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 $165 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.

Barnyard Yoga is Back; Now With Llamas, Bunnies and Goats

June 11, 2021
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The Iowa State Fair always has something new going on and is full of things to try. Walking around to experience everything is tiring and seeing all the animals without being able to get close to them can be frustrating. But now an extended Barnyard Yoga program lets you relax AND get to hang out with some cuddly animals all at the same time. Three years ago, the Iowa State Fair hosted its first ever Goat Yoga program. During the yoga class the Animal Learning Center was filled with cuddles, cuteness and energy all around. Needless to say goat yoga was a memorable success, and it’s not only back this year, but has grown!

Barnyard Yoga is expanding, hosting one class with goats, one with llamas, and one with bunnies. If you are looking for something new to try, chances are you have never done a downward dog with a llama to keep you company, or a warrior pose with a bunny nearby. Come see what it is all about and make some new furry friends while you’re at it! (All experience levels are welcome) Registration opens today and costs $20 per class. The first 50 to register will receive their own yoga mat and swag bag to keep. Details on each event can be found below.

  • Goat Yoga- August 18 at 7 p.m.
    Goat Show Ring in the Swine Barn
  • Llama Yoga- August 20 at 6 p.m.
    North Side of the Cattle Barn in the grass
  • Bunny Yoga- August 22 at 9 a.m.
    Outside the Rabbit and Poultry Building

Registration can be found at the Iowa State Fair Website> visit >buy tickets. Or with this link.

Spring Newsletter: 2001 & 2011

June 7, 2021
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As we enter the month of June, preparation for the return of the Iowa State Fair and the events leading up to it are in full swing. Although some things about the Fair never change, let’s take a look at what the Blue Ribbon Foundation was doing ten and twenty years ago.

What happened 10 years ago? (2011)

  • Expo Hill underwent the first out of two rounds of transformations for the 2011 Iowa State Fair. The changes included a solar panel system along the MidAmerican Energy Education Center and a display showcasing the energy produced by the array and turbine. The renovations also added new landscaping beginning at the tram stop on Grand Avenue, creating a path with plaza areas along the hillside.
  • Donor Profile: Scott Little & Shawn Roorda

This duo’s extraordinary teamwork does not go unnoticed. Scott Little and Shawn Roorda worked together professionally for over 15 years and had both greatly contributed to the Fair through volunteer efforts and involvement in the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s programs. Together they teamed up to create a photoshoot for the Fair Squares project. Talent and teamwork are a fantastic combination to continue the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s mission.

  • In 2011, three interns were hired including a Public Relations Intern, Special Projects Intern, and Special Events Intern. The Public Relations Intern in 2011 happened to be the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s future Communications Manager, Drew Sniezek.

What about 20 years ago? (2001)

  • Donor profile: David Wescott 

Waverly, Iowa native David Wescott spent countless hours volunteering for multiple days at the state Fair each year. On top of the time he dedicated, David also made generous donations to the Foundation in the form of the brick, bench, and tree programs. David’s pride for the Iowa State Fair was evident in the contributions and dedication he shows each year.

  • In 2001, the Blue Ribbon Foundation hired one Public Relations Intern for the summer to coordinate the Iowan of the Day program and assist with the Corndog Kickoff.
  • “Some Fair!” Competition invited Fairgoers to share their perspective of favorite Fair memories through a 500 word essay. The top three entries received a Fair prize package.
  • A couple of timeless traditions included in this newsletter were seeking volunteers for the 2001 Iowa State Fair and nominations for 2001 Iowan of the Day.  


Some programs like the Iowan of the Day still remain in 2021, while others programs are completely different from 2001 and 2011. What remains the same is the spirit of service from the supporters of the Blue Ribbon Foundation that commit to ensuring a great atmosphere at the Fair for generations to come.


-Megan Decker, 2021 Public Relations Intern


A New Home for the Tractor Pulls

June 3, 2021
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The Iowa State Fair is constantly growing and changing in order to offer the best experience for Fairgoers. One of those changes was to expand upon a very popular attraction: Grandstand concerts. In 2018, the Iowa State Fair’s renovations included creating a new stage area, expanded seating and new restrooms. Grandstand seating capacity went from around 10,000 to nearly 15,000 and the number of headliner concerts increased from nine to eleven.

While this was great news for concert-goers, it also saw the hiatus of another Fair tradition, the tractor pulls. For the past few years concerts have been filling the Fair evenings with music and crowds of fans but the unmistakable roars of competing engines has been absent. The tractor pull debuted at the Iowa State Fair in 1968, when crowds first became entranced with the thrill of seeing just how far an engine could go. Fans would gather to see who could pull the sled, weighing up to 60,000 pounds, the farthest. Drivers would clamor to prove their engine was the strongest, many blowing smoke and bobbing up on their back wheels in the process.

Certainly this tradition was missed but not forgotten as plans for its return were in the works. Thanks to a generous gift from Denny and Candy Elwell, 2021 will mark the return of the tractor pull with the creation of a new home, The Elwell Family Park. This park, located just west of the grandstand will host two tractor pulls at the upcoming Fair and will expand to include more events and seating in coming years. This year Fairgoers can once again expect to hear the Earth-shaking roar of tricked out engines and experience the adrenaline rush of watching motor engineering being pushed to its limits –and maybe a few feet farther. 


Meet the Volunteer Intern!

June 2, 2021
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Hello everyone! My name is Gabrielle McCoy, but people call me Gabby. I am serving as the 2021 Volunteer Relations Intern for the 2021 Iowa State Fair. I am in the midst of my first few days at the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation and I am loving it! I have grown up surrounded by the State Fair.

I am a sophomore at Wartburg College majoring in journalism and communication with an emphasis in public relations and multimedia journalism as well as a minor in Spanish.  I am the social media and event coordinator for multiple organizations on campus. I am involved in Public Relations Student Society of America, the school newspaper, Dance Marathon, Homecoming committee, and the Wartburg Cheer Team. Growing up in Carlisle, Iowa I was involved in band, speech, sports, and 4-H, while also completing 900 volunteer hours. As a 4-H member, I was a Healthy Living Ambassador, spoke to congressional representatives in Washington, D.C. and served on the State 4-H council. My family has camped at the Iowa State Fair for over 20 years. I have volunteered at the Fair since I was little and worked as the Communications Assistant in the 4-H building.

I am so excited to be working behind the scenes at one of my favorite events. I can’t wait for the Fairgrounds to be flooded with people, especially after missing last year. I am most looking forward to working with all the volunteers that make the Fair happen while also sharing my passion for the Iowa State Fair.  

Gabrielle McCoy

2021 Volunteer Intern

Volunteer Opportunities

June 1, 2021
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 I have jumped right in during my first week at the Foundation and I could not be more excited. One way that hundreds of people get to experience the Fair each year is through volunteering. Each year the Foundation has around 1,400 volunteer positions to fill throughout the 11-day extravaganza that is the Iowa State Fair. The majority of these positions consist of selling bottled water at various locations across the Fairgrounds, as well as running our multiple souvenir stores.

In the past we have mailed out forms and created a master schedule for everyone. The days of mailing out forms are behind us, as we now have an online sign up system. With our new process each available shift is listed and sorted out by day, job, location, and time.

Volunteers are the glue that hold many of the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s programs together. The Iowa State Fair would not be able to happen without them. Our participants range from people who have been helping for 15+ years to people who are joining us for their first time. Each person receives a free 2021 Iowa State Fair volunteer t-shirt, admission into the fair for the day, as well as a single day parking pass.  Volunteers must be 16 years of age to volunteer by themselves or at least 12 years old with an accompanying adult. The sign up also includes a waiver of liability and permission for the Fair to conduct a background check. More information can be found on our website.

This incredible 11-day marathon could not be made possible without these dedicated and outstanding individuals. Are you interested in experiencing the Fair through the eyes of a volunteer? Sign up will be available starting June 2nd, 2021 at We hope to see you on our beautiful Fairgrounds, and don’t forget, next time you walk by a water booth souvenir store be sure to say hi! 

2021 T-Shirt Online Store

May 28, 2021
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What a response from the T-shirt contest! We received 47 entries that our panel of judges narrowed down to just six finalists. Not an easy task! It was interesting to see everyone’s take on what the Iowa State Fair means to them.  Thank you to everyone who shared our post and voted for their favorite design! It was exciting to watch the votes roll in and see what Fairgoers thought of the designs. Our winner was Michelle Walz from Ankeny, with a design that displayed the excitement for the return of the Fair.

The only shirt from the 2021 T-shirt contest that will be sold at the Iowa State Fair is the winning design, “We’re Back”. If your favorite design didn’t win and you’d like it in t-shirt form, make sure to go to the website and order your t-shirt before it is too late! All six designs are available for purchase until May 28th at 6 pm. 

Make sure to tune in next year for the opportunity to design a creative, amazing, Fair-loving t-shirt to represent what the one-of-a-kind Iowa State Fair means to you! 


Meet the Intern- Kara De Bruin, Sponsor Relations

May 25, 2021
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Hello! I am Kara De Bruin and I recently started as the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s Sponsor Relations Intern. I am so excited to be part of making the Iowa State Fair happen and to work with all of the incredible sponsors who help make it possible.

I graduated from Truman State University earlier this month with my bachelors in communication, with an emphasis in public communication and a double minor in photography and environmental studies. While there I was involved in Lambda Pi Eta, a national communication honors society, and was the service chair for Cardinal Key, an honors and service organization. As the service chair, I was able to coordinate volunteers from our organization with service events in the community.

My hometown is Pella, Iowa where I grew up on my family’s farm raising cattle and growing corn and soybeans. Showing animals and projects through 4-H at my county fair and the Iowa State Fair had always been a highlight of my summer. From photography projects to bucket bottle calves, I have done a little bit of everything the fair has to offer. Even though I have since graduated, I am not ready to stop being involved with the Fair just yet. This is just another reason I am so excited to be working for the Blue Ribbon Foundation. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to use my current experience and gain new skills this summer, all while helping to coordinate one of my favorite events in the state!

2021 Iowan of the Day

May 21, 2021
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Help! We need to identify the next group of outstanding Iowans to be honored as Iowans of the Day at the 2021 Iowa State Fair! If you know someone in your community with strong character, a commitment to serving their community, and a love for the state of Iowa, nominate them for Iowan of the Day.

Ten individuals will be selected from across the state to receive a prize package including:
• Four Iowa State Fair admission tickets
• An introduction on the Anne & Bill Riley Stage

• Four Grandstand show tickets for their day
• Use of the Iowan of the Day golf cart for the day
• VIP parking
• Accommodations at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown
• $200 cash

The selection committee looks for candidates with volunteer service, community/youth involvement, awards/honors, and who are individuals with exceptional personal qualities. We recommend using supplemental material to showcase why your nominee is deserving of this honor. These materials can include pictures, newspaper clippings and letters of recommendation.
Make sure to fill out the nomination form with your name, the individual’s name, and references. The nomination form is attached in this blog post, or can be found on our website,

Nominations are due July 1. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me at (515) 262-3111 ext. 378 or

Megan Decker, Public Relations Intern

Meet the 2021 Public Relations Intern

May 19, 2021
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My name is Megan Decker and I am thrilled to be serving as the 2021 Public Relations Intern for the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation. I am originally from a farm near Rockwell City, Iowa where my family grows corn, soybeans, and popcorn. I have enjoyed my time at the Iowa State Fair through a variety of involvements in the Bill Riley Talent Show, FFA, and 4-H.

I am a sophomore at Iowa State University, majoring in Agriculture & Society with minors in both General Business and Journalism. Prior to college, I worked in the Iowa State Capitol as a legislative senate page and an intern in the Office of the Governor. At Iowa State, I currently serve as the Student Body Vice President and am a member of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ambassadors,Salt Company, Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, and work as a fitness instructor. I have a deep rooted passion for the state of Iowa so I greatly appreciate the ability the Iowa State Fair has to bring a variety of talent, activities, and people together.

The 2021 Iowa State Fair will be here before we know it! From devouring Fair food, to enjoying a concert, or looking at incredible projects displayed from talented Iowans, August is going to be a wonderful time to see people flood into Des Moines once again for this annual tradition. I am most looking forward to having a part in recognizing incredible Iowans through the Iowan of the Day Program, and gaining a whole new perspective of what it takes to put on the Fair.

-Megan Decker

A New View

May 14, 2021
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It has been a month since I started my internship with the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation. I was so excited to start working! What an experience it has been!  Being an avid fairgoer, I thought I knew all about the Iowa State Fair and all it has to offer. Well I was wrong. There is so much more that happens behind the scenes to maintain and restore our beautiful Fairgrounds.
One of my larger tasks right now is coordinating brick orders from donors. It has been so wonderful reading the inscriptions people have thoroughly thought out before placing an order. There are some amazing and heartfelt brick inscriptions that share a very nice message or commemorate a loved one. Placing a brick on the Fairgrounds shows how much the Iowa State Fair means to them or meant to a family member.  Our brick program is a wonderful way to leave a little piece of your Fair experience for posterity.
Another task I have been working on is the Corndog Kickoff Benefit Auction and Fair Food Grazing Party. Entering patrons and creating lists and spreadsheets to make sure everything is in order for the event on Saturday, July 10th.  I am so excited to help pull together the Corndog Kickoff and be part of the sneak peak of the Fair. And I am more than ready to sample all the food that will be offered!
I personally love the Iowa State Fair and it has been amazing to see how much people love the Fair and how it’s a big part of their family tradition and favorite memories.

-Reegan Den Adel