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.

Looking for the next "Million Dollar Idea"

April 13, 2020
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Let’s flashback to the 2013 Iowa State Fair. With a theme focused on “Happiness Is”, there were plenty of new and exciting attractions mixed in with classic entertainment. The top new food was a shrimp corndog and improvements had been completed on the Cultural Center. The attendance reached 1,047,246. And… the Blue Ribbon Foundation sold 5,500 of a single t-shirt. (That’s more than we had ever sold before!)

The famous “Butter Cow Security” t-shirts were a huge hit! An unfortunate vandalism situation turned out to be an opportunity for Fair Fans and Butter Cow lovers across the country to support the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s mission.

Fairgoers lined up on Grand Avenue outside the merchandise trailer to buy a yellow “Serve & Protect” t-shirt. The creative idea came from Broken Arrow Wear. The local printing company had already produced some of the 2013 Iowa State Fair shirts the Blue Ribbon Foundation was selling.

The idea quickly developed into a design and shirts were printed. Those shirts sold-out almost immediately. The demand was high with entire families buying multiple shirts at one time. One simple t-shirt generated $100,000 for improvements to the historic Fairgrounds. This is a perfect example to show how people are passionate about THEIR Iowa State Fair. 

Fast forward to today. Merchandise sales have helped the Blue Ribbon Foundation raise a total $165 million for renovations over the last 27 years. The Blue Ribbon Foundation wants Fairgoers to show us their creative ideas. During the month of April – we are hosting a t-shirt contest

To enter, send us your t-shirt design by May 1. A selection committee will choose the top five designs. Those designs will be posted on the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation’s website and Facebook page with voting via Facebook “like” or online via our website. Voting will be open from May 11-18. The winner will be announced on May 19. The top three vote-getters will receive an Iowa State Fair prize package.

Click here for a complete list of Guidelines and Rules.

 

Fairgrounds Construction

April 9, 2020
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Normally the Iowa State Fairgrounds would be moving and shaking as spring arrives with warmer weather. There would be flea markets, horse shows, weddings and other events filling the facilities.  With the current guidelines set in place to mitigate the spread the Coronavirus, the Fairgrounds are closed to the public and events have been postponed.

But don’t worry, the maintenance staff has used the “quieter” time around the Fairgrounds to safely continue work on improvement projects. One of those projects is the renovation of the Livestock Pavilion restrooms. 

The restrooms located within the building have not been updated in more than 40 years. The only toilet facilities in the area, they are heavily used and in desperate need of renovation to meet modern standards. The updates will bring the restroom facilities into the 21st century, providing a better service to our customers and make cleaning them more efficient for our maintenance crews.

The updates include tiling the walls, installing metallic epoxy flooring, replacing the toilet partitions, adding solid surface sinks, new counters and improving the electrical fixtures.

You can be part of this renovation project by joining the T.A.G. Team. It’s a simple concept; Together we can Accomplish our Goals. For a $250 donation, the first 100 donors will be accepted into this unique group. Your name will be listed as a key player in the renovation project and you will receive a commemorative pin to denote your membership in the 2020 T.A.G. Team.

We haven’t reached our goal of 100 members yet – join today.

 

Iowa State Fair T-Shirt Design Contest

April 2, 2020
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Love the Iowa State Fair? Have a creative streak? The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation is calling all creative Fair fans to design a t-shirt that will be sold at the 2020 Iowa State Fair. Funds from the sale of the t-shirt will be directed to renovations and improvements to the historic Fairgrounds.

To enter, send us your t-shirt design by May 1. A selection committee will choose the top five designs. Those designs will be posted on the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation’s website and Facebook page with voting via Facebook “like” or online via our website. Voting will be open from May 11-18. The winner will be announced on May 19. The top three vote-getters will receive an Iowa State Fair prize package.

1st Place: Your 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

 

Entry and Design Guidelines:

 

 

Iowan of the Day

March 30, 2020
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The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation knows there are Iowans across the state stepping up to help their individual communities in this time of crisis.

Let’s celebrate the positivity in Iowa. Let’s praise the volunteers in our hometowns that are taking care of our elderly and children. Do you know an outstanding nurse or teacher in your neighborhood that is working hard to put others' needs first?

Nominate that special person to be an Iowan of the Day at the 2020 Iowa State Fair. The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation and Cookies Food Products are looking for nominations for the award.

There are so many people across Iowa that contribute to making our cities, towns, and state a better place to live, work, and raise a family. Now, more than ever - the Blue Ribbon Foundation wants to recognize the most deserving.

Ten winners will be named Iowans of the Day and each will be honored with a special day of recognition at the 2020 Iowa State Fair. Perks include an introduction on the Anne & Bill Riley Stage, $200 cash, use of a golf cart for the day, VIP parking, gate admission for four, hotel accommodations at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown and four tickets to the evening Grandstand event.

For nomination forms, contact the Blue Ribbon Foundation at 515-262-311 Ext. 371 or Info@BlueRibbonFoundation.org. You can also download nomination forms from our website. The deadline for all nominations is July 1. All nominees must currently reside in Iowa.

In a time of uncertainty, join the Blue Ribbon Foundation in keeping a positive outlook and celebrating what makes our state great – the people.

 

 

Giving Program Deadline - March 31

March 24, 2020
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Hello! Today I want to tell you all a little bit more about the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation's Giving Programs. There are unique and creative ways to make a donation, whether you want to leave a lasting legacy or be a part of this year's Fair. Gifts can take many forms and are welcome at every level. The deadline to make sure your item is in place by the start of the 2020 Iowa State Fair is March 31, 2020.

Block by Block - Located in the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center, a large colorful barn quilt represents Iowa’s heritage and agriculture offering six levels of giving.

Building for the Future - Located in the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center, you can leave a personal legacy engraved in granite on the west side of the building or have an engraved plaque placed on the back of a seat.

Buy a Brick - These bricks are used to help complete walkways in 15 different locations. Choose your location and what you would like engraved, it's a perfect way to leave a permeant legacy.

Courtyard of Celebration - Located on the east side of the Patty and Jim Cownie Cultural Center - celebrate a Fair memory with a personal message on an engraved charcoal concrete paver in the Courtyard’s plaza.

Growing Our Future - Located in Ruan Plaza there are 7 levels of giving. Your inscription will be placed on a “leaf” and then displayed with the other “leaves” creating a beautiful, colorful donor wall. 

Legacy Terrace - Located south of the Grandstand, in the Legacy Terrace you can either engrave a granite paver or place a plaque at the base of the tree.

Shine On - With multiple lamp posts across the Fairgrounds, your donation will help light up the Fair! 

Trees for the Fair - Your donation will help maintain the young and old trees on the Fairgrounds. You can add a bronze plaque with a personalized inscription at the base of the tree.

Make sure to check out all of the giving program details on our website. Thank you.

-Reegan

 

Meet Donor Relations Intern

March 17, 2020
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Hello! My name is Reegan Den Adel and I am the Donor Relations intern for the summer of 2020. This is my first week here and so far I have learn so much! I am very excited to see what the future holds! I grew up in Madrid, Iowa and I joined 4-H in elementary school and started showing my swine. I have always loved coming to the Iowa State Fair and I was so excited when I finally got the chance to show my swine at the Iowa State Fair.

I am currently a sophomore at Iowa State University. I am majoring in Event Management with a minor in General Business. On campus I am involved in Salt Company, Event Management Club and Dance Marathon. I have recently taken a non-profit class and was able to hold an event for a non-profit company. I love the events industry, I knew I needed an internship where I can work with people and the Blue Ribbon Foundation is just that! I am very excited to see where this summer goes but I am so excited and ready to continue this adventure!

 

Reegan Den Adel
Donor Relations Intern
Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation
PO Box 57130
Des Moines, IA 50317
515-262-3111 Ext. 377
DonorRelations@BlueRibbonFoundation.org

Those Super Structures

March 10, 2020
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“Those Super Structures” is just one section of the book: Our State Fair – Iowa’s Blue Ribbon Story. This history book describes the Iowa State Fair from the very beginning in 1854 through 2000 (The year the book was published). Each time I flip through the pages, I learn something new. Today’s lesson: the Livestock Pavilion.

Originally, livestock was housed primarily in temporary sheds and pens. In 1885 - 10 horse barns, 10 cattle barns, roofless swine pens and sheepcotes were built. There were also 50 wells, which supplied enough water for both stock and visitors. The frame barns were on the south end of the Fairgrounds, close to the railroad lines, which is how animals got to the Fair.

The barns were built in a circle, with each being equally distant from the show ring in the center. The structures were hastily built on a tight budget and maintenance became more and more common. In 1902, a massive building campaign included new barns that were built in phases, from 1902-1936.

One of those newly constructed buildings was the Livestock Pavilion. The Pavilion was the first masonry building on the Fairgrounds. It was used for 101 years and just like described in the book, repairs were needed. Renovations to the dilapidated building were completed in time for the 2003 Iowa State Fair thanks to an $800,000 donation by Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino. In 2007, Bob and Marilyn Schlutz gave a $125,000 to add air-conditioning to the building. 

Fast forward 13 more years, there are two restrooms inside the Pavilion that need attention. The Blue Ribbon Foundation has already secured a $30,000 grant from Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino. The Foundation is asking you to join the T.A.G. Team to make this project happen. Through the support of corporate and individual donors, together we can make improvements that all Iowa State Fairgoers can enjoy.

For a $250 donation, the first 100 donors will be accepted into this unique group. Your name will be listed as a key player to the renovation project and you will receive a commemorative pin to denote your membership for 2020. Donate now to join the Blue Ribbon Foundation as a member of the T.A.G. Team.

 

 

 

Interested in learning more about the Iowa State Fair's history? Pick up your copy of "Our State Fair - Iowa's Blue Ribbon Story".

Your Iowa State Fair Moment

March 6, 2020
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What is your “Iowa State Fair Moment”? Is it the first time you attended the event? Did you meet your significate other while standing in line for a corndog? Did your grandma take you on the Giant Slide or Sky Glider for the first time? Did you win Grand Champion in your livestock class?

All Fair lovers have at least one, if not several flashbacks that bring a smile to their face when talking about the Iowa State Fair. I have a few and it’s hard to pick my top moment – the first time I attended and saw LeAnn Rimes in the Grandstand or camping with my best friend as she showed cattle. On the other hand, maybe it was my summer as a Blue Ribbon Foundation intern or getting married in the Animal Learning Center. Just like every Fairgoer, I have MANY special Iowa State Fair memories.

In fact, 9,293 Iowa State Fair enthusiasts have celebrated their personal Iowa State Fair memory with a donation to the Blue Ribbon Foundation for an engraved brick. The brick inscriptions all across the Fairgrounds are unique and tell stories of people’s connections to the Fair. Some engraved bricks celebrate families, honor loved ones that are no longer here or truly salute everything people love about the great Iowa State Fair.

All of the Giving Program options are available on the Blue Ribbon Foundation website. The Foundation has unique and creative ways to make a donation and leave a lasting legacy on the Fairgrounds. Gifts can take many forms and are welcome at every level. The deadline to have an item in place by the 2020 Iowa State Fair is March 31.

Let’s commemorate those Iowa State Fair moments by supporting the future of the Fairgrounds with an engraved brick.

 

Old and New

February 25, 2020
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When flipping through old Iowa State Fair photos, you can see what the people, activities and buildings looked like when the event first started.  Compared to new photos, it is easy to recognize the many improvements made across the Fairgrounds. The beloved Iowa State Fair traditions have stayed the same but the facilities have definitely gotten better.

In the last 27 years, your donations to the Blue Ribbon Foundation have helped make those improvements possible. One special giving program is in full swing. And just like old photos – this program has been around for many years but it is still providing support for new projects.

The Corndog Checkoff is an easy way to donate to the Blue Ribbon Foundation on your Iowa Tax Form. Look for “State Fair” when filing your taxes and fill in the desired donation amount. Your gift is either deducted from your refund or added to the amount due.  Contributions to the Corndog Checkoff are fully tax-deductible.  

Every dollar donated to the Corndog Checkoff is directly allocated to capital improvements. The program has raised more than $2 million, and has supplemented restoration projects like the Grandstand to the current renovation of the 4-H Building. In addition, funds generated have helped improve the campgrounds, parking areas, sidewalks and restrooms.  

We invite you to donate to the Corndog Checkoff. All it takes is one little checkmark on your state tax form to help the Blue Ribbon Foundation continue to preserve the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds.

 

 

47 out of 100

February 21, 2020
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Since launching the 2020 T.A.G. Team campaign in December, 47 donors have stepped up to join the Blue Ribbon Foundation. Let’s make restroom renovations exciting and continue the momentum!

What is the T.A.G. Team? The membership group will be composed of 100 Fairgoers who want to make an immediate, positive and direct impact on our historic Fairgrounds by tackling a smaller renovation project. The 2020 improvement goal is to remodel the Livestock Pavilion’s two restrooms.

The two restrooms located within the building have not been updated in more than 40 years. The only toilet facilities in the area, they are heavily used and in desperate need of renovation to meet the standards of today. The updates would bring the restroom facilities into the 21st century, providing a better service to our customers and make cleaning them more efficient for our maintenance crews.

The updates would include tiling the walls, installing metallic epoxy flooring, replacing the toilet partitions, adding solid surface sinks, new counters and improving the electrical fixtures.

During the Fair, the Livestock Pavilion hosts livestock competitions, the Sale of Champions, and the Governor’s Charity Steer Show. The lower alcoves on the exterior are transformed into retail outlets selling t-shirts, space for food vendors and the Altoona Lions treasured spin art stand. The building is abuzz with activity. A bit quieter in the off-season, the Pavilion is used for many livestock shows and even hosts other competitions.

It’s a simple concept; Together we can Accomplish our Goals. For a $250 donation, the first 100 donors will be accepted into this unique group. Your name will be listed as a key player in the renovation project and you will receive a commemorative pin to denote your membership in the 2020 T.A.G. Team.

Join the 2020 T.A.G. Team. We welcome you to join the current 47 donors and help us reach our goal of 100. Thank you!

 

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