Where to Find the Blue Ribbon Foundation at the Fair

August 2, 2023
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Nothing Compares to the Iowa State Fair! Make sure to check out the several Blue Ribbon stands across the Fairgrounds! Whether you are looking to purchase merchandise, or need a refreshing bottle of water, we look forward to seeing your smiling faces at the BEST DAYS EVER. 


One way to remember and cherish the memories of the Iowa State Fair forever is through the purchase of Fair merchandise. Proceeds from these items go directly to the renovation and preservation of our beautiful Fairgrounds. Many new pieces can be purchased this year at the Fair! Some of these include:

  • The 2023 pieces:
    •  Isabel Bloom sculpture (Pie)
    •  Pottery Piece (Serving Platter)
    • Iowa State Fair Sticks Plaque
    •  Charm (Bee)
    • 30th anniversary ornament
    • Draft horse ornament
    • T-Shirt (Corn)
    • Lapel Pin (Elwell Family Park)  
  • Hats
  • Pillow cases
  • Pajama pants
  • Mugs
  • Butter cow ornament
  • Car coasters
  • Shot glasses
  • Pickle ball paddle set

Merchandise is sold daily at the Fair from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM at six locations across the Fairgrounds. These include:

  • Service Center (Main 'store')
  • Cattle Barn
  • Little Hands on the Farm
  • Agriculture Building
  • Varied Industries Building
  • Museum (This location features $5 t-shirts from previous Fairs and other previous year’s merchandise alongside this year’s items!)

Be sure to check it out!


Water Bottle Sales

If you’ve visited the Iowa State Fair, you know those 11 days in August can be hot! Be sure to grab a few bottles of water from the seven Blue Ribbon Water Booths across the Fairgrounds! These booths can be found at the:  

  • Service Center
  • Cattle Barn
  • Agriculture Building
  • Riley Stage
  • Little Hands on the Farm
  • Heritage Village
  • Thrill town

Water can be purchased daily for $3 a bottle from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Proceeds from your water purchase go directly to Fairground improvement projects.



Come out to the Grand Concourse on Wednesday, August 16 from 9:00 AM to 7:00 for a classic game of BINGO. For $1 a game, you have the chance to win half of the total earnings collected per game. The proceeds will go to support the Foundation’s mission. Celebrity guests will help call out the Bingo numbers throughout the day. These celebrities may include Fair Board members; so you won’t want to miss this fun opportunity!


Improvements to See

Thanks to many generous donors, the Iowa State Fair is constantly seeing renovations and improvements to help ensure the Fairgrounds keep its rich historical elements while also staying up to date. Take note of this year’s projects at the 2023 Iowa State Fair!

  • Pioneer Hall
    • Crews have finished repairing each side of Pioneer Hall's exterior and have finished the project by rebuilding the main doors.
  • Fairview Tap
    • Fairview Tap expanded its patio to provide more outside seating, allowing Fairgoers to take advantage of the beautiful scenery and view.
  • Agriculture building
    • The north and east doors of the Agriculture Building have been replaced with proper craftsmanship to match its historic style.
  • Back the Barns Campaign
    • Major work has started on the Sheep Barn's terra cotta tiles over entrances, renovations to restrooms and offices as well as restorations on the archways, column heads and east entrance murals.
  • Public Safety Building
    • The Public Safety Building added a new two-story addition. The second phase of this project will include renovation of the existing space, scheduled to be completed in 2024.
  • Elwell Family Park
    • Elwell Family Park upgraded to add permanent restrooms to the space. This will enhance the Fairgoer experience and create opportunities for more entertainment in the future!
  • Craft Beer Tent
    • Thank you to the late Tim Mallicoat - Concrete Supply Inc., Sonny Hall - Absolute Group and the Iowa Concrete Paving Association for their efforts and generosity in donating and facilitating the beautiful new surface at the Iowa Craft Beer Tent for all Fairgoers to enjoy. Be sure to enjoy the new space at the 2023 Iowa State Fair!
  • Alliant Energy Landing mural
    • Last year the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation received a generous $1 million contribution from Alliant Energy to build a new shelter on the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds. Thank you so much to Alliant Energy for their kind contribution. The shelter hosted many different events throughout the Fair last year and will continue to be used this Fair and throughout the entire year. One new improvement this year includes Alliant Energy's sponsorship of a mural.
    • The mural is painted on the retaining wall of the Alliant Energy Landing by local artist and Fair-lover James Navarro. Focusing on agriculture education, several panels will line the wall with different vignettes. Thank you so much to James Navarro for bringing his creativity to the Fairgrounds and to Alliant Energy for supporting the Fairground's improvements.

The Iowa State Fair holds high value to many people. That is what makes the continuous renovation efforts so special. Thank you to everyone involved who makes sure the Iowa State Fairgrounds can be enjoyed for many years to come!


Concrete Statue

  • The 2023 Concrete Statue contest features a tractor. The Blue Ribbon Foundation partnered with Sticks to create the design this year. Our tractor will be available to purchase at the Woodcarvers' Auction on Sunday, August 20 at 3:30 PM in the Penningroth Media Center in the John & Emily Putney Family Cattle Barn.


Iowa Auctioneer Contest

The Iowa State Blue Ribbon Foundation is happy to announce we are collaborating with the Iowa Auctioneers Association for their annual auctioneer contest at the Fair. Auctioneers from across the Midwest will be putting their selling skills to the test in the Iowa Auctioneers Association Bid Calling Finals.

This event will take place on Tuesday, August 15, from 9 AM to 12 PM on the Anne and Bill Riley Stage. Iowa auctioneers will be auctioning off various items to the public, with all proceeds going to the Blue Ribbon Foundation. Mark your calendar and grab a bidding number to enjoy this fast moving show!


Woodcarvers’ Auction

Come out and enjoy the thrill of watching Gary Keenan and T.J. Jenkins use chainsaws to carve masterpieces out of wood at the Iowa State Fair! With that, you also have the opportunity to take one of these unique carvings home. The Blue Ribbon Foundation hosts this auction as a hybrid with some items sold in person and others online.

In Person Live Auction:

  • Final Sunday of the Fair - 3:30 PM
  • Penningroth Media Center, John & Emily Putney Family Cattle Barn

Online Auction:

  • Online bidding opens on the second Saturday of the Fair at 10 AM
  • Closes on the final Sunday of the Fair at 5:30 PM

Fairgoers are invited to watch the wooden creations emerge as Keenan and Jenkins carve four times over the duration of the Fair at 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 3:30 PM, and 5:30 PM. This will take place between the First Church and Pioneer Hall.


There are many things to do and see at the 2023 Iowa State Fair that you won’t want to miss!