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 $170 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.

It's Kickoff Time!

July 13, 2012
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3…2…1…it’s Kickoff time! Anxious and excited for Corndog Kickoff TOMORROW? I know we are! With one day away, the Blue Ribbon Foundation staff has been spending the majority of the week at the Varied Industries Building preparing the silent and live auction, set up and decorations for tomorrow’s event. Last night, volunteers arrived to get a run-down on how everything will be operating and learn how their tasks are essential for the Kickoff’s success. The decorations look great so far, but there is a lot more to get ready…good thing the volunteers are here to save the day again today!

Ready to see the Kickoff’s final auction packages, decorations and set up? I don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone, so check back Monday to see pictures, or better yet...we will see you at the event tomorrow! There are a ton of new, creative auction items that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to purchase anywhere but at the Kickoff! Doors open at 6:30p.m. and the event will conclude with a fireworks display at 10:00p.m.  If you haven't ordered your tickets yet it is not too late! Order them over the phone (515-262-3111 ext. 671), online, or buy your tickets at the door when you arrive at the Kickoff tomorrow.


Only 3 Days Left to Wait!

July 11, 2012
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Only 3 days! That’s all the longer you have to wait for Corndog Kickoff! It’s hard to believe it’s finally here, but we couldn’t be more excited for such an exciting event. This week volunteers have been helping out getting auction packages ready and soon it will be time for decorations to go up in the Varied Industries Building. Things are starting to really take shape as the stage and tables go up for Saturday’s big night.

On other note, the 2012 Cookbooks are in! Cookbooks will be on sale at the Corndog Kickoff, and if you have sent in an order, keep an eye out for your cookbook that will be delivered to you soon! I know I can’t wait to get one for myself. As a college student I don’t have any cookbooks of my own, but this seems like a very promising one to start my collection. As a reminder, any Corndog Kickoff ticket orders placed this week will not be mailed, but will be available at the will call tables at the entrance on Saturday. You can still purchase tickets for $100, so if you haven’t ordered your tickets, don’t hesitate to let us know how many you would like. We don’t want anyone missing out on Fair food and great auction packages! If you would like to order a 2012 Iowa State Fair 16th Edition Cookbook or Corndog Kickoff tickets please give me a call at 515-262-3111 ext. 677. Cookbooks can also be ordered online.


If you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email or give me a call.


A mere month away…

July 9, 2012
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One month is all that stands between us and the ol’ Iowa State Fair. I am beyond excited and can now officially start my countdown! But before we get to those unforgettable 11 days, we have the 16th annual Corn Dog Kickoff. The fair food grazing party, as well as the silent and live benefit auctions, is this coming Saturday, July 14th starting at 6:30 in the Varied Industries Building here on the Fairgrounds. Still want to buy tickets? Order them online, stop in the BRF office, or give us a call at 515-262-3111 ext. 671.

The week leading up to the Kickoff is now underway and things are starting to come together. Here is a sneak peek of the silent auction packages that will be up for bidding this Saturday. Make sure to check out your auction booklets that you received with your tickets to look over what will be available and what you would like to bid on! There are a lot of really neat donations that have put into sweet packages that will be hard not to want for yourself!

Have you ever seen the VI Building this empty? It makes me take a step back and really see just how big it is and how much can fit in there for those 11 days of the Fair. Soon it will be filled with sweet treats and fair food galore to celebrate and raise money for the Blue Ribbon Foundation and the Iowa State Fair at the Corn Dog Kickoff! And only a few short weeks later it will be filled with your favorite vendors, local companies, and of course Barksdale’s cookies. What’s your favorite thing to check out in the Varied Industries Building? As a current Cyclone, I always head to the Iowa State area and get my Cy tattoo!

Two years ago, the Fair Squares booth was created at the Iowa State Fair. Fair Squares are rice crispy bars (on a stick orf course) that can be purchased at their stand northwest of the Administration Building. This year, we are coming out with a new flavor and we are asking fairgoers to name it! It's made with marshmallows, crisped rice cereal, pretzels, potato chips, Oreos, toffee and M&Ms®. The winner receives 11 free Fair Squares - one for each day of the Fair! Entries can be submitted by following this link. Have fun and get creative!


A Sweet Tooth and Sweet Treats

July 6, 2012
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Having a sweet tooth is tough to resist around the office lately.  With the Corndog Kickoff a week from tomorrow, it’s rare not to come across a type of candy or treat in a single day.  Whether it is actually an edible treat or simply a decoration for the event, the Kickoff on July 14 is sure to be sweet!  Here are some sneak peek pictures of some decorations currently being assembled:

I can’t wait to see everything come together next week and all the hard work from the staff and volunteers pay off.  Don’t forget your appetite because an assortment of Fair food will fill the Varied Industries Building.  I know I will have to try and get a taste of as much as my stomach can hold! 

I would also like to thank all the 2012 Iowan of the Day nominators.  There was a fantastic nomination turnout this year and I appreciate all the time and effort people put into explaining the greatness of their nominee.  Only a couple weeks until winners are announced. Remember, if your nominee is not chosen this year, they are considered for three years!

Hope to see you at the Corndog Kickoff next Saturday!

- Jenna


July 5, 2012
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Things at the Blue Ribbon Foundation are sure getting busier this week! With Corndog Kickoff only a little over a week away, everything is started to shape up.

Fun projects have sprung up in preparation for decorating for the Kickoff. Centerpieces are being made and decorations keep arriving in the mail. Molly and I got to spend a hot afternoon in the warehouse on Tuesday painting things for the photo sets where Kickoff guests can get their photo taken. Getting to paint and exercise my creative juices with decorating projects has been fun!

Remember, tickets are now $100 for Corndog Kickoff. Make sure to order yours if you haven’t done so yet! Any tickets ordered after July 10 will need to be picked up at will call at Kickoff. Any orders received before July 10 will have ticket packets sent in the mail complete with auction books and bid cards so you can be ready to bid on many fun, useful, and unique items up for auction this year.

If you would like to order Corndog Kickoff tickets click here. To view this year’s auction items click here to view the auction book. If you have any questions about ordering tickets for Corndog Kickoff please give us a call at 515-262-3111 ext. 671.


Happy July, Iowa State Fair fans!

July 2, 2012
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This summer has been flying by and the State Fair is just a short 37 days away. As you all can tell by just walking outside your front door, it has been extremely hot lately. Here in Des Moines we have been getting close to 100 degrees for the past few days, and the heat is here to stay for at least another week! Everyone here in the office is hoping that this weather means that the Fair will be much cooler and easier to handle… A girl can dream, right?? :) Even with the heat and humidity, anticipation for the Fair is growing and August 9th will be here before we know it!

This week, the volunteer master schedule will also be posted online for volunteers to check out and make sure they are signed up for shifts that will work for them. We still have spots available throughout the Fair, so when you check your shifts see if there are any other openings that you could help out with. Remember, you get parking passes and admission tickets for the days you volunteer, and we would love to see you more than once during the Fair! The schedule will be posted on July 5th here on our website. If you have any questions about it, or would like to add more shifts you can email me or call me at 515-262-3111 ext. 679.

For all of our wonderful volunteers, we are quickly approach our Volunteer Reception! This year it will be held on Thursday, July 19th in the Elwell Family Food Center here on the Fairgrounds. All of our volunteers should have received there R.S.V.P. postcards in mail to remind them about the Reception. If you have yet to call or email me, please do so ASAP so we can’t get a close head count for July 19th. If you are unable to attend the Reception, we will mail out your volunteer packets in the mail right after the Reception. I am so excited to meet all of you and have a great year of Blue Ribbon Foundation volunteers at the 2012 Iowa State Fair!


Blast from the Past!

June 29, 2012
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Today is a busy day at the Iowa State Fairgrounds as the grounds have been taken over by the 21st Heartland Nationals Goodguys Car Show. Even though I know almost nothing about cars, it is still fun to look at all the different cars. Walking around the grounds today was a site to see as antique and colorful restored cars are lined up all across the fairgrounds. Having such a crowd stirs up anticipation for the State Fair, which is getting closer and closer!

Such a large event also brought many Fair food vendors to the grounds this weekend. Not to shy away from an opportunity to indulge on Fair food early, all three of us interns splurged to get the popular pork tenderloin sandwiches.

Corndog Kickoff is on everyone's mind's here at the Blue Ribbon Foundation. Don't forget, if you haven't ordered your Kickoff tickets yet to come and participate in the fun, there's still time! Tomorrow is the last day for $75 advance ticket prices. Any ticket orders postmarked by tomorrow, June 30, will qualify for $75 ticket prices. Any tickets purchased or postmarked after July 1 will be $100 per ticket. Cookbook orders are also rolling in. 2012 Iowa State Fair Cookbooks are only $15 plus $9 for shipping and handling. These cookbooks feature a wide variety of prize-winning recipes from the 2010-2011 Iowa State Fairs. If you would like order a cookbook or Corndog Kickoff tickets, email me or give me a call at 515-262-3111 ext. 677. Cookbooks are also available online and will ship around mid-July. If you would like to order Corndog Kickoff tickets, click here.

Get excited for Corndog Kickoff and the Iowa State Fair! They will both be here before we know it!


Iowan Heroes

June 28, 2012
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When I started at the Blue Ribbon Foundation in March, I learned I would be working on the Iowan of the Day program and immediately planted in my mind that the very important deadline for all nominations is July 1! Well…now July is just a few days away! Time has gone by so quick and this week has been the busiest so far reading through submitted nominations. When I come together with the Iowan of the Day panel of judges I realize it will be extremely challenging to narrow it down to the top ten Iowans to honor at the Fair. There are so many deserving Iowans that should be recognized as heroes of the state.

While reading applications, I have been learning about the many volunteer opportunities there are in Iowa that I would love to get involved with, the nominees have truly inspired me! Check out a few organizations nominees are involved with.

Volunteer Fire Department, Community Library Board, Church Committee Council, Keep Iowa Beautiful, Rotary Club, Lions Club, Salvation Army, Extension Council, United Way giving, County Museum Committee, 4-H, FFA, County Fair Board, Sesquincentennial Committee, County Foundation Board, Meals on Wheels, Restoration Committees, volunteer sport referees, School Boards, mission trips, Food Shelter volunteer, Memorial Day County Council, Park Restoration Council, American Legion, County Beef Association, State Fair volunteer, Women’s Club, Hospital Auxilary Board, and so many others!

Wow. The list of a variety of clubs and organizations is definitely impressive. Nominations are still rolling in these last couple days before deadline, don’t miss this great opportunity to nominate someone who impacts your community! For more information visit the Iowan of the Day webpage. You can email me your nomination or send it today to:

Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation PO Box 57310 Des Moines, IA 50317

Although it is my first summer working with this program, I know the past winners have appreciated and greatly enjoyed their honor at the Fair. Gerald Inman, a 2010 Iowan of the Day winner exclaims, “It was a wonderful honor! Thanks for all the extras that came with the honor to make me feel really special. It was a great day that I will never forget!” I look forward to announcing the winners late July, so don’t forget to check back for updates!


Last Call to Nominate Iowa's Shining Stars!

June 22, 2012
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Working with the Iowan of the Day program at the Blue Ribbon Foundation this summer, I can already say it will be an experience I will never forget. Although I only moved from Minnesota to Iowa a few years ago to attend Drake, the sense of Iowa pride has immensely rubbed off on me. As I continue to read through Iowan of the Day nominations, I can’t help but be impressed by all the people in Iowa who continue to surprise me in the greatest way. The Iowan of the Day program has opened my eyes to the amazing people who make an impact in their community. I have been touched by the remarkable and inspiring stories I have read so far in the nominations…and there is still time left until the July 1 deadline to nominate someone who makes a difference in your community! Starting July 1, the Iowan of the Day judges will evaluate each nomination and consider their community involvement, volunteerism, personal achievements, involvement with Iowa youth and their great impact on Iowa. Interested in learning about the package of prizes the ten Iowan of the Day winners receives? Get more information here! Questions? Feel free to call me, Jenna Mushro, at 515-262-3111 ext. 678, or email me!

July will also be a busy month preparing for the 2012 Corndog Kickoff, which is on July 14! The Blue Ribbon Foundation office is overwhelmed with auction package items that come in a large, unique variety! Here is a sneak peek: 

There is a lot of hard work put into the Kickoff by staff and volunteers, but there is still a lot more to be done! On July 14, more than a thousand people will gather in the Varied Industries Building on the Fairgrounds for live entertainment, Fair food and a ton of auction packages to bid on! I can’t wait! Click here for more information and to order tickets for the 2012 Corndog Kickoff: It’s a Sweet Thing! 



"Volunteers don't just do the work-they make it work."

June 19, 2012
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I have now been in the office for almost two months and I honestly have no idea where the time went! Can you believe it? There are only 50 shorts days until the Iowa State Fairgrounds will be transformed from a quiet, peaceful landscape into a grand Iowa tradition that will be filled with thousands and thousands of fair-goers wanting to get their favorite food on a stick and be a part of the 2012 “Fairlicious” Iowa State Fair.

I have now received about 400 volunteer registration forms and I keep getting more each day! Every single morning shift has been filled except for the second Sunday (8/19) of the Fair. Nice work volunteers! I am still working on filling shifts for afternoons and evenings for merchandise sales, water booths, and Fair Squares. I’ve learned that water booths fill up the quickest, but we still have a few spots open! Have you sent in your registration form? If not, click here to fill out the online form and be a Blue Ribbon Foundation volunteer! The master schedule will be available online starting July 5th. Already signed up, but want to take on more shifts? Awesome! Email me and we can get you into the schedule with more shifts.

Besides coordinating volunteers, one of my other big projects this summer is the Blue Ribbon Foundation Volunteer Reception. This year’s reception will be held on Thursday, July 19th, starting at 6:00 p.m. in the Elwell Family Food Center here on the Fairgrounds. It will give our volunteers the opportunity to meet other volunteers, receive a short orientation, eat a delicious meal catered by Campbell’s, and take a motorized tour of the Fairgrounds. Volunteers will also be able to pick up their t-shirts, schedule, parking pass(es), and admission ticket(s) at the reception. Make sure to look for your invitation postcard in the mail that will be coming soon!

As always, if you have any questions about the Volunteer Reception or the Fair please don’t hesitate to contact me! You can email me anytime or reach me via phone: 515-262-3111 ext. 679.