Beautification Project

October 3, 2023
drewnorton's picture

Did you see the beautiful new murals on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in August? If you missed seeing the unique artwork, come out to the Fairgrounds to look for yourself. Adding the murals to the Fairgrounds were one of the many highlights of the summer – a true beautification project.

A little history for you...

In 1999, a shelter house was built on the Iowa State Fairgrounds to provide a space during the Fair for organizations to host events such as employee appreciation days or family reunions.  The 2,700 square foot building was constructed with treated wood and wood shingles in a quiet location east of the Livestock Pavilion.

After its construction, the shelter house was used extensively.  During the Iowa State Fair there were two rental times available to provide either morning or evening slots.  Waitlists of organizations wanting to utilize it during the Fair was common. The shelter house was also available for rent throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons.  Often it was utilized for events connected with the many horse shows hosted on the Fairgrounds.  

With more than 20 years of wear and tear, combined with Iowa’s winter weather, the shelter house was showing its age and did not meet current Iowa State Fair standards or needs. There was no doubt that upgrades would improve the functionality of the space while making the shelter house attractive as a safe economical location for a family or business event.

In 2022, the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation received a generous contribution from Alliant Energy to build a new shelter house, called the Alliant Energy Landing. The new shelter doubled in size, provided paved ADA accessibility points, added LED lighting, and ceiling fans to help air flow on the hot August days. The space around the shelter was paved and the landscape was expanded. The new structure continued to be the only publically available rental space during the Iowa State Fair, now offering a larger venue for more event flexibility.


Alliant Energy gave another charitable contribution in 2023 to add unique artwork to the Alliant Energy Landing. An original mural now graces the concrete retaining wall and was created by local Des Moines artist, James Navarro. Composed of individual panels, they feature different vignettes celebrating what makes Iowa special. The artwork showcases farmland, wind and solar energy, raising livestock and agriculture education by highlighting 4-H and FFA. 

Beautification doesn’t always mean large scale projects. The Alliant Energy Landing also received some smaller improvements that made the space more attractive. Utilizing large pots filled with a variety of greenery and flowers softened the concrete, giving the space a traditional picnic feel that fits in well with the Fairgrounds’ park-like setting.  The addition of modern, ornamental iron trash receptacles shows that updating something as simple as a trash barrel truly can elevate a space. 


The small beautification touches of custom murals, flower pots and modern trash receptacles helped expand the marketability of the structure. Everyone utilizing the facility during their visit to the Iowa State Fair or throughout the year can enjoy the functionality but also an eye-catching visual display in the space. This allows the Iowa State Fairgrounds to continually stand out as a premiere facility for the state of Iowa. 

Thank you again to Alliant Energy for your support of the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation.