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.

Rags to Riches at the Corndog Kickoff

May 18, 2017

The Iowa State Fair is only a short 83 days away! Who’s getting excited? There is still a way to celebrate the Fair before it even gets here—the Corndog Kickoff Benefit Auction! At the event on July 8th, not only do you get to participate in the auction, but you’ll also get to fill your appetite with some amazing Fair food and have the opportunity to play Rags to Riches.

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 is 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!

Want to participate in the fun but don’t have a ticket to the event yet? Don’t worry, there’s still time! Go to the Blue Ribbon Foundation website to purchase your tickets today or to become a Kickoff Patron! It’s exciting seeing all the auction packages come in and I can’t wait for the event! And remember; don’t miss out on your chance to go from rags to riches!





Participants playing Rags to Riches at last year’s Corndog Kickoff! 

Be a part of the GREAT Iowa State Fair!

May 17, 2017

May is flying by and we are only getting closer to the Corndog Kickoff and the Fair! There is a lot of preparing to be done for our big events.  As I continue to plan and gather donations for the Corndog Kickoff, I am also getting excited for all the fun we are going to have during the event! The skygliders are being put in, which makes the Fair come to life even more! Have you ordered your ticket yet or sent in your donation for the auction? There is still time!


Are you looking for other ways to become involved with the Fair and the Blue Ribbon Foundation? We have many different opportunities for you to get involved! Put your name or a special message on a brick, light pole or even a tree! For a donation of $100 your name will be engraved on a brick, placed at one of our many locations on the Fairgrounds. A donation of $100 will go towards the upkeep and enhancement of trees around the Fairgrounds. It’s exciting to go around the Fairgrounds and see all the names of people who have had an impact on the Fair! The Fair wouldn't be what it is today without the help from all our great donors and volunteers!


To get an even greater experience from the Fair, become a member of the 1854 Society or Jake’s Club. The 1854 society provides you many perks during the Fair that you can’t get anywhere else! Jake’s Club gets you access to a VIP area in the Jacobson Building to overlook the events that includes a full bar and a variety of food! There is no doubt in my mind that every person who comes to the Fair will have a GREAT time! See you there in 84 days!


Amazon Smile allows you to support the Blue Ribbon Foundation

May 16, 2017

Who doesn’t love Amazon? It’s convenient, fast, simple, and easy. You can shop for almost anything and everything all through clicks of a button. Did you know if you shopped on AmazonSmile you could support the Blue Ribbon Foundation at the same time?

AmazonSmile is an easy way for you to support the Blue Ribbon Foundation every time you shop, at no cost to you. How do you do so you may ask? When you want to shop on Amazon, go to from your web browser. During your first log in on AmazonSmile, you can select the Blue Ribbon Foundation to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping.

You can still use your same Amazon account, wish lists, registries, and other account settings all through AmazonSmile. The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible purchases.

Support the Blue Ribbon Foundation next time you shop all by a click of a button. Yes, it really is that easy!

Tags: AmazonSmile

Volunteer Information

May 15, 2017

Monday mornings are for getting things done! I have a list of things that are ready to get crossed off today. As we roll through May, Blue Ribbon Staff is becoming more and more anxious for the Fair. Everyone is getting organized and pushing through all of our projects and to-do list.

I have roughly 700 letters ready to be sent out for Volunteers pick out their shifts for both the Corndog Kickoff and the Iowa State Fair. Make sure you’re checking your mailboxes! 

Blue Ribbon Foundation Volunteers are those with a meaningful passion for the Iowa State Fair. During the Fair Volunteers sell water, merchandise, and the delicious Fair Squares. New for the 2017 Fair, Volunteers will assist in Painting Classes. You can sign up to Volunteer through our website on May 22nd.  If you haven’t Volunteered in the past but would like to receive information, you can e-mail me at  

Here’s to a productive Monday, I hope everyone has a great day!


Here's a photo of some of our prized Volunteers!

Meet the Sponsor/Business Relations Intern

May 11, 2017

Hi everyone! My name is Taylor Silvestrini and I’m the 2017 Sponsor/Business Relations Intern for the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation! I’m very excited for the opportunity to learn, experience, and have a hand in what goes on to make the Iowa State Fair such a successful event each year. As the Sponsor/Business Relations Intern, my primary role is coordinating and executing the water program operating during the Fair. In addition, I will assist with sponsorship fulfillment.

I’m from Des Moines, Iowa and just finished my sophomore year at Iowa State University! I am a double major in supply chain management and marketing. I stay very busy at school with volunteering through my sorority—Pi Beta Phi, being a member of the supply chain and marketing clubs, working at an herbs wholesaler in Ames, and playing on numerous intramural sports teams. I also recently returned from a live case study China tour over spring break! With this amazing opportunity, I learned about global operations and got to see the supply chain for Target Corporation from beginning to end!

Being from Iowa, I know exactly what the Iowa State Fair is all about! I’ve attended the Fair every year since age two. Some of my favorite things to do at the Fair include listening to all of the live music, walking through the animal barns, taking a ride on the sky gliders or through Ye Old Mill, and of course—eating all the amazing food! The Fair will be here before we know it and I can’t wait to see everything come together!


At the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China during my study abroad trip! 

At the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China during my study abroad trip!

At the Great Wall of China with some of my classmates. We all made it to the top! 

At the Great Wall of China with some of my classmates. We all made it to the top!


Winner's Choice Raffle

May 10, 2017

The summer has begun for the Foundation with all interns in the office. We each have different tasks and areas of expertise to make the events for the Foundation and the Fair come together. We are just under two short months away from the Corndog Kickoff! Have you ordered your ticket yet? It’s not too late! Head to our website or give us a call at 515-262-3111 ext. 371.

The office is starting to become a maize as we are constantly receiving donation items for the Corndog Kickoff Auction. There are piles and piles of unique and exciting items that you can have the chance to bid on! Get your chance at a Live Auction package early by purchasing a raffle ticket for the Winner’s Choice Raffle. The lucky winner will get to choose from five packages:

1. Four tickets to the Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals, located on the third base line. The game is on Friday, September 15. Donated by Dan Molyneaux

2. An eye-catching orange Sky Glider Chair to remember the great, Iowa State Fair! Donated by the Blue Ribbon Foundation

3. Four grandstand tickets to each race of the NASCAR XFinity and Sprint Cup Ford EcoBoost championships the weekend of November 17, 2017. Tickets include a garage pass to get an up close view! Donated by Housby Mack.

The 4th and 5th packages will be announced at a later date.

Purchase a raffle ticket for $100. Only 100 tickets will be sold! Don’t miss your chance! The raffle ticket drawing will take place at the start of the Live Auction on July 8. To purchase a raffle ticket, send in your donation with this form. The days will go by fast and the Corndog Kickoff will be here before you know it! I can’t wait to see you all there!


Meet the Donor Relations Intern

May 9, 2017

Hi everyone! My name is Kennedy Plowman and I am the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s Donor Relations Intern for this summer. I reign from the small town of Adair in Southwest Iowa. I will be a sophomore at Iowa State University this fall majoring in Speech Communications with a minor in Public Relations. My involvement with the Iowa FFA Association is what sparked my interest for working with the public and developed my social bug personality. I can’t wait to meet many of you throughout this summer!

Singing at the Parade of Champions. Photo credit Steve Pope Photography.

(Singing at the Iowa State Fair Parade of Champions. Photo credit Steve Pope Photography.)

I have always attended and been active with the Iowa State Fair in multiple ways. In fact, the Iowa State Fair is the reason my third grade self scored a brand new cell phone. If you know me, you would know that I love the stage and performing, however, when I was younger, singing in front of any type audience greater than my vocal instructor was terrifying. The Bill Riley Show was the incentive to receive that cell phone. My dad promised me that if I sang in one talent show, he would buy me a cell phone. I jumped on that opportunity and fell in love with the stage while I was at it. My involvement with the Iowa State Fair also includes being a Grandstand Usher, singing at the Parade of Champions, singing for the WHO Radio Iowa State Fair stand, and working with the Iowa FFA Foundation in the agriculture building.

The youngest Future Farmer of America to swing by the Iowa FFA Foundation Booth.  

(The youngest Future Farmer of America to swing by the Iowa FFA Foundation Booth.)

I am thrilled to continue my involvement with this GREAT State Fair. I am so excited to begin my work with the Blue Ribbon Foundation. I hope to see you at the Corndog Kickoff and back again at the Iowa State Fair.

Enjoy your summer!


In Progress

May 8, 2017

Driving around the Fairgrounds is not an easy task with all of the wonderful projects that are underway. Here are some of the projects that are in progress.

Construction on the new midway Thrill Park area continues with the placement of pavers to form a walkway at the entrance. These permeable pavers will also help with rain water management. With the expanded midway footprint, the area will be able to accommodate larger attractions. This will help in creating a family-friendly experience in the midway.

The West Plaza expansion advances with upgraded landscaping, lighting and additional parking. Fairgoers will easily be able to navigate from the southwest corner of the William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building to the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center

Pre-construction meetings are in motion for updates along East 33rd Street. Strategic plans to reconfigure the admissions gate and restroom facilities in this area are starting to take shape. The updated gate will be able to accommodate more Fairgoers and will be handicapped accessible. Sidewalks will be added to both sides of East 33rd Street and the open concept design will allow for better traffic flow around Little Hands on the Farm.

Maintenance has been busy creating new displays in the Agriculture Building and replacing windows on the south and east sides of Pioneer Hall. The floor in the Stalling Barn will be re-textured making the surface safer by adding friction to prevent slipping.

The Blue Ribbon Foundation appreciates all of the support from donors as we work to improve the Iowa State Fairgrounds. 


Meet the Volunteer Relations Intern

May 4, 2017

Hello everyone! I’m Abbi Gilson and I am the 2017 Blue Ribbon Foundation Volunteer Relations Intern. Next year, I will be a senior at Northwest Missouri State University. I am on the Northwest softball team which takes up the majority of the time. I am also involved in Lambda Pi Eta, which is an honor society for communication students. I love being a Bearcat! I am majoring in Organizational Communication and I would love to get a job with a Non-Profit Organization after graduation.

I grew up just south of Prairie City, Iowa. My memories of the Fair unfortunately are not in the show ring. Growing up, I was thoroughly involved in athletics and apparently I chose softball over animals. My memories of the Fair include going through all of the barns and begging my mom and dad to get me a horse or whatever animal I liked on that particular day. Aside from my bitterness towards my parents during Fair time, I always enjoyed watching my friends show their animals, seeing how much fair food I could consume, and going to different concerts.

This year, I will be working with the volunteers for all the different events the Blue Ribbon Foundation puts on including the Corndog Kickoff and the Iowa State Fair. I started working during the fair for the Blue Ribbon Foundation after my senior year of high school. I’m glad I have some background knowledge of everything the Foundation does and provides for Fairgoers. If you would like to get involved in volunteering throughout the fair, feel free to reach out to me at

For my first few days in the office, I have realized the amount of work that everyone puts into make the Fair successful. I can’t wait to meet all of the volunteers and continue learning about our great Iowa State Fair! I will see you in 97 days!


My brothers and me after a game

My brothers and me after a game

Working in Fair Squares

Working in Fair Squares

Birdies for Charity

May 3, 2017

We are officially down to double digits until the Fair! Only 98 more days until the Fairgrounds fill with people and endless things to do! That also means there are many tasks to complete in preparation for the Fair. Have you marked your calendars for the upcoming events the Blue Ribbon Foundation has?

Join us and the Principal Charity Classic for the “Birdies for Charity” fundraiser during their annual golf tournament June 6-11 at the Wakonda Club in Des Moines.  Supporters are encouraged to make a pledge for every birdie made by champion tour players.  There are two ways you can donate; a one-time flat donation or a per-birdie amount made during the tournament. For those who are unfamiliar with golf, a birdie is one stroke less than par, with par being the average amount of strokes per hole. The Foundation receives 100% of all donations and 10% match for all the pledges made. Only 34 days away from the Principal Charity Classic!

Be sure to mark your calendar for the Corndog Kickoff Auction on July 8! Come out and purchase an item or package that you can’t find anywhere else and enjoy endless amounts of corndogs! We will have a wide arrange of vendors to also enjoy!

And last but not least, mark your calendars for August 10-20, and come help the Foundation celebrate 25 years during the 2017 Iowa State Fair! I am so excited to meet everyone that participates in the Fair fun!