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.

Get Hungry

May 30, 2017
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.


Rags to Riches at the Corndog Kickoff

May 18, 2017
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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!