Pieters, owner and artist at Messy Missy's Painting Studio and Gallery.  Space is limited to 40 painters at each class, so book your time today!

Each class will be held in the Patty and Jim Cownie Cultural Center on the 3rd flood.

To register online, click here! Or call our office at 515-262-3111 ext 371.

Stayed tuned for the canvas calendar to see what master piece you can create. Happy painting!



(Last year's painters took home a painted portrait of the buttercow!)


Selfie For Good

June 5, 2017

The Principal Charity Classic will be hosted this week at the Wakonda Club in Des Moines. On June 6 – June 11, golfers tee off for charity. The Blue Ribbon Foundation is partnering with the Principal Charity Classic for the “Birdies for Charity” fundraiser. Supporters can make a pledge based on the number of “birdies” made by Champions Tour players. There are two ways for supporters to pledge: A per-birdie amount for every birdie made by Champions Tour players during the 2017 Principal Charity Classic, or a one-time flat donation.

The Blue Ribbon Foundation will receive 100% of every donation collected and receive a 10% match for all pledges made through the program. For more information about Birdies for Charity and to pledge visit The Principal Charity Classic website. Or you can donate now to join the Blue Ribbon Foundation as we raise funds to help preserve and improve the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

You can also join Principal while they ‘take a selfie’ to do more good. Throughout the “selfie for good” promotion, Principal will award five fans with $500 in charitable dollars each day of tournament week. Each fan will then select a charity to receive a $500 donation on their behalf. To participate, take a selfie at the Principal Charity Classic and use the hashtag #PCC17 when posting to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Be taking those selfies, and show some love to the Blue Ribbon Foundation! Need a selfie stick? We’ve got you covered at the online State Fair Store!


We took our selfie, don’t forget yours! #PCC17

State Fair Online Store

June 1, 2017

Have you checked out the State Fair Online Store recently? Click here to see everything! Items include apparel, books, charm bracelets, collectibles, hats, jewelry, prints, and State Fair plaques! You can indulge in an 18th edition cookbook that features select ribbon-winning recipes from the 2014 and 2015 Iowa State Fairs. Also available for any State Fair lover is an Iowa State Fair charm bracelet! This exceptional charm bracelet was created especially for the Iowa State Fair and the Blue Ribbon Foundation. It comes in silver and gold and has seven charms, including the 2016 logo charm. There are also some very cool Iowa State Fair prints that are sure to nicely decorate any room! 

Meanwhile in the office today, the “rags” for Rags to Riches at the Corndog Kickoff came in! They look great thanks to Broken Arrow Wear who printed them! Rags to Riches is a 50/50 raffle game sponsored by West Bank that will be played halfway through the live auction. You are invited to purchase a souvenir bandana, or “rag,” for $10 to get in the game. As a participant during the game, you will hold it in the air or keep it down at your side. The auctioneer will flip a coin—heads is rags up and tails down. If you choose correctly, you remain standing and continue to play; when you’re wrong, you sit down. The game continues until we have one lucky participant left standing. The winner will receive half of the amount made from the rag sales. Last year’s winner took home $3,465! Get tickets to the Kickoff today to get your chance to win big! 



One of the many prints you can buy at the State Fair Online Store! 


The new "Rags to Riches" rag! 

Fair Improvements

May 31, 2017

Can you believe it is already the last day of May? The Fair will be here before you know it, and construction is underway for the new Thrill Parks. The Fairgrounds are full of visitors and workers getting the Fairgrounds prepared for the Fair to bring you an even better Fair experience!

The Midway is being transformed into a more family-friendly environment. Thrill Ville, Thrill Town and Thrill Zone will bring attractions for all ages to enjoy! Thrill Ville will be your home for the Fair if you enjoy wild rides and a good thrill! Thrill Town is for little Fairgoers to enjoy with kid-friendly rides. Thrill Zone will be full of adventures that will keep you talking about the great, Iowa State Fair! New pavers are being installed to provide a walkway in the entrance, as well as to better manage rain water. The new area will be beautified with landscaping to brighten up your experience. New to the Midway is a new admission gate and sidewalks along East 33rd Street to improve the flow of traffic. Construction is set to be completed in time for the 2017 Iowa State Fair.


Construction at the West Plaza continues. There will be upgraded landscaping, lighting and parking to provide easier access from the William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building to the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center and to bring a fresh, clean look to the area. Additional parking is also being put in place for events through out the year. 



The maintenance crew has been busy creating new displays in the Agriculture Building, as well as new windows on the south and east sides of Pioneer Hall. 



If you are in the area, take a drive or a strole through the Fairgrounds to see the improvements that are being implemented. The improvements throughout the Fairgrounds wouldn't be possible without the donations from Blue Ribbon Foundation supporters! 

See you in 70 days! 


Get Hungry

May 30, 2017

Fair food. Two words, deep meaning. DELICIOUS. Whether it comes on a stick, covered in powdered sugar, or smoked to perfection, it’s all amazing. Your mouth is watering just thinking about it, isn’t it? Why wait to bite your teeth into that golden corndog or warm soft cookie? Come to the Corndog Kickoff and quench that craving before the Fair even begins.

Returning for another year at the Corndog Kickoff are Applishus’s caramel apples, Barksdale’s hot chocolate chip cookies, Beattie’s Melon Patch melon cups, Brewer Meat’s turkey legs cooked on Hardenbrook Concession’s grill, and Campbell’s corndogs. It doesn’t stop there because Carl’s Gizmos sandwiches, Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters hot beef sundaes, Nut Roll Stand’s nut rolls and fudge, Dawghouse Concession’s pickle dawgs, and Hill Concession’s cotton candy will all be making an appearance again too. Blue Bunny’s ice cream, Cherie Schuler Concession’s sno cones, Iowa Pork Producer’s pork chop on a stick, Jalapeno Pete’s funnel cakes, McConnell’s Concessions A&W Root Beer floats, Turkey Time’s kettle korn, and Parlo Pizza’s wood oven pizza can be found again as well. If you get thirsty, your favorite Pepsi beverage or Mountain Valley Water can be sipped on as you enjoy the food spread.

NEW this year:
Thelma’s ice cream sandwiches
The Rib Shack Bacon Brisket Mac and “Chip Off The Ole Block”- raw edible cookie dough
Tiny But Mighty Foods popcorn
Iowa Turkey Federation thanksgiving balls
Fyfe Concessions cheese on a stick

For more fun at the Corndog Kickoff, check out the Altoona Lions Club’s spin art or IOWAX’s wax hands.

Thank you to all the food concessionaries for supporting the Blue Ribbon Foundation. We couldn’t do it without you!

If you weren’t hungry before, I bet you are now. Get your tickets today for the Corndog Kickoff so you get the chance to taste all of the delicious food before the fair even begins. MMM MMM!


25th Anniversary Campaign

May 25, 2017

The Blue Ribbon Foundation has been a key component of the Iowa State Fair since 1993. The Blue Ribbon Foundation was created by the Iowa State Fair Board in an effort to help save the Fairgrounds. They hoped the Foundation could raise the millions of dollars needed to restore the Fairgrounds. Since its inception 25 years ago, the Blue Ribbon Foundation has raised an amazing $135 million.

In celebration of our anniversary, we are hosting a 25th Anniversary Campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to celebrate our history while creating awareness about our mission for the future. Make a personal contribution of $25, $250, or $2,500 to join the Foundation and the growing base of donors and volunteers in our charge to renovate and preserve the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds. Your donation, no matter the size, will have a direct impact.

The proceeds of this campaign will be 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 renovations, building enhancements and maintenance to the Fairgrounds, ensuring the Fair will be a grand tradition for generations to come. You can donate online or fill out the donation form to help support our 25th Anniversary Campaign.

The Blue Ribbon Foundation and the Iowa State Fair have been on an amazing journey together the last 25 years, growing the Fair to the biggest and best it’s ever been. Wonder what all has happened the last 25 years? I started digging and put together a list of some renovations and fun Fair facts going back to 1993, the year the Foundation was created. I found it all really interesting, and I hope you do too! Click here to check it out.

The success of the Blue Ribbon Foundation the last 25 years would not be possible without all of you! Thank you for coming along this adventure with us, and being a part of the Fair that we all know and love!



2015 picture of the MidAmerican Energy Stage being completed--just one of the many renovations the Blue Ribbon Foundation has been able to implement because of your amazing support!  


Principal Charity Classic

May 24, 2017

May will soon be done and gone and more and more events and activities are starting up. This week the American Historical Truck Society National Convention is taking place on the Fairgrounds. If you find yourself traveling this way, take note of the alternate routes and gates to enter. There are lots of unique trucks on the Fairgrounds!

In 13 days, the Principal Charity Classic will take place at the Wakonda Club in Des Moines. Join the Blue Ribbon Foundation and the Principal Charity Classic June 6-11 to support the Birdies for Charity fundraiser. Follow the champion golfers and make a pledge for each birdie made during the tournament. You can donate a per-birdie amount for each birdie made during the tournament or a one-time flat donation. The Foundation receives 100% of every donation made and a 10% match for each pledge. For the non-golfers (as I am), a birdie is a score of one stroke better than par for any golf hole on the course.

The Foundation offers many opportunities for you to get involved this summer. Nominate an outstanding Iowan in your community who has a great work ethic and pride for helping others for Iowan of the Day. Buy your tickets for the Corndog Kickoff on July 8. It’s going to be a great time! Last but not least, join us during the Fair for all the great events and be a volunteer!

We can’t wait to see you all this summer!




Corndog Kickoff Drawing Near

May 23, 2017

The Corndog Kickoff is only 46 days away. The clock is ticking faster each day for us in the office. Speaking of time, there is still time for you to become a Corndog Kickoff Patron. Do you want in the door early, a reserved table, and recognized in the auction book? Become a Patron! There are many different levels to choose from including;

Best of Show- $10,000:
Exclusive Early Admittance
24 Admission Tickets
3 Reserved Tables
Logo recognition in Auction Books

Grand Champion- $7,500
Exclusive Early Admittance
16 Admission Tickets
2 Reserved Tables
Logo Recognition in Auction Books

Champion- $5,000
Exclusive Early Admittance
8 Admission Tickets
Reserved Table
Logo Recognition in Auction Book

Purple Ribbon- $2,500
Exclusive Early Admittance
8 Admission Tickets
Reserved Table
Name recognition in Auction Book

Blue Ribbon- $1,000
Exclusive Early Admittance
8 Admission Tickets
Reserved Table
Name recognition in Auction Book

Red Ribbon- $500
4 Admission Tickets
Name recognition in Auction Book

White Ribbon- $250
2 Admission Tickets
Name recognition in Auction Book

If you would rather just order tickets, you can purchase tickets online, by calling the Blue Ribbon Foundation at 515-262-3111 or by stopping in to our office on the Fairgrounds today. If you purchase tickets before June 30, tickets are priced at $100. After June 30, tickets are priced at $125. Get yours today!

The Corndog Kickoff is always a grand time with lots of food, activity, and FUN. Capture your memory of “What a Ride” the Corndog Kickoff was with your complimentary photo. With each ticket, enjoy receiving your complimentary photo taken by a photographer in front of our backdrop scene.
Hope to see you there!


(Check out these adorable tickets and invitations! Want one? Check out my blog above to see how to do so!)

Giving Program Highlights

May 22, 2017


Trees for the Fair

Some of the best things about our Iowa State Fair are the big trees, pretty flowers, and the overall Iowa landscape. Join the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s beautifying environment campaign! Help restore and preserve the greenery on the Fairgrounds by contributing to Trees for the Fair program. There are two available levels to participate in, the first includes a $100 donation for the upkeep and enhancement of trees on the Fairgrounds. With this, you will receive an engraved, personalized nameplate on a plaque in the Robert G. Horner and Sheri Avis Horner Service Center. The second level is a $1,000 donation; these funds will help to plant and care for a large tree on the Fairgrounds. Along with the tree, a cast bronze plaque with a personalized inscription will be placed in the ground at the base of your tree. These Legacy Trees will be approximately 3-4 inches in diameter and are selected from a variety of Sugar Maple, Sycamore and Oak Trees.

Shine On

Would you like to shine your light on your love for the Iowa State Fair? With a commemorative lamp post you can do just this. By purchasing a lamp post, you provide a gift to be enjoyed by all Fairgoers while supporting the overall renovation and preservation of the Fairgrounds. This program has two different levels. A $750 donation will provide a single globe lamp post to be located throughout the fairgrounds. A $500 donation will offer a lamp post to be located north of gate 15. A personalized plaque with your designated inscription will be placed on the lamp post.

Want to help in a different way? Check out all of our giving programs.