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.

If you haven't heard already...

June 22, 2011
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Ten outstanding volunteers are needed at the 2011 Iowa State Fair to be honored as the Iowans of the Day!

Please check your local post offices, libraries, newspapers, radio stations, television stations, county fairgrounds, volunteer organizations, main street offices, chamber of commerce, extension offices, or even ask your local Legislator for information about the 2011 Iowan of the Day program.

Since 1997, the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation and Cookies Food Products have come together in search of Iowans to recognize at each year’s Iowa State Fair. We look for shining stars across the state who personify the greatness of Iowa with a strong work ethic, loyalty to helping others, and an exceptional sense of Iowa pride.

Every year, ten nominees are named Iowan of the Day, receiving a special day of VIP treatment at the Fair. As Iowan of the Day, winners receive an introduction on the Anne & Bill Riley Stage, four Grandstand show tickets for their day, privilege to use the Iowan of the Day golf cart, VIP parking, accommodations at the Downtown Des Moines Marriott hotel, $200 cash and one-year subscriptions to The Iowan & Iowa Gardening magazines.

Download a nomination form here. Forms can also be found at your local post office or can be requested by calling 515-262-3111 ext. 678 or 1-800-450-3732. Nominate your shining star by July 1, 2011.

TEN days left to turn in your nominations to honor TEN deserving Iowans at the 2011 Iowa State Fair. (Only 50 days until the Fair!)

Always remember, Iowa is an amazing place to live and it’s the people who make it one of a kind!


Week 2 of Butter Cow Facts

June 21, 2011
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What kind of butter is used to make the Butter Cow?

Is it cultured?



Turns out, the Butter Cow uses low moisture, pure cream butter from our very own home state, Iowa. In order for it to be the best quality for sculpting, the butter is kept in a cooler at 40 degrees.

The buttery figurine requires a little more than just butter. A metal wire and mesh steel frame is used as the foundation for the sculpture. Occasionally, food coloring is used to color the butter and specific parts of the secondary sculpture. Red and blue food coloring were used for the American flag in the 2008 Shawn Johnson sculpture.  


Butter, Butter, and More Butter

June 17, 2011
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So what does happen with all that butter after the Fair? It may come as a pleasant surprise to you that much of the butter is recycled and reused for up to…are you ready for this?…7 years!

That’s enough butter left over to butter 19,200 slices of toast. That would take an average of two lifetimes to consume.

Find out next week what kind of butter is used to make the Butter Cow!



Take Note!

June 16, 2011
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Tomorrow is a big day…the day that all of the BRF Fair volunteer forms are DUE! So if you were thinking about volunteering, make sure you get your forms sent in! We are still in need of quite a few people. Remember, each shift is four hours long, and you must take on one shift if you are doing water or Fair Squares and two shifts if you prefer merchandise.

In return for your time that you are giving you will receive a free t-shirt, ticket(s) and parking pass(es) each day you volunteer, an invitation to our Volunteer Reception, the opportunity to make new friends and tell people about your love for the Fair and last but not least…help out a great cause!

The schedule will be posted sometime during the last week in June. There will be spaces that need filled as you will see, so please if you are interested in taking on more shifts don’t hesitate to email or call Kristen at 515.262.3111 ext. 679.

We want to thank each and every person that has signed up to volunteer thus far and hope that you will enjoy this experience!


Bring on the Butter

June 15, 2011
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To start off our array of Butter Cow facts, first let’s find out just how much butter we’re talking about. The Butter Cow alone weights approximately 600 pounds in butter. That is 2,400 sticks of butter!

As you might know, the Butter Cow is usually accompanied by a secondary display, which adds even more butter to the equation. In 1994, 250 pounds of butter were used to sculpt the country star Garth Brooks. Perhaps the largest amount of butter used was for the 1999 rendition of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” which called for about 2,000 pounds of butter.

That’s a lot of butter! Have you ever wondered what happens with all that butter after the Fair? Stay tuned to find out!


Fast Approaching Deadline!

June 14, 2011
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The Iowan of the Day program is sponsored by the Blue Ribbon Foundation and Cookies Food Products. Last week I had the opportunity to meet Speed Herrig, the owner of the famous Cookies BBQ Sauce. Speed is just as excited as I am for theIowan of the Day winners to be selected.

There have been a total of 140 remarkable volunteers recognized since the program began in 1997. There are still plenty of hardworking Iowans that deserve to be honored for making Iowa a better place to live.

We need your help in finding those people!

Click here for a nomination form. When sending in the nomination, include more information about your candidate. Show the selection committee how great your candidate is and why they should be an Iowan of the Day at the 2011 Iowa State Fair.

Nominations are due July 1, 2011. If you have any questions, please call me at the Blue Ribbon Foundation at 515-262-3111 ext. 678. You can also email me with questions at

I look forward to meeting some outstanding Iowans in August. This year’s Fair theme is “Nothing Compares”.  I would like to think that “Nothing Compares” to honoring some well deserving Iowans!


2010 Winner Karen Weld, middle, displays her Iowan of the Day award with the Blue Ribbon Foundation's Executive Director John Putney, right, and Speed Herrig of Cookies Food Products, left.


Have a Seat

June 13, 2011
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My family and I just returned home this weekend from a vacation in Key West. Although I loved every minute of it, I am happy to be back home and back at the Fairgrounds. Ironically it sounded like the weather was warmer here in Iowa than it was there! We had a fun time site seeing and hitting all the tourist attractions. The Island is small enough that you can skip the rental car and walk practically anywhere. Needless to say, we did a lot of walking. One thing I missed the most about the Fair during this time was all the relaxing benches. I desperately looked for a place to sit while my family shopped around, but had little luck. On the Fairgrounds alone there are over 600 benches! Not only do these benches provide comfort for Fair-goers, but the proceeds also go to helping the renovations of the Fairgrounds. To learn more about the bench program and other related giving programs visit our website.


Countdown to Kickoff

June 13, 2011
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“There’s Nothing Butter” than the Iowa State Fair! Join us at the annual Corndog Kickoff on July 9th as we celebrate 100 years of the Iowa State Fair’s treasured Butter Cow.  In honor of this, over the next few weeks, we will be posting blogs about the history of the Butter Cow as well as some fun facts. We hope you learn a bit more about how this tradition started and why it’s so important to support the continuation of these Fair traditions.

Year-Round Fun!

June 8, 2011
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This morning I had to get going a little earlier to arrive at work on time. It wasn’t because of construction or my desire to finally stop at Palazzo’s to get one of their delicious coffees, though. The Fairgrounds are bustling today for the World Pork Expo that is in town today through Friday, so I had to make sure I had time to weave my way through the grounds.

The Pork Expo isn’t the only event that goes on at the Fairgrounds from September-July, though. Weddings, auto races, flea markets, art shows and Gathering on the Grounds are just a few of the many events that take place. You can even camp at the Fairgrounds during off season! 

Of course the event that we at the Blue Ribbon Foundation are most looking forward to is our annual Corndog Kickoff that will be taking place on July 9th! Tickets are $75 in advance or $100 after June 30, and you can go to our website to learn more and order tickets! Also, the Fairgrounds 5K will be taking place in November. It is perfect for enjoying all the sights of the Fairgrounds, but without the crowd. We hope to see you soon!


All Across the State

June 7, 2011
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The deadline is fast approaching for the 2011 Iowan of the Day program. All nominations must be received by July 1, 2011!

The Blue Ribbon Foundation has been honoring outstanding Iowans across the state for the past 14 years. Below is a list of the cities where they were from. Check out if anyone has been honored from your community.

Albia, Alden, Ames, Anita, Ankeny, Armstrong, Bedford, Bettendorf, Bloomfield, Buckeye, Carlisle, Carroll, Cedar Rapids, Clarion, Clarksville, Clinton, Colo, Coon Rapids, Coralville, Corydon, Creston, Dallas Center, Danville, Decorah, Denison, Des Moines, Diagonal, Dubuque, Earlham, Eldora, Ellston, Ellsworth, Estherville, Fairbank, Fairfield, Floyd, Fonda, George, Gladbrook, Glenwood, Grandview, Greenfield, Grimes, Grinnell, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Johnston, Lamoni, Leon, Letts, Lewis, Manning, Marshalltown, Mason City, Mechanicsville, Minden, Monticello, Murray, Neola, Nevada, New Hampton, North English, Odebolt, Onawa, Osceola, Pella, Plainfield, Red Oak, Runnells, Sac City, Schaller, Sheldon, Sibley, Sidney, Storm Lake, Sumner, Terril, Treynor, Urbandale, Van Meter, Wall Lake, Wapello, Waterloo, Waukee, Waukon, Waverly, Wellman, West Des Moines, Winterset

Click here for a complete list of Iowan of the Day Winners.

More information about the Iowan of the Day program can be found on the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s website.

Can’t wait to receive your nomination!