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.

Meet the 2018 Donor Relations Intern!

May 8, 2018
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I am Savannah Keitzer and I'm honored to spend my summer working as the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation Donor Relations Intern. The Fair has always been the highlight of my summer, and this year will be the best one yet since I will be spending over 100 days here!

My parents went on their first date at the Iowa State Fair in 1985 to attend an Alabama concert, and our family hasn’t missed a beat since. I joined the family in 1997, and was raised on my family’s row crop farm in Mediapolis, Iowa. Being raised in production agriculture and being an active member of both 4-H and FFA led me to Iowa State University where I am pursuing a degree in Agricultural Communications with a minor in Leadership Studies.

During my freshman year at Iowa State University, I served the Iowa FFA Association as the Southeast State Vice President and enjoyed traveling the state to meet professionals, students, and supporters of the agriculture industry. I developed a great love for the number one state in the nation, Iowa! This year, I interned for the Leadership Studies Program for the Vermeer International Leadership Program and serve as the liaison between Vermeer and Iowa State.

Nothing compares to my moments at the Iowa State Fair! Whether I am showing sheep alongside my sisters, racing down the big slide, consuming gallons of lemonade, or simply enjoying the presence of friendly-competition, joy, and sunshine; I am looking forward to my 20th Iowa State Fair. More so, I am looking forward to the lessons that will be learned, the memories that will be made, and a summer I will never forget.




Iowan of the Day Flashback

April 25, 2018
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Since 1997, the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation and Cookies Food Products have recognized exceptional Iowans at the Iowa State Fair for their hard work, involvement and loyalty to the great State through the Iowan of the Day program.

5 Years Ago:
In 2013, Paul Venner was named Iowan of the Day. He has spent countless hours volunteering at Regency Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of Carroll and New Hope Village, being a member of the American Legion Post and mastering his own garden to donate his home grown produce to those in need.

10 Years Ago:
In 2008, Margo Fox was recognized at the Iowa State Fair by being named Iowan of the Day. Margo dedicated a significant amount of time supporting the Iowa National Guard. Through her efforts, she helped hundreds of families adjust to having loved ones serving across seas. She also organized send offs and homecomings of troops, as well as sending packages to soldiers. Margo also volunteered with the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation by setting up booths, selling water and merchandise and driving shuttles.

15 Years Ago:
In 2003, Kay Robinson spent her State Fair day as the Iowan of the Day. Kay managed a part-time job and volunteered numerous hours for American Red Cross, Iowa Council for International Understanding and sewing bib overalls for newborns at Iowa Lutheran Hospital. Kay worked relentlessly and many people benefitted from her good deeds.

As you can tell, these individuals really worked to benefit their community and were very deserving of a special day at the Iowa State Fair! Currently we are searching for more individuals that exemplify these characteristics and more! Nominate someone in your community that continually goes above and beyond today!

Macy Evans 


Spring Newsletter: 2018, 2008, & 1998

April 19, 2018
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What’s happening with the Blue Ribbon Foundation?
If you haven’t already, check out the Foundations spring newsletter. We shared important information on how you can be a Blue Ribbon Volunteer, how you can contribute to the Foundations mission at the Corndog Kickoff, how you can nominate someone for Iowan of the Day, and details about Planned Giving and Birdies for Charity.

This spring the newsletter featured Accu-Steel in the donor profile for their continuous support of the Blue Ribbon Foundation. Jason and his wife Alison, owners of Accu-Steel, donated a hoop-structure building in 2017. This hoop structure stores the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition center’s arena footing when not used in the building. The family is proud supporters of the Iowa State Fair. “The Iowa State Fair will stand the test of time. As technology evolves and people change, the Iowa State Fair will continue to hold the traditions that were created when it first started, and be a place for special gatherings and lifelong memories,” says Jason.

The Iowa State Fair preparation is in full swing as new projects include the John and Emily Putney Family Cattle Barn, the restrooms at the Administration building, the milking parlor, the Grandstand and East 31st Street.

What was the Blue Ribbon Foundation doing 10 years ago?
Construction was taking place on the outdoor arena and stalling barn east of the Swine Barn. The project replaced the arena west of the Horse Barn. Now the barn has 188 stalls. The project finished just in time for 2008 Iowa State Fair!

In the spring of 2008, planning for the Corndog Kickoff was in full swing! The patron program was included in the newsletter as well. Along with that, the newsletter shared opportunities to get involved and be a Blue Ribbon Volunteer through the Farmer’s Market, the Des Moines Art Festival and of course the Iowa State Fair.

Highlighted in the spring issue was Carl’s Concessions. Kirby and Carla Wood got involved in the Blue Ribbon Foundation through the Corndog Kickoff as concessionaires, offering their famous Gizmo Sandwich to attendants at the 2008 Corndog Kickoff. Still, to this day Carla donates to the Corndog Kickoff with her Gizmo Sandwiches.

What was the Blue Ribbon Foundation doing 20 years ago?
In the spring of 1998, everyone was celebrating a new generation of tractors! In honor of the historical relationship between the Iowa State Fair and John Deere, the Blue Ribbon Foundation was granted the exclusive rights to produce 3,500 limited edition John Deere 4010 collector tractors. The 1/16 model of the 4010 was the second series produced exclusively for the Blue Ribbon Foundation by Ertl Collectibles. With only 3,500 little tractors being produced, you can only imagine how fast those sold!

Susan Terry, party committee chair for the Corndog Kickoff, appeared as the donor profile in the newsletter. “I have never had more fun working harder than I did on the Corndog Kickoff,” said Susan. “In raising money for last year’s event, I found that people responded more positively to donating for the Iowa State Fair than any other organization I have been involved with. People have an affection for this institution that is unlike anything else I have ever experienced.”

It is so refreshing to look back on newsletters and see not much has changed, the Iowa State Fair will always be a longstanding tradition that we, as Iowans are so proud of! The Blue Ribbon Foundation thanks the donors that helped shape our organization, from 20 years ago into what it is today. We look forward to growing with our current and future supporters.

-Macy Evans 


Patiently Awaiting Spring

April 9, 2018
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Well, this is not the spring many of us were hoping for! Hopefully mother nature changes her mind and leaves the snow behind! No matter what the weather is like, we continue to be closer and closer to the Iowa State Fair with every day that passes!

I am beginning to organize and prepare for the Iowan of the Day program at the Iowa State Fair. If your father, mother, grandparent, neighbor, or just anyone you know, exemplifies characteristics that make them a true Iowan, nominate them! This includes going above and beyond in the community, being loyal, dedicated and hard working. If they receive the honor of being Iowan of the Day they will get $200 cash, four admission tickets for one day at the Fair, four grandstand tickets, hotel accommodations and more! We are taking nominations until July 1st, so do not hesitate to submit a form!

Each day I come to work, I can leave saying I learned another new way to donate to the Blue Ribbon Foundation! The Blue Ribbon Foundation is participating in The Principal Charity Classic’s Birdies for Charity fundraiser. Iowans have the opportunity to support organizations like the Blue Ribbon Foundation by raising funds through Birdies for Charity, by either making a one-time flat donation or a pledge of $0.05 or more for each birdie made by Champions Tour players. The Blue Ribbon Foundation will receive 100% of our collected donations and a 10% match on all pledges made through the program.

There is only three full weeks left of classes at Iowa State, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to be working full time, enjoying the sunshine (hopefully), meeting the other interns, and of course the Iowa State Fair! Make sure to mark your calendars for August 9th through the 19th and I will see you there!


2017 Iowan of the Day- Carolyn Scott

Concrete Statue Contest

March 30, 2018
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If you are like me right now, you find yourself day dreaming of the warm sun, cool lemonades and the 2018 Iowa State Fair! Have you ever participated in a contest at the State Fair? If you are thinking about earning yourself a blue ribbon, consider participaing in the Concrete Statue painting contest.

Individuals, clubs and companies are welcomed to participate. Simply complete the application with your proposed design by Monday, April 2. Judges will select applicants to pick-up the statue, paint it, and return the statue to the Fairgrounds. After the Fair, the statue is yours to keep!

The Blue Ribbon Foundation has painted a statue for the last three years and as a fundraiser -  they have each been auctioned off at Woodcarver’s Auction, held on the last Sunday of the Fair. Have you ever attended the Woodcarver's Auction? Mark your calendar for Sunday, August 19 at 3:30 pm in the John and Emily Putney Family Cattle Barn’s Penningroth Media Center. Proceeds from this auction benefit the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation, whose mission is to preserve and restore the Fairgrounds for years to come.

This is your opportunity to get creative and show your love for the great Iowa State Fair! As I wrap up another week of staying busy on the job, I can’t wait for the rest of the interns to join me on this journey as Iowa State Fair is quickly approaching. It is about 3 weeks until finals, and I have a lot of studying to do between  now and then. I am more than ready to start working full time at the Blue Ribbon Foundation office. 


Check out the Blue Ribbon Foundation's previous concrete statues:





Learning Along the Way

March 23, 2018
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As I finish up my second week on the job, I cannot help but feel excited for what lies ahead leading to the 2018 Iowa State Fair! I have jumped in, head first and started working on several projects that I will be organizing this summer.

This week I started organizing a gift card activity that will be featured at this year’s Corndog Kickoff. New for 2018, the Blue Ribbon Foundation is creating “Dining Delights” – a restaurant gift card activity. For a $20 donation, attendees will grab a mystery gift card as their prize. I'm seeking restaurant gift card donations with a value of $25 or higher to highlight restaurants across the state. Email me if you have an idea or would like to donate a gift card. For those of you that haven’t already, make sure to mark your calendars for this year’s Corndog Kickoff on Saturday, July 7. I can’t wait to see the items that will be auctioned off this year.

My main project throughout the entire summer will be to assemble the Iowan of the Day program. I am eager to meet Iowans across the state that exemplify the characteristics that make Iowa a uniquely special state. Do you have an outstanding volunteer in your community that deserves to be celebrated? Nominate them today!

I find myself learning something new every day. For the many of you Amazon shoppers, I have great news! Did you know you can donate to the Blue Ribbon Foundation just by shopping on Amazon? Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to a charitable organization of your choice, and you can choose the Blue Ribbon Foundation! For every new customer to make their first donation, Amazon is tripling the donation to 1.5%! Every penny helps continue the long-standing tradition of the great Iowa State Fair. Shop at to see for yourself.

As the Public Relations Intern - writing, posting and designing will keep me very busy! I am excited to keep learning and see where this journey will lead me as I challenge myself throughout the summer. 



Corndog Checkoff

March 20, 2018
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It’s tax time and that means it’s time for Iowans to consider supporting the Iowa State Fairgrounds with a donation through the Corndog CheckoffThe Corndog Tax Checkoff provides Iowans an easy opportunity to participate in the renovation and preservation of the historic Fairgrounds. 

The “State Fair” checkoff, nicknamed the Corndog Checkoff, can be found on line 57b of Iowa tax form 1040. According to Iowa law, tax filers may contribute $1(or more) to the Corndog Tax Checkoff. The amount specified is reduced from your refund or added to the amount owed. All donations are tax deductible.

In 2017, the Corndog Checkoff reached the milestone of raising more than $2 million to renovate and preserve the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The average donation has been nearly $10 per tax payer. There is still more work to do, more traditions to preserve, and additional buildings to save.

Iowans can join the Blue Ribbon Foundaton's mission by contributing to the Corndog Checkoff. With over 1.5 million tax returns filed each year in Iowa, every contribution counts.

The Iowa State Fair is a favorite destination a million visitors each year. The economic impact of the annual Fair is conservatively estimated at $100 million, with another $25 million generated from more than 200 interim events held on the Fairgrounds each year.

The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation is charged with raising funds to renovate and preserve the historic 445-acre Iowa State Fairgrounds. To raise the required funds, the Foundation seeks support through corporate donations, grants, individual contributions, planned giving, in-kind services, and the annual Corndog Checkoff.


Meet the new Public Relations Intern!

March 13, 2018
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I am Macy Evans and I am excited to be serving as the 2018 Public Relations Intern for the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation. I was born and raised on a generational family farm, which sparked my passion for agriculture. Currently, I am a freshman at Iowa State University double majoring in agriculture and life sciences education & agriculture and society.

At Iowa State University, I serve as the public relations co-chair for the 2018 Bacon Expo, as well as the philanthropy chair for Block and Bridle. I am a writer in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences professional magazine, CALS Connections. I am a member of Chi Omega sorority and CALS ambassadors. Within my community, I organize and facilitate a 5K obstacle course run with all proceeds going towards the Union County Fairgrounds and their capital campaign, Building on Tradition.

I have never missed an Iowa State Fair. It continues to be my favorite part of the summer. Whether I am competing with my best friend in a sweetcorn eating contest, broadcasting live about my Fair experiences on our local radio show, exhibiting my livestock, enjoying concerts, free entertainment, shopping with my mom or sampling every snack possible with my dad, I can confidently say that those memories that I have made will last a lifetime.

As I begin this experience, my passion for agriculture and my pride for the great Iowa State Fair continues to grow. I look forward to being a part of the planning team and behind the scenes action as the 2018 Iowa State Fair is quickly approaching!


Make the Impossible Possible in One Sentence

March 7, 2018
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What if all you had to do to ensure that the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation can be successful for years to come is to write a simple sentence? Sound impossible?

Securing the future of those we serve really is as simple as one sentence. By including a gift to the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation in your will, you can support our mission tomorrow without giving away any of your assets today.

If you are ready to include a gift to the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation in your will, contact Robin Taylor at (515) 262-3111 x373 to get the suggested sentence to add to your will.

Including the Blue Ribbon Foundation in your will is a popular gift to give because it is:

  • Affordable. The actual giving of your gift occurs after your lifetime, so your current income is not affected.
  • Flexible. Until your will goes into effect, you are free to alter your plans or change your mind.
  • Versatile. You can give a specific item, a set amount of money or a percentage of your estate. You can also make your gift contingent upon certain events.

How a Gift in Your Will Works
Your estate planning attorney can help you structure a gift so your loved ones will be taken care of first after you’re gone. He or she will include this sentence in a new will or living trust, or add it to existing documents through an amendment called a codicil. A popular option is to leave a percentage of what is left of your estate after other beneficiaries have received their share. This way, your gift remains proportionate to the size of your estate, no matter how it fluctuates.

Is Including a Gift in Your Will Right for You?
If you answer “yes” to any of the statements below, you’re ready to write the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation into your life’s story through your will.

  • You want the opportunity to guide decisions about the future ownership of your possessions and the legacy you leave behind.
  • You want to make sure your support of our work is still available after your lifetime.
  • You want to balance your generosity to us with an assurance that loved ones are taken care of first.
  • You want the flexibility to change your mind about your gift at any time.

How You Can Make a Difference
Every gift begins with an important question: How can I make a difference? If you have any questions about leaving a gift in your will to the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation, please contact Robin Taylor at (515) 262-3111 x373.

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Top Notch Maintenance Staff

February 20, 2018
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Money raised by the Blue Ribbon Foundation goes to improvement projects all across the Fairgrounds. Crews work to improve the Fairgrounds facilities - even in the cold, icy winter months. This February I’ve decided to tackle a home improvement project at my house. One of the bedrooms had a half wall that overlooked the living room. I had that wall filled in to make a true bedroom. With this construction project comes new paint colors, new room décor and hopefully a more useable space.

I can paint and decorate myself, but the actual framing and drywall was done by a professional contractor. I was amazed at how quickly everything came together. I wouldn’t have had a clue where to start and I’ve been impressed with the contractor’s skills. It just so happens that my contractor works full time at the Iowa State Fair.

That’s right – the Iowa State Fair staff is full of top level professionals, especially in our maintenance department.  The Fair’s staff includes an architect, carpenters, electricians, plumbers and mechanics. Printing, custodial and construction departments have high quality staff working year round to operate the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Last week was the Iowa Beef Expo, a showcase and sale of several cattle breeds. The event used the Cattle Barn, Pavilion, Walnut Center, Gammon Barn, and Penningroth Media Center. The Fairgrounds was buzzing with trucks, trailers and cattle. In the upcoming weeks, the Fairgrounds will be host to an agribusiness conference, dog show, craft show, boat show, flea market, and an archery state tournament. The more events on the Fairgrounds, the busier the staff.

Your support of the Blue Ribbon Foundation keeps the Fairgrounds in top notch condition. The improvements allow the facilities to host a variety of events throughout the year. There will be plenty of projects that continue this winter into spring. A BIG thank you to the maintenance department that creates and maintains the beautiful Iowa State Fairgrounds all year long!

My Home Improvement Project:


The Grandstand was originally built in 1909 and was renovated in 1997. By this summer the Grandstand area will have a new look with a new restroom, 4,000 additional seats and the brand new Kum & Go Stage. Be sure to check out the 2018 Grandstand Line-Up