Making Memories at The Iowa State Fair

May 22, 2023
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Thirty years have come and gone since the creation of the Blue Ribbon Foundation. Back in 1993, the Foundation was established to conduct a major capital campaign for the renovation and preservation of the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds dedicated to ensuring the Iowa State Fair’s future. I would say the Foundation has done just that.

This is one of the many reasons why the Iowa State Fair is so special to me. Some of the most memorable moments in my life were days spent at the Fair, and I am fortunate enough to have never missed a year of it. I remember countless hours spent walking around the Fairgrounds with my grandpa. He would take me to his favorite spots at the Fair – the ones that just so happened to hold the most history. It was here we would find a bench, take a seat, and I would listen to what the buildings and barns meant to him. One of the most meaningful places my grandpa and I shared on the Fairgrounds were the barns, specifically the Cattle Barn. I was fortunate enough to grow up on a generational dairy farm in which we would show our cattle at the State Fair. There was nothing that filled my grandpa with more pride and joy than watching his grandchildren continue his legacy. I am sure most exhibitors know this feeling.

I always felt very connected to these stories, buildings, barns and the Fair as a whole, considering it was in these exact spots where my grandpa made his Fair memories many years prior. Without the Blue Ribbon Foundation and generous donors who make it all possible, these memories my grandpa and I shared together wouldn’t be the same.

No matter what your connection is to the Fair, memories and history are being made, even if you don’t realize it at the time. Like my grandpa shared with me, the Fair provides lasting stories that you take with you your whole life.

Thinking about these memories, there have been many improvements made over these past 30 years to ensure the Fair maintains its rich history while also ensuring its future. The Blue Ribbon Foundation is continuing this conservation by creating a program in recognition of the immense pride shown by our livestock exhibitors. “Back the Barns” is a campaign that will include a $25 million renovation to the livestock barns. Each structure will have dedicated restorations in areas that are vitally needed such as roofing, flooring, electrical, restrooms and tuckpointing to name a few. Members of the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s, “Back the Barns” campaign are those generous donors who have pledged $1,000 per year for 3 years in support of the Iowa State Fair’s historic livestock barn restoration project. Your membership can be paid in many ways:

  • A one-time $3,000 gift
  • An annual gift of $1,000 for a 3 year term
  • Quarterly gifts of $250 for a 3 year term

With this donation, you will receive a commemorative belt buckle that not only holds up your pants, but is also a symbol of your generosity in supporting the next generation! In addition to your one-of-a-kind belt buckle, your name will be listed on a plaque recognizing donors when the project is complete. Please consider backing our barns by joining in this campaign to enhance the Fairgoer experience and help ensure those lasting memories can be continued for many years to come.

I know I am beyond thankful I was able to create and share such special memories with my grandfather. This campaign will allow many others to create their own for years to come.

Like the Back the Barns Campaign, there are many other great giving opportunities you can be a part of to help maintain the Fair’s history and ensure its future. Check them out here


Thank you for your support!

  • Regan Freland

Donor Relations Intern