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 $200 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.

Local bakers, we need you!

May 19, 2023
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Bakers, bakers, where are you? The Foundation is introducing a new exciting opportunity for local bakers to participate in this year’s Corndog Kickoff event. We are asking for 25 local homemade bakers to make their favorite creations to be donated and auctioned off at the event. Currently, we have 10 of the 25 bakers we are looking for and want to fill up the rest of those sweet spots!

With each of these sweet treats, we ask for every item to be an auction package. Here is an explanation of what we are asking for:

  • Amount to bake
    • Enough to serve a table of eight and make an attractive package
  • Delivery of your items to the event
    • On Friday, July 7 between 9:00am & 4:00pm
    • On Saturday, July 8 between 9:00am & 12:00pm
    • Bring to the Varied Industries Building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds
      • Use the south overhead door to enter
  • Presentation
    • Have your item ready to set out on a table to be displayed and auctioned off
    • Covered, as there will be over 2,000 people there

The Corndog Kickoff is a great event to be a part of as all of the funds raised go towards the Fairgrounds renovations as well as it is a great night out with family and friends. We are searching for 15 more local bakers who want to showcase their best sweet creations! If you are interested in donating a baked good to the Corndog Kickoff auction or know someone who you think would be interested, please contact me, Faith, at or call (515) 262-3111 Ext. 379.

- Faith Kuehl, Business Relations Intern

Nominate someone you know!

May 18, 2023
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Things are heating up inside and outside of the office. It is officially summer for the interns and we are now all together and getting settled in. With the days passing by, that means that one of our favorite Iowa State Fair traditions is fast approaching. This tradition being our Iowan of the Day program. Iowan of the Day has been around 25 years and now we are asking for your help.

While many of you are familiar with the Iowan of the Day, some may not be. “Iowan of the Day” is a way of honoring outstanding Iowans each year at the Iowa State Fair. We are searching for individuals across the state who exemplify a strong work ethic, high levels of volunteerism and an exceptional sense of Iowa pride. 10 winners will be selected and each will receive a day of recognition at the Fair.

 On top of that, winners will receive a variety of prizes to make their day at the fair extra special. It will truly be the Best Days Ever for these outstanding Iowans. Nominations are due Saturday, July 1st. Nomination forms can be found on our website. Even if your Iowan doesn’t take the cake this year, they will be considered for 3 years after the submission of a nomination. Selected Iowans will receive:

  • Four Iowa State Fair admission tickets
  • An introduction on the Anne and Bill Riley Stage
  • Four Grandstand show tickets for their day
  • Use of the Iowan of the Day golf cart for the day
  • Accommodations at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown
  • VIP Parking
  • $200 cash

If someone you know is deserving of this recognition, we want to hear about them. Make sure to do your part in nominating them and honoring them in true Iowa fashion. For more information on the Iowan of the Day or any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Macy at or by calling: 515-262-3111, with an extension of 378. We are excited to hear from you!

Dining Delights!

May 16, 2023
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Here at the Blue Ribbon Foundation, there are many ways to give back to the Fair! Our key fundraising component is the Corndog Kickoff. This special event will be held on July 8th and is filled with auction packages, entertainment and all your favorite Fair foods.

Many activities are held at this event, with one of the biggest hits being “Dining Delights.” Attendees donate $20 to pick a mystery gift card of $25 or higher to a number of different restaurants in Iowa! This is a great way to discover a new restaurant or have a night out at one of your favorite places. What’s even better? You are directly supporting the future of the Fair while you’re at it! It doesn’t get much better than that.

Do you have a specific restaurant in mind that you would love for someone to try? A hidden favorite in your hometown? You can support them by buying a gift card and donating it to the Blue Ribbon Foundation for the Dining Delights activity.

Want to help out but don’t have the time to get out and purchase a gift card? Feel free to send in a donation and we can handle the rest for you!

Are you thinking you would like to be a part of this fun? You can be! There is still plenty of time to purchase your tickets to the 2023 Corndog Kickoff or reserve a table by becoming a Patron. We would love to see you there.

Thank you for your support!

- Regan Freland, Donor Relations Intern

Be a part of the Fair as a Volunteer

May 1, 2023
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The countdown is officially on to the last day of school. I am wrapping up my sophomore year at Iowa State University as I gear up for my final exams next week. With school being close to letting out, that means the best days of the year are quickly approaching, the Iowa State Fair! Speaking of the best days of the year, do you want to be part of the Iowa State Fair as more than just a Fairgoer or give back to the Fair and the Foundation? Consider volunteering with the Blue Ribbon Foundation at this year's Fair and Corndog Kickoff.

Each year almost 600 people volunteer for the Blue Ribbon Foundation assisting all Fair long to help with several different tasks around the Fair. As a volunteer, there is a variety of different tasks you could complete. One could be selling Fair merchandise through one of seven booths across the Fairgrounds. Some sell bottled water at one of the six booths around the Fairgrounds. Others could be running BINGO one day! Volunteers could even help host the 1854 Society members in Jake's Club hospitality suite. There are many things for a volunteer to do at the Fair!

The Corndog Kickoff is one of the Foundation's biggest events leading up to the Fair. The event consists of a fun-filled night with live entertainment, Fair food favorites, and a live and silent auction with nearly 2,000 attendees. At this event, there is a variety of different responsibilities a volunteer can do to help ensure the event is successful. Volunteers will help with tasks ranging from taking tickets to monitoring auction items to assisting in data entry.

Volunteers are a key aspect in assuring the Fair runs smoothly and is successful. The Foundation is a team of eight people, five full-time employees and three interns, which explains why we need all volunteers during the Fair. Without each and every volunteer, the Corndog Kickoff and Fair would not be possible to complete each and every year. YOU – outstanding volunteers – are the reason we are able to have the fun pre-fair event and the best 11 days of the year.

As a volunteer, you are the face of the Fair, being able to meet and interact with so many new people and gain a fun experience. Through each and every volunteer's hard work in selling merchandise and bottled water, all of the sales go towards the Foundation's endeavors to raise funds for the Fairground's renovation projects. In thanks to each volunteer, one will receive a complimentary admission ticket and parking pass for the day they work.

Looking at the next steps, once you have decided to volunteer, mark your calendar for June 1st, as that is when sign-up starts! Once signed up, you will want to make sure you attend the volunteer reception that takes place in July. You can learn more about this great opportunity. You can check out the Volunteer section on our website! If you have any questions, you can contact Meg at 515-262-3111 Ext. 370. We truly could not do any of this without each and every one of our volunteers. Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication!

- Faith Kuehl, Business Relations Intern

Corndog Kickoff Games

May 1, 2023
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Happy May Day! Last week I highlighted some of our upcoming events, one of them being the annual Corndog Kickoff Auction. While I’m sure most of you are aware of the Benefit Auction being the main component of this fundraiser, you may not know some of the other things we are offering. So, let me fill you in!

If you like good food and you’re not afraid to try something new, Dining Delights sounds like the perfect thing for you. This is a foodie’s dream! It involves gift cards to different restaurants around the state. For $20, participants will be able to draw a mystery gift card as their prize. We are currently welcoming gift card donations. We ask for gift cards with a $25 value. We would appreciate these donations from restaurants or if you have a favorite restaurant you want to share maybe you would consider donating a gift card from it. This way, you can support your local businesses as well as our foundation AND share your favorite restaurant with someone who might love it and share with someone else! Who knows, maybe you will draw one of your old favorites or end up trying something new that you may not have before!

If you’re always up for surprises, the Mystery Prize Game is probably for you. All you have to do is purchase a mystery envelope at the event for $15. Make sure you grab yours right when you get there though, as we will only be selling 250 envelopes. There is over $2400 worth of prizes, don’t miss out!

Some prizes in the Mystery Prize Game will include:

-2 ISF Grand Stand Tickets of your choice

-VIP Parking

-On-Grounds Parking

-$5 ISF merchandise coupon

-$5 in ISF food vouchers

-Admission Ticket

-Ye Old Mill Ride Ticket

-Sky Glider Ride Ticket

-Giant Slide Ride Ticket

-Free Bottle of Water

-Cup of Cookies Voucher


No matter which envelope you get, every envelope is a winner so nobody goes home empty handed!

Halfway through the live auction, we will be playing a 50/50 raffle game. You may purchase a souvenir bandana or “rag’’ for just $10 to participate. During the game, you will either hold it up in the air or down by your side. The auctioneer will be flipping a coin, heads being rags up and tails rags down. If you choose correctly, you can remain standing and will continue to play. If you choose wrong, you sit down. The game will go on until there is one lucky person left standing. Our winner will receive half of the amount raised from rag sales. In 2022, our winner took home $3,925! You could go from rags to riches!

If you’re looking for something new at the Corndog Kickoff and have a sweet tooth, you’re in luck. This year we will be having a Dessert Auction as another way to raise funds for the foundation. 25 treats from local bakers will be up for grabs so keep your eyes out for your favorite dessert!

Anyone that wants their sweet treat featured in this year’s auction can contact Faith at: or by calling the Foundation at 515-262-3111 (EXT. 379).

We are excited to offer these games again this year and believe there is truly something for everyone at this event. If you have any questions, or are interested in contributing to the Corndog Kickoff Benefit Auction, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We can be reached at 515-262-3111 (EXT 378.) We hope to see many old and new faces this year and hope many of you are ready for a night to remember in July!

-Macy loecke, Public Relations Intern



Upcoming Events!

April 27, 2023
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Back in the office again, finishing out another semester at Iowa State and summer is slowly but surely making its way to us! We have some important dates and events coming up and I wanted to remind you to keep you all in the loop and make sure you don't miss a beat! 

First things first, if you are interested in competing in our T-Shirt Design Contest, the deadline for submissions is next Monday, May 1st. Make sure to get those in for a chance to showcase your creativity at this year’s Fair! How awesome would it be to see your own design all around the fairgrounds?

If you’re looking to be involved in this year’s fair in a different way, you may consider Volunteering. We greatly appreciate our volunteers and would love to have you! Sign up starts Tuesday, June 1st. 

One of our favorite programs for recognition is getting closer by the day. If you know someone who goes above and beyond in their Iowa community, nominate them! Iowan of the Day nominations are due Saturday, July 1st and are considered for 3 years after submission.

Alongside the fair, one of our biggest events is happening Saturday, July 8th. Mark your calendars for the annual Corndog Kickoff Benefit Auction. Doors open at 6:30 pm for this fun filled event. You’ll be sure to get your fill of fair food with the Fair Food Grazing Party and find an auction item (or a few) you love!

If it’s not already, make sure the Iowa State Fair is marked, highlighted, underlined or all of the above on your calendar! Don’t miss unarguably the BEST 11 days of the summer, August 10-20th. Preparation is in full swing and we can’t wait to see all your smiling faces again this year. Counting down the days!

Another way you can help support our Foundation is to consider bidding on items at the annual Woodcarvers’ Auction. This event takes place the last day of the fair, Sunday August 20th.

If you enjoy being on the grounds in general like I do, you will appreciate some of the other events taking place here during the summer. Let it be known that while the Fair is our biggest occupant and event on the grounds, buildings are used year round and many other great events take place. Some of these events include Flea Markets, Polk County Fair, Junior Swine Show, and many others. Others event dates can be found here:

We hope that at least one of our events will be included in your summer plans if not many more. We are doing our best to plan and facilitate and cannot wait to see our ideas come to life. As always we appreciate your support and contributions to the Foundation. It certainly doesn’t go unnoticed!

-Macy Loecke, Public Relations Intern

SkyGlider At Sunset During the 2022 ISF. Volunteers from the 2022 ISF helping to sell merchandise. 2022 IOTD Program.

Calling all local bakers!

April 24, 2023
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One of the best summer events, besides the Fair of course, is approaching in just a short couple of months. Can you guess what it is? If you said the Corndog Kickoff, then you are correct! This event is coming around the corner, and so much planning is going on currently to make the event a success. I am so excited to be able to attend my first Corndog Kickoff event this summer!

Each year there is an outstanding live and silent auction at the event with many unique items ranging from event tickets, dream vacations, artwork, décor, and so much more! However, something sweet has been missing from this awesome set of items…baked goods! This year the Foundation wants to add some sweet treats to the lineup.

We are looking for 25 local, homemade bakers who love to bake and want to show their support to the Fair and be featured in this year’s Corndog Kickoff auction. These items can range from cookies to brownies to pies or any sweet creation you want to make. If you are interested in donating a baked good to the Corndog Kickoff auction, please contact me, Faith, at or call (515) 262-3111 Ext. 379.

- Faith Kuehl, Business Relations Intern

Concrete Statue Contest

April 20, 2023
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 April 20, 2023 

It's been a rainy morning here in Des Moines and the Fair and sunshine are on my mind. Although it seems far away, luckily, we are another day closer to the best 11 days of the year! There is still plenty to do and I'm sure the time will fly by. Finals are approaching and soon all of the interns will be together! 

Each year the Fair brings new and old traditions. One of our favorites here at the Blue Ribbon Foundation is the Concrete Statue Contest. This contest promotes creativity and orginality. Individuals, clubs and companies are encouraged to participate. A new statue design is presented every year and contestants with the best proposal for the design are selected by judges based off of a sketch on their applications. This year's design is a tractor statue. It weighs nearly 150 pounds and is solely concrete. Previous statues over the years have included a barn, a camper, a pig and many other designs. 

Since 2015, the Blue Ribbon Foundation has been partnering with Sticks, an art gallery in Des Moines, to create a fun and unique statue painted by some of areas' most talented artists. We have been fortunate to keep this tradition going with Sticks, and are excited to partner with them again this year. It is always so fun to see what creative ideas they have and to watch them come to life on our statue. 

Statues from the contest will be displayed all throughout the Fairgrounds in different places. Keep an eye out for the tractor statues and see how many you can find! While contestants are welcome to take theirs home after the Fair, you will find ours being auctioned off in the annual Woodcarvers' Auction. This takes place the last Sunday of the Fair. Mark your calendars for this year's, Sunday August 20th. The auction will be held in the John and Emily Putney Cattle Barn's Penningroth Media Center at 3:30 PM. 

As we start to round out another fun and busy week here, I can't help but anticipate the upcoming summer and Fair. So many exciting things are underway and I can't wait to show you more of the things we have been working on. Make sure to keep up with our blogs and remember, one day closer! 

Macy Loecke, Public Relations Intern 

Check out this year's statue and some past statues: 


Design the 2023 Iowa State Fair T-Shirt today!

April 19, 2023
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Are you or do you know someone who has what it takes to create the 2023 Iowa State Fair T-shirt? The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation is once again sponsoring a T-shirt contest where one lucky winner will be able to showcase their design in the official Iowa State Fair Store. Everyone is welcome to enter an original design that shows the artist's creative skills and captures the Fair's essence.

With the summer months approaching quickly, that also means the deadline for this contest is approaching as designs are DUE MAY 1! If you want to enter your design into this year's contest, all you have to do is send us your design. Once all designs have been received, each will be sent to a selection committee that will choose the top five designs. These five designs will then be posted to the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation's Facebook for the public to vote for the winner, which will be announced on May 16!

Now not only will the first-place winner get their design sold in the official Iowa State Fair store, but the top three winners will receive a special Iowa State Fair prize; these prizes include the following:

1st Place

  • Your T-shirt design is produced to sell at the Iowa State Fair 
  • 2 T-shirts, 2 gate admission tickets, 2 Fair Value Packs, 2 tickets to the Grandstand concert of your choice, $50 in food coupons and parking for a select day at the Fair

2nd Place

  • 2 gate admission tickets, $25 in food coupons and parking for a select day at the Fair

3rd Place

  • 2 gate admission tickets and $25 in food coupons

This contest is an awesome opportunity to get your creativity on display for possibly all Fairgoers to see and support the Fair, as all of the funds from each t-shirt sale will go towards renovation projects to improve our historic Fairgrounds. If you are interested in entering a design, read more about the guidelines and rules to ensure your design will be eligible. Make sure to submit your design by May 1! Below is the winning design from last year!

You can send your designs to or by mail to the following address:

                Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation
                PO Box 57130
                Des Moines, IA 50317

If you have any questions, please email or call (515) 262-3111 Ext 371.

Recognizing outstanding Iowans

April 13, 2023
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April 13, 2023 

It has been a few weeks now since I have started with the foundation and I have been loving it so far! One of my big responsibilities is to coordinate the "Iowan of the Day" program at the fair. 

The "Iowan of the Day" program annually recognizes 10 oustanding Iowans at the Iowa State Fair. Winners are typically nominated by family, friends or members of their community that believe they go above and beyond and deserve recognition for their dedication to their communities based on service or something great they're doing to better their community.

Winners of the program will be granted some awesome prizes from the foundation such as 4 fair admission tickets along with VIP parking, introduction and recognition on the Anne and Bill Riley Stage, 4 tickets to the grandstand act of the night, $200 cash (perfect to try some of our favorite fair foods), use of the golf cart for the day and if that wasn't enough, a comfy stay at the Marriott Downtown Des Moines after the long (but very fun) day at the fair. Our goal is to treat our winners as royalty! 

If this made you think of someone that deserves recognition, don't hesitate to nominate them! Your nominaion will be considered for 3 years after submission and nominations are due July 1st of this year. Nomination forms can be found here on our website under events, "Iowan of the Day" and can be downloaded and filled with the nominees' information. Any questions can be directed to me, Macy, my email is: and I would be happy to help! 

Our winners from last year include: Kristin Swift-Bondurant, Deborah Whitaker-Keokuk, Barb Westercamp-Cedar Rapids, Doug Sienknecht-Gladbrook, Emerson Bendickson-Panora, Janet and Dave Ritchie-Knoxville, Kathy Jo Porter-Waterloo, Bonnie Wood-Pocahontas, Amy Ryan-Forest City and Jeannine Lilijedahl from Essex. You can read more about each of these oustanding Iowans and their stories under "2022 Winners" in the Iowan of the Day section here on our website. If you don't already, maybe next year you will recognize some of the names of our winners...happy nominating! 

-Macy Loecke, Public Relations Intern