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.

Kickin' into Summer Gear

June 2, 2011
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Yesterday, I was able to enjoy the beautiful outdoors for a while as my boss and Director of the Blue Ribbon Foundation drove me around on the 1854 Society golf cart. I was able to see some parts of the Fairgrounds that I have never seen before. I’m sure as the summer continues and as the Fair gets closer and closer I will have more opportunities to explore the Fairgrounds. Even though I have come to the Fair every year since I can remember, it’s crazy just how big it is and how many things there are to see and experience.

Even closer than the Fair is our annual Corndog Kickoff. I knew little about this big event until I became one of the interns this summer for the Blue Ribbon Foundation. Therefore, I am very excited  to see everything come together, put some names with faces and be a small part in helping raise money to keep our treasured Fairgrounds looking the way they do! If you haven’t already, make sure to get your ticket requests in by July 1st.


Iowan of the Day Testimonials

May 31, 2011
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The Blue Ribbon Foundation wants to honor the shining stars across Iowa. Make sure you nominate the outstanding volunteers in your community for Iowan of the Dayat the 2011 Iowa State Fair.  Previous winners are talking about their experiences.

“My family and I had a wonderful time at the fair. I am humbled by this honor and those who supported my nomination, but it was the Blue Ribbon Foundation who made it all possible.” Larry Petersen, 2007

“It was such a great day and I’m so honored by all the VIP treatment. We had such an enjoyable time with fond memories of the Iowan of the Day that will last for years to come.” Lorna Baldner Grow, 2006

“Celebrate is what I was able to do as the Iowan of the Day. Everything was so well done and so much fun! Thanks for all the gifts and treasures.” Karen Weld, 2010

 “From the scheduling to the accommodations, the whole day was fantastic! Being acknowledged for volunteerism is not something that volunteers expect.” Charlie and Jennifer Graf, 2006

“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!”  Gerald Inman, 2010

“Everyone involved was very nice and made me feel special. The hotel, tickets to the fair, parking, golf cart, grandstand tickets, magazine subscription and cash were all very nice but the best thing was the way everyone treated me. Thank you to everyone, I had a great time.” Rick Trotter, 2007

 Help us say thank you to those who give so much to our state! To obtain a nomination form, stop by your local post office or call the Blue Ribbon Foundation at 1-800-450-3732. You may also download the form here. Note that nominees must currently reside in Iowa. All nominations must also be received by July 1, 2011.



May 27, 2011
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I’m not liking how low the temperature has been the past few days.  It’s supposed to be summer, but here I am wearing long-sleeves. 

I wasn’t really sure what I was going to write about today, so I decided to just post some awesome pictures of the Fair to get your mind off the cold!




75 more days!


Start breaking in your running shoes

May 23, 2011
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On your marks…Get set…Go!

If you have not participated in the Iowa State Fair Fairgrounds 5K, now is the year to sign up! This year marks the 5th anniversary of the 5K run that happens every November at the Fairgrounds. It’s a great opportunity to get back on the Fairgrounds and enjoy the beautiful scenery, food, and people. The 5K includes a 3.1 miles competitve run as well as a 1 mile fun run/walk. We are currently in the process of adding additional events and opportunities to make this a fun day for all!

The Fairgrounds 5K this year is currently planned for November 6th. Look for more information and last year’s results on our website: We are also on the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation Facebook page. And don’t forget to start breaking in your running shoes!

Wanted: Volunteers!

May 20, 2011
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This year’s Iowa State Fair theme is “Nothing Compares.”  So, as I am sitting at my desk thinking about how I want to tie that in with the BRF volunteers, I have come up with this…

This year nothing will compare to the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation volunteers that will be helping out at the Fair!  After being here for only two weeks, I have had the pleasure of meeting a handful of the BRF volunteers that have been with the Foundation, some for many many years.  Everyone has been so nice and very enthusiastic about volunteering.  I think that is great.  The giving of time and talents just because you want to takes special people.  Without our volunteers, we would not be able to give nearly as much back to the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds as we do now.

Hopefully now you want to learn more about becoming a BRF volunteer.  As of today, our online registration form is officially up and running, so you can go to and click on the Volunteers tab that runs down the left-hand side of the page to sign up!  John Deere Financial volunteers, your registration form is also available online.  If you don’t know for sure if you want to volunteer yet, but want some information, feel free to email me at or call me at 515.262.3111 ext. 679.  I will be happy to answer anyone’s questions!

Have a great weekend!


The Auction Committee

May 17, 2011
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Since starting in March, I have had the opportunity to be on the Auction Committee for the Corndog Kickoff. Before starting my internship with the Foundation, I had never even heard of the event.  I quickly learned that the night was filled with auction packages, entertainment and lots of Fair food! An event with Fair food before August was definitely a night I wanted to be a part of. This year’s theme of the Corndog Kickoff is “There’s Nothing Butter” in honor of the 100th year of the butter cow.

My part of the committee includes helping keep Robin and the other committee members organized. They are all working very hard to have excellent auction prizes for the event.  It is wonderful to see how people and businesses around the state of Iowa are willing to make contributions to the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation.

We are continuing to receive donations and the office will soon be full. I will help Robin compile the 2011 Auction Book and put together one of a kind prize packages.  I’m looking forward to the event on July 9th and seeing the Varied industries Building full of excitement! For more information about the Corndog Kickoff or to see pictures from last year, check out the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s website.

Drew Norton

Check out some of the great Auction items from the 2010 Corndog Kickoff.


Summer is heating up

May 16, 2011
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It’s another beautiful day in Iowa! In case you didn’t already know, the Iowa State Fairgrounds are open year round and are a great place to come for a jog, enjoy a meal over your lunch break, or find a bench under a shady tree to read a book. Take advantage of this weather before it gets too hot!

I am continuing to work on my tasks as one of the three interns for the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation this summer. This week I will be preparing and mailing out “Save the Date” postcards for just some of the numerous events that happen during the Fair.

We are lucky to work with such a great staff and get to meet many others who play a part in making the Iowa State Fair as wonderful as it is!


The Fair is Coming!

May 13, 2011
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Only 89 days left until the Iowa State Fair! Yikes! The weather has been so funny lately, cold day and hot the next that it’s hard to decide what season it is.

On this cold, rainy afternoon, all I can think about is this:

Can’t you almost feel the heat and smell the Fair food? I can’t wait. Have a great weekend!

One week down!

May 13, 2011
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Hi everyone!  With my first week winding down, I thought I would introduce myself and tell you a little bit about what I will be doing this summer here at the Blue Ribbon Foundation.  First of all, my name is Kristen O’Connor, and I am from Prairie City, Iowa.  I will be a senior at UNI in the fall, majoring in Marketing.  I am the new Special Projects Intern, and after only a week, I can already tell you that this is going to be a busy summer!

As the Special Projects Intern, my main responsibility is coordinating anything and everything when it comes to the volunteers that help us out during Fair time.  How many people is that, you ask?  Well I am finishing up my mailing list, and there are over 500 names.  Pretty crazy, right?  A lot of people don’t realize just how much work goes into planning the Iowa State Fair, and I am just tiny part of it.

Even though this summer is going to be busy, I already have a feeling that this is going to be one of the best.  Not many people get to say that they have worked behind the scenes at the Iowa State Fair.  I feel very lucky to be able to be a part of this, and I already can’t wait until the first day of the Fair, August 11th!

I’ll be posting next week about volunteering at the Fair, so make sure you check back soon if you are interested in learning more!


Looking for the Stars of the Show

May 11, 2011
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Lights… Camera…Action…the Iowa State Fair is ready to roll but is in need of the stars of the show. The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation and Cookies Food Products are searching for ten outstanding volunteers to be the next Iowan of the Dayat the Iowa State Fair. These star community members will be honored at the 2011 Fair August 11 – 21.

I have been contacting volunteer organizations since March to collect nomination applications for Iowan of the Day candidates. I am currently working on Media Kits for television stations, newspapers and radio stations from around the state.

Iowa is a great place to live and there are plenty of hard-working people across the state that deserve to be honored. If you know someone in your community that would be a deserving Iowan of the Day, please nominate them.

There are nomination forms, a complete list of winners and sample nomination applications available on the Blue Ribbon Foundation website. You can also contact me at 515-262-3111 Ext. 678 with any questions.  Nominations are due July 1, 2011.

I look forward to receiving some outstanding Iowan of the Day nominations!

Drew Norton, Public Relations Intern