Renovation Updates

June 14, 2023
Intern's picture

The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation was established by the State Fair Board to conduct a major capital campaign for the renovation and preservation of the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds. Since its inception in 1993, the Foundation has raised more than $195 million, through individual contributions, state appropriations, in-kind services, and corporate, federal and state grants.

Since then, there have been a countless amount of both large and small restorations made to the Fairgrounds to preserve its history and ensure its future. Today I took a walk through the Fairgrounds to see the progress of the improvements that are happening right now. 

My first stop was Pioneer Hall. This building continually receives maintenance and after 10 years of small updates, the exterior of the building is near completion. Crews have finished repairing each side of the building and will finish the project by rebuilding the main doors. As the oldest landmark on the historic Fairgrounds, the care and attention to this facility is unmatched. It’s truly our history.

From there, I made my way to the Agriculture Building; a staple of the Iowa State Fair. This year, the north and east doors of the building are being replaced. The new doors are being updated with proper craftsmanship to match its historic style. Each custom door will be engineered for function and longevity, while following accessibility guidelines. The new doors enable better security and provide weatherproofing that will fix previous issues of large gaps and easy-to-pop locks.

After that, I stopped at the Public Safety Building. Safety is a key aspect of the Iowa State Fair and the Blue Ribbon Foundation, so ensuring all aspects are up to date is essential. This building is being updated to guarantee the facility is up to the high standards of the Iowa State Fair Police Department. At this year’s Fair, take note of the new two-story addition. The second phase of this project will include renovation of the existing space, scheduled to be completed in 2024.

My next stop was at Elwell Family Park. This improvement is the third stage of its multi-phase project, which entails adding permanent restroom facilities. This restroom renovation is a convenient upgrade for Fairgoers watching the annual truck and tractor pulls and a variety of other events including demolition derby and motorsport races with even more possibilities in the future.

Last but certainly not least, I visited the sheep barn. Improvements continue on the this building; the first livestock barn of four to receive a much-needed facelift. Major work has started and will continue to be done on the terra cotta tiles over entrances, renovations to restrooms and offices as well as restorations on the archways, column heads and east entrance murals.

It has been such an eye opening experience being able to see these projects come full circle. Many of them have been in the works for a long time, so being able to first hand witness the improvements being made is incredible. Thank you to everyone involved for ensuring the Iowa State Fair can be enjoyed for years to come.


- Regan Freland, Donor Relations Intern