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.

'Tis the Season

December 12, 2011
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December is here which means Thanksgiving is over, Black Friday madness has come and gone, and it is time to think about Christmas and everything that goes along with it. It seems that Christmas season has entered with a bang, and we kicked off December with a fresh blanket of snow to welcome it in.

Blue Ribbon Foundation Christmas Tree

As I've spent the past week decorating around the office and home, there have been a lot of things on my mind involving the holidays. As someone that is recently engaged, one of the biggest things on my mind is incorporating a new family into my holiday routine. That means extra family gatherings to attend, more holiday treats to bake, and most of all, more presents to buy.

I often have a hard time thinking of fun and meaningful gift ideas for the ones that I love. As someone who grew up with a passion for the Iowa State Fair, I always loved collecting items that reminded me of those wonderful 11 days in August. This year, when thinking about gifts for that Fair lover in your life, head over to our online Iowa State Fair merchandise store and give them something that will help them remember their favorite memories of the Fair all year round.

Happy Holidays from all of us at the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation!

Snow on the Fairgrounds!

December 9, 2011
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I’m not a huge fan of winter, but, if it’s going to be cold outside, it might as well snow! I snapped a couple of shots this morning as I came into work…it’s a little different from the scene you’re used to seeing in August!

Also, here’s a quick recap of the end of the Fall since we’ve been out of touch:

  • The annual 5K went great! We had a record number of participants and the weather was beautiful!
  • We had a change in staffing as well. Jenna Reece is our new sponsorship director, taking the place of Emily Saveraid. Jenna will be blogging soon so you will get to know her as well!
  • I attended the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) annual conference in Las Vegas the last week in November. It was a great conference and our Fair Manager and CEO, Gary Slater, will be the chair at next year’s convention, so we will preparing all year to help put on a great event.
  • Blue Ribbon staff has been preparing for our annual holiday party that will take place next week in the Jacobson Center.

December is already flying by and the holidays will come and go before we know it! Be sure to check out the great State Fair merchandise we have for sale in our online store if you still have some shopping to do!

Sign Up!

October 10, 2011
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Help make this year’s 5K one for the books and sign up today!  For the 5th anniversary, my goal is to have at least 500 participants…and we need your help to do it! By adding a one mile walk and a kids’ run we hope we can get some more people to join us. It’s a great way to get some exercise, plus see the beautiful Fairgrounds in the off-season. And, for you serious runners, we are going with RFID timing this year – the most modern timing system available!

Besides the good feeling you’ll get from helping out the Fair, participants also receive a long sleeve t-shirt and goodie bag with their registration fee. Sign up soon to get the discounted rate of $20; the price goes up to $25 starting October 22nd. Race day registration is also available for $30.

Check out this year’s shirt:

Oh, and did I forget to mention door prizes and refreshments after the race? There are so many reasons to join us on November 6, so don’t miss out! For all of the details about the event, be sure to visit our website.

Looking Ahead

October 4, 2011
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The past couple of days, the Fair and Foundation staff as well as the Fair Board, have been meeting to review the 2011 Fair and to look ahead to 2012. In looking back, we quickly realized how many things we’ve accomplished in the past year. From adding Kids Zone, to new, fun activities featuring the Butter Cow, we hope we’ve been able to enhance the Fair for each and every one of you! 

One project in which only phase one was completed for the 2011 Fair is Expo Hill. Were you at the Fair to see our progress? If not, here’s what it looked like:

Now that the Fair is over, phase two can begin! We are envisioning a stage area that will feature a solar powered cover. We will also be adding another walking path on the northwest side (right by the Foundation office!) for another access point.

We’ll also be adding additional solar cooling benches and other features.

If you’re out on the Fairgrounds this fall, take a walk up to Expo Hill. The new walking path makes it easy to get to the top of the hill. Once you’re up there, you’ll notice that Expo Hill provides a wonderful view of the Fairgrounds and the Des Moines skyline.  It’s worth the walk!

We hope that you enjoy the changes we’re making to the grounds to make your Fair experience even better! And don’t forget to sign up for the Fairgrounds 5K where you’ll get a current view of the progress!

Blue Ribbon Internships

September 28, 2011
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Now that the Fair is all wrapped up, it’s pretty quiet around here. Partly because it just not as busy and partly because we lose half of our staff…aka our much appreciated summer interns. Just when they get the hang of the everyday craziness of the Fair, they leave us to finish their senior year, only hours later.

For those of you who follow our blog, you can vouch for how great our interns were this year. They each posted once a week to keep you up to date on Foundation activities, and quite frankly its making my job difficult to keep up on my postings now that they’re gone. A special thank you to our three amazing interns Drew, Kristen and Trista for their hard work this summer!

Allyson, Emily, Drew and Trista pose with volunteer Andy Schlumbohm at the Corndog Kickoff.


Kristen and Drew on the last day of the Fair.

Trista and Kristen all dressed up for the Kickoff.

If you know of any hard-working, motivated college students in their junior year, who love the Fair, be sure to send them our way! We are looking for spring and summer interns to help us plan for the 2012 Fair. A full description of the available positions can be found here. The deadline is December 31, 2011.

As a previous Foundation intern myself, I can attest to the quality of the internships we offer. Interns will have a one of a kind experience and learn a lot of skills along the way. If you have any questions feel free to send me an email.

Happy Fall!

September 23, 2011
allysonkrull's picture

It’s officially the first day of Fall! There are so many things I love about the fall – jeans, boots, sweaters, the beautiful colors, ISU football games, the countdown to Christmas…the list goes on and on! At work, it’s a time to catch our breath from the Fair and get geared up for the year ahead. First up on the calendar, the Fairgrounds 5K!

I have never been a runner, but I am so excited for the 5K this year! My husband and I started running this fall and I’m finally starting to complain less and embrace the feeling of confidence when I complete our runs, especially when we move up the miles each week. Though I won’t be running in it because of my obvious event coordination obligations, I am still thrilled to be offering this opportunity to others!

Since we are entering our fifth year, we decided it would be fun to add a couple of  new events to our 5K. In addition to our 5K fun run, we have added a one mile walk and a kids’ run! We will also have the newest timing system that’s available, RFID timing. Basically it is like chip timing, but instead of a chip you turn in a the end of the race, it is a small device located on the back of your race number that can be kept or thrown away. We’re also working on beefing up our prizes and giveaways, so be sure to sign up!

Registration includes a race t-shirt and goodie bag. Plus, you get to experience the Fairgrounds in the off-season and help raise money for the renovation and preservation of the Fairgrounds! Visit the Fairgrounds 5K website for sign up information as well as details for all of the events.

Check out a couple of pictures from last year’s race as well as our newest mascot for the 5K!

Runners approach the one mile mark.

Fairfield and Rosetta pose with some participants.

Walkers enjoying the scenery.

Now, introducing the newest addition to the Fairgrounds 5k, our cow mascot (yet to be named)! This year we will debut our “Chase the Cow Kids’ Run” where children 1-11 will chase the cow to the finish line!

The cow mascot for the "Chase the Cow Kids' Run"

Send us your suggestions and help us name the cow!
Have a great weekend and enjoy the beautiful fall weather!


2011 Iowa State Fair: Nothing Compares!

September 14, 2011
emilysaveraid's picture

We hope you all enjoyed the 2011 Iowa State Fair! Here are a few of our highlights!

Babies in the Animal Learning Center


Fox's Sean Hannity broadcast his show live at the Fair and drew quite a crowd!

On a rainy day we sell more ponchos than water!


Older Iowan Idol contest on Older Iowan's Day


I got to participate in Llama Limbo!

Draft horse show in the Jacobson Center


The Budweiser Clydes were on display the first weekend of the Fair.


On the last night of the Fair, Foundation staff all went down the Giant Slide together!


Blue Ribbon Foundation Fair Staff

What was the best thing that you saw at the Fair this year? 
Thank you for your continued support of the Foundation. Thank you too, to all of our volunteers who help make everything we do at the Fair possible. We’ll see you next year August 9-19!

2011 Iowans of the Day Selected

August 1, 2011
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The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation and Cookies Food Products are pleased to announce the recipients of the Iowan of the Day award for the 2011 Iowa State Fair.

 Each Iowan of the Day receives VIP treatment on their respective day! Starting with recognition on the Anne & Bill Riley Stage at 2:30; use of the Iowan of the Day golf cart; gate admission and grandstand tickets; VIP parking; $200 cash; and accommodations at the Downtown Des Moines Marriott.

 The Blue Ribbon Foundation began the Iowan of the Day award in 1997 to honor those Iowans who have truly made a difference in their communities. This year, the judges reviewed hundreds of nominations selecting those that show examples of integrity, Iowa pride, hard work and dedication.

“We are pleased to recognize these outstanding individuals as Iowans of the Day,” said John Putney, Executive Director of the Blue Ribbon Foundation. “Their volunteerism, dedication and service to their community and the state of Iowa makes each one deserving of this honor.”

 The 2011 Iowan of the Day recipients are:

Louise Unkrich of Swedesburg

Robert Smith of Sidney

Pauline Flamme of Gladbrook

Julie Beitelspacher of LeMars

John Rains of Urbandale

Ruby Bentley of Macedonia

Milton Menefee of Denver

Mickey Thomas of Osceola

Bill Forbes of Correctionville

Leo Chisholm of Osage

It's beginning to look a lot like...the Iowa State Fair!

August 1, 2011
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With only 9 days, 15 hours and 48 minutes left until the opening of the 2011 Iowa State Fair, the grounds are starting to look a little different this Monday morning. Normally when I come into the office each day, I may see a car or two pass by, someone walking their dog or the maintenance people driving by in a truck. This morning it was a little different…

Right when I turned off of University Avenue through Gate 2, I noticed the newly paved ground and beautiful landscaping surrounding the street. As I drove in past Little Hands, there is the Butter Cow image in the flowerbed right out front. As I made my way to Grand Avenue, that’s when things really started looking different.

Applicious, cheese curds, corndogs, cotton candy…the food vendors are all moving in! The Triangle is almost full  – even though it was before 8 a.m. when I passed by, I started getting hungry for cheese curds! They have always been my favorite, so of course when I saw them I was instantly excited.

I then turned left on Grand after I let all the traffic pass by me. On my way up the hill to our office, I drove by the Agriculture Building. I noticed last week that there was a strange vehicle parked there…Sarah Pratt, maybe? Well of course! With the Fair being less than 10 days away, I’m sure she is hard at work sculpting the Butter Cow.

Since her sculptures this year are a secret, it’s very tempting to go down to the Ag. Building to measure the spot I am placing a banner (no one needs to know that I already have the measurements).

All of us are getting really excited. I have a feeling this year is going to be a really great year for the Iowa State Fair. Please make sure you get your tickets and make a trip to the Fair! Our ticket office is open at the Administration Building every day, and if you get your tickets now they are only $7!


9 days, 15 hours and 31 minutes now!


Friends. Family. Food. Fun

July 18, 2011
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Although I have been a resident of Ames for the past three years, I was born and raised in southeast Iowa.  This is the beginning of a special week back home. An event that I plan on attending this coming weekend and haven’t missed since I was a little girl. The Davis County Fair.

County fairs across the state are a time to celebrate! It’s a time when friends and families can get together again in the summer. It’s a time when 4-H’ers can show off what they have created and learned all year.  It’s a time when food and entertainment can appeal to all ages.

When I was younger, my fun came from the Midway and riding the tilt-a-whirl as many times as I could. As I got involved with 4-H, it was much more exciting to see if my projects made it to the State Fair. I used to attend the concert, races and demolition derby each year. Now after a few games of bingo and the famous Cattlemen’s taco salad, I just enjoy the atmosphere.

I would encourage everyone to attend their county fairs this year and get ready for the 2011 Iowa State Fair.  To me, the Iowa State Fair is a combination of every county fair in Iowa. It is a time when everything about our great state is brought together.

This year’s theme of the Davis County Fair is: Friends. Family. Food. Fun.  It’s a pretty simple theme but I think is captures exactly what any county fair is all about. I plan on enjoying my family and my favorite fair foods this weekend before I get busy in August. I can’t wait to be part of the Iowa State Fair.  23 days!


The Davis County Fair