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.

Sprucing Up

June 20, 2017
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As part of one of our membership programs, you can become a member of the 1854 Society. As a member, your name will be engraved on a brick and placed outside of the Richard L. Easter historic complex. Recently, the Blue Ribbon Staff along with our summer interns, made the one block trip from our office to the courtyard of bricks. We spent the afternoon painting the bricks giving them a clean new look. We are proud to have an area dedicated to our Society members who gift our Foundation to continue to make the Fairgrounds a beautiful place.


(The interns helping lay tape and paint the bricks.)

Other giving programs you can become involved in include:

Block by Block Program
Building for the Future
Buy a Brick Program
Corndog Tax Checkoff
Courtyard of Celebration
Growing Our Future
Legacy Terrace
Shine On Program
Trees for the Fair

If you would like further information about these programs, please visit our website or call the Blue Ribbon Foundation at 515-262-3111 ext. 371.

Thank you for your support of the Blue Ribbon Foundation and its’ giving programs. With your investments, you help create the success of the Iowa State Fair, Iowa’s most celebrated tradition!


It's Always a Busy Time at the Fairgrounds!

June 15, 2017
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It’s another exciting week here at the Fairgrounds! There is always something fun going on around here. Last week the World Pork Expo was here and it’s safe to say that everyone in the office took advantage as we enjoyed ribs and pulled pork for lunch more than once! This week is the Red Power Round Up for people from all around the world to gather to see the history of International Harvester and agriculture related memorabilia. The Fairgrounds is used for A LOT more than just the Fair. It is great that it can be used to host various events that bring a wide variety of people to the Fairgrounds. Wondering what else takes place here? Check out the Fairgrounds events calendar here.

Projects around the Fairgrounds are another thing that keeps this place very busy! The project I’m most excited to see for the upcoming Fair is the new Midway and Thrill Parks. The entrance to the new Midway is still in early stages, but it is coming along and looking great. It is definitely going to be something to check out at the Fair this year!




The Red Power Round Up event has taken over at the Fairgrounds! 

Silent Auction Packages

June 14, 2017
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If we haven’t given you enough reasons to join us at the Corndog Kickoff yet, here are a few more! Take your pick at one of the 214 silent auction packages that you will have the chance to bid on! Here are my top five favorite silent auction packages:

Get a variety of fun things to do around Des Moines all planned out for you!

#41. Catch Des Moines
There is much to see and do in the Des Moines area. Here are some fun options.
• Take in an Iowa Cubs game with four tickets as well as a four person tour and tasting at Summerset Winery.
• Four general farmyard admission tickets to Center Grove Orchard and two burritos each Saturday from Farm Kids Burrito Stand at the Downtown Farmers Market.
• Four brunch buffet certificates for Gilroy's along with two tickets to a Des Moines Community Playhouse performance.

Donated by Des Lux Hotel, Summerset Winery, the Des Moines Community Playhouse, Farm Kids Breakfast Burritos, Center Grove Orchard, Gilroy's, the Iowa Cubs & Catch Des Moines


I never got to go to Disney World as a kid, but I sure would’ve loved to! Take your children on a vacation they will never forget!

#111. The World of Disney
Enjoy the Magic Kingdom with this package.
• Four one-day park hopper passes valid at the Walt Disney World Resort in Central Florida. They provide admission to a magical experience at each of their unique theme parks within one day.
• The tickets expire within two years and may not be used for admission from December 25-31 of any year.

Donated by Disney


I’m a country music lover, so these tickets to Alabama get me excited! You can’t get these tickets anywhere else.

#115. A Country Classic

Four tickets to see Alabama on August 17 at the Iowa State Fair plus backstage passes for a meet and greet with Charlie Daniels.
• Your seats are in the lower grandstand, section NO, row 1, seats 9-12.
• Four gate admission tickets and a parking pass.
• Before the concert treat yourself with four coupons for the Dairy Barn.

Donated by the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation and Midwest Dairy Association


These burnt items would be useful and make great décor in your kitchen!

#181. Good and Burnt

Burning wood is a simple method of creating a piece of art.
• A locally made burnt wood sign for your home.

Donated by Burnt Expressions


Calling all chocolate lovers! Here is the package for you.

#191. An Iowa Icon
The Palmer Candy Company has been a mainstay in the Iowa candy market more than 138 years.
• Enjoy a selection of their candies in this package.
• A fine crystal candy bowl with lid is the perfect dish from which to serve these treats.

Donated by Palmer Candy Company & Neal and Marie Fredrickson

Check out all the donation packages in the live and silent auctions in the auction book

Have we convinced you yet? Buy your ticket today! We can't wait to see you. 


Top 5 things you need to do at the Corndog Kickoff

June 13, 2017
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The Corndog Kickoff is loaded with fun and excitement. Don’t miss out on any of the fun at the Kickoff, use this checklist.

1. FOOD- It’s number one on my list because food is always the most important to me. Check out all of the food venders that will be at the Corndog Kickoff here. You will not go home hungry with this spread.

2. LIVE AUCTION- There are 30 wonderful live auction packages this year. You won’t want to miss out on these great items. Support the Blue Ribbon Foundation while coming home with some pretty neat finds.

3. SILENT AUCTION- If you are more into silent bidding, there will be a silent auction at the Corndog Kickoff as well. Over 214 packages await your viewing.

4. WINNERS CHOICE- It’s a 1 in 100 chance to take home one of the first five live auction items. Each raffle ticket is sold at $100. Only 100 tickets are available to purchase. The odds are in your favor. Make sure you get your raffle ticket.

5. RAGS TO RICHES- Purchase a rag to play the game. The auctioneer will flip a coin and you raise your rag up if you think it will land heads up. Keep it down if you think it may be tails. The winner takes home half of the pot. Special thanks to our game sponsor, West Bank.

Get your tickets by calling 515-262-3111, online or at the door. 

Don’t forget to check everything off of this list at the Corndog Kickoff. All of this excitement has me pumped for the Kickoff in only 25 DAYS! See you there!


Membership Programs

June 8, 2017
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Are you looking for a way to get involved with the Blue Ribbon Foundation? Check out our membership programs listed below!

1854 Society:
The Blue Ribbon Foundation created the 1854 Society in commemoration of the Iowa State Fair sesquicentennial. Funds raised by the 1854 Society helped renovate the Richard L. Easter Museum Complex and donations continue to provide archival quality storage needed for proper preservation of the museum’s historic pieces. With a $1,854 initial membership fee to join this exclusive fundraising group, you receive elite benefits such as gate admission for 2 each day of the Fair with VIP parking, 4 priority seats to a Grandstand concert of choice, access to 1854 Society Hospitality Suite and 1854 Society Shuttle during the Fair, along with much more.

Jake’s Club:
Join Jake’s Club and experience the Iowa State Fair from an exclusive vantage point! Jake’s Club, located on the 2nd floor of the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center, is a member-only VIP area hosted by the Blue Ribbon Foundation. The Club features a full bar as well as a variety of food options. It’s the perfect place to watch your favorite Jacobson Center activities. With a $500 enrollment fee for the first year as well as a $100 membership fee, included is access to Jake’s Club throughout the days of the Fair, admission to all of the evening shows and more.

Fan Fair:
The Fan Fair program is your chance to help restore the grounds of the nationally-acclaimed Iowa State Fair and purchase Grandstand concert tickets before the general public. For each $150 contribution made to the Fan Fair program, you become eligible to purchase 2 Grandstand show tickets during a special presale. 

Along with highlighting our membership programs, I also wanted to point out that we are one month away from the Corndog Kickoff! I’m sure the next month will fly by as we continue preparing to make this year’s event the best one yet. If you haven’t gotten tickets yet, they are available here on our website. Don’t miss out on the fun and everything the Corndog Kickoff has to offer!


Picture of Jake's Club located in the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center 


1854 reception at the Fair 

Live Auction Packages

June 7, 2017
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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!