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.

Just the Beginning

May 9, 2011
Intern's picture

Day 1 of my summer internship with the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation is almost to a finish. Although I have a lot of work ahead of me, my first day on the job could not have been more pleasant! It was wonderful to be introduced to the other interns as well as the staff members again as they showed us the ropes around the office. I had a more personal greeting from the Executive Director, John Putney, as I will be assissting him this summer as the special events intern. I am looking forward espeically to helping plan some of the special events such as the the Legislative Day as well as coordinating tickets for the Corn Dog Kickoff and the Grandstand.

Today presented a lot of time to become acquanited with my upcoming tasks and I am eager to start preparing for the 2011 Fair!


Foundation Interns

May 5, 2011
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We are so excited to have all of our interns starting next week! Three amazing college students have been selected to assist us with planning the Fair this summer. Things are really starting to pick up around here and we love having the extra help (and love giving them a great internship experience)! Drew started part-time in March and now the two other ladies, Kristen and Trista, will join her full-time on Monday! Find out a little more about each of them below.

Drew Norton

Drew Norton is currently a junior at Iowa State University. She is majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a designated area of concentration in American Popular Culture. Drew is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and also serves as the Programming Manager on the Executive Board of ISUtv.

Originally from Bloomfield, Iowa, Drew has spent several summers attending the Iowa State Fair. She remembers her first Fair when she was ten years old and attended the LeAnn Rimes concert. Drew enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She is an Oakland Raiders football fan and rarely misses a game on Sundays.


Kristen O’Connor

Kristen O’Connor is a senior at the University of Northern Iowa, majoring in Marketing with a Certificate in Tourism. She is the President of UNI’s Panther Leadership Service Club that works to raise money for three different organizations in the Cedar Valley, and is also a new member of Mu Kappa Tau, a National Marketing Honor Society. She works on campus as an ICN technician, as well as with UNI Catering.

Originally from Prairie City, Iowa, she is always close by when Fair time rolls around and has attended almost every Fair for the past 21 years. Her favorite part of the Fair is the food, but she also enjoys the free concerts. In Kristen’s spare time she likes to travel, cook, exercise and spend time with family.


Trista Woody

Trista Woody, a junior at the University of Northern Iowa, is majoring in General Communications with a minor in Political Science. She enjoys working for the Department of Residence as a Resident Assistant fostering diverse, inclusive communities and helping incoming students acclimate to the college campus. While at college she has also served as president of UNI student organizations as well as volunteered for a local political campaign. In addition, Trista enjoys serving on the student leadership team for the Navigators.

Growing up in Johnston, Iowa, Trista has looked forward to attending the Iowa State Fair every summer. As a tradition, she always visits her Grandpa’s BueLingo cow in the Cattle Barn and has a list of her favorite foods, activities, and events that she can’t miss every year. In her spare time Trista enjoys running, reading and planning her upcoming fall wedding.

These ladies will be kept busy assisting the Foundation by organizing events and programs such as Iowan of the Day, the 2011 Iowa State Fair volunteers, official merchandise sales and the Corndog Kickoff Benefit Auction. They will also be posting on the blog to keep you informed with what’s going on this summer!


March 29, 2011
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I couldn’t resist posting this photo I took when I got to work this morning. I have some serious spring fever and couldn’t believe that we got snow again! Though I’m ready for this to be the last snow until next winter, I couldn’t help but notice how pretty it looked this morning. I think I managed a smile since the radio said it should be melted by the end of the day :)

Taken right outside our office this morning!

Not only am I ready for the warmer temperatures, but I can not wait until the Corndog Kickoff and the Fair to get here! Bring on the heat, Fair food, crowds and long hours…I’m ready!

Mark your calendar for the Corndog Kickoff!

March 25, 2011
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As you may or may not know, in 2011, we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Butter Cow! To help celebrate, the Corndog Kickoff will show everyone that“There’s Nothing Butter!” than the Iowa State Fair! July 9, 2011 will celebrate all things butter cow and will take a look back at the history of the butter cow, all while raising funds for the Foundation!

We are looking forward to another great night. Our advisory committee has been meeting and we think we’ve got some great ideas for the event! If you have any interest in participating on the Auction Committee or the Set-up committee, please let us know.

Look for more information coming soon!

Spring = New Beginnings!

March 23, 2011
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Ah, spring! Nothing feels as good as the opportunity to open doors and windows and get a wiff of the fresh air outside! Although some days it seems the temperature can’t decide if it’s ready to let winter go yet, the birds are singing and our grass is starting to green up!

We’ve decided to re-dedicate ourselves to this blog, clearly we’ve slipped a bit! Blame it on dreary winter days or the months of cold. But, we’re back!

Would you like some updates?

  • How about that Grandstand Lineup? From Sugarland and Reba to Train to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Def Leppard, this year’s line up is sure to have something for everyone! Thanks to all of our Fan Fair donors, who have made this a great year. Besides getting great seats at the concerts, you’re helping a great cause! If you didn’t get involved this year, stay tuned for Fan Fair 2012!
  • Did you make it to the Hairball concert a couple of weeks ago? For all of you eighties music fans out there that just couldn’t wait for the Fair, we hosted another concert at the Jacobson Center. A great crowd turned out and had a great time!

  • If you haven’t turned you taxes in yet, don’t forget to participate in the Corndog Tax Checkoff! Look for the State Fairgrounds Renovation Checkoff on line 58b on Iowa Tax form 1040 or line 14 on Iowa Tax form 1040A.
  • Only 140 days to go until the Iowa State Fair! While it dreary outside today, I’ll leave you with an image of great things yet to come this summer!

Have a great rest of the week!

A New Year

January 19, 2011
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Wow! Time flies! In the craziness of the holiday season, we have managed to completely neglect the blog, so it looks like we have some catching up to do….starting in November.

Well, November started out with a bang, hosting our fourth annual Fairgrounds 5K on the first Sunday of the month. We had unbelievable weather (70s if I recall correctly), record attendance, and most importantly, an exceptional amount of money raised for the renovations of the Fairgrounds. In addition to the 375 people who crossed the finish line, others in attendance included  numerous volunteers, Team ISF kids, and Fairfield and Rosetta, the Fair’s mascots! It was a great day and a successful event. Thanks to the sponsors and to all who made it possible!

Fairfield and Rosetta pose with 5K participants.

Some participants came dressed for the occasion!

Runners take off from the starting line

The rest of the month was spent posting items on eBay, designing holiday cards, sending out membership renewals for Fan Fair and 1854 Society and recruiting interns.

December brought with it all of the joys of the holidays: cards, parties, and of course, food! We spent much of the beginning of December decorating Jake’s Club for upcoming holiday events. We are excited to use the space in Jake’s Club to offer a new membership program which includes access to members during Fair-time activities! For an affordable fee you can enjoy watching Jacobson Center activities from the comfort of couches or balcony seating. Plus, you have food and drink available for purchase without even leaving the room! Check out our website for more details on how to join!

Also, you have to see how great Jake’s Club looked for the holidays!


Happy New Year! Right now at the Foundation we’re getting ready to send out our quarterly newsletter which features our annual roll of donors. We are also working diligently reviewing resumes and conducting interviews to find three new interns for this summer. We have some excellent candidates so it will be very difficult to choose! Finally we are gearing up for the Fair and the annual Corndog Kickoff which will be here before you know it!

Well, hope that brings you up to speed! I was looking at the very first post from our blog and that was a year ago already! Wishing you all the best in 2011! Stay tuned in and we’ll keep you updated throughout the year.

Blue Ribbon Opportunities

December 14, 2010
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I can’t believe the weather we’ve been having lately! I love fall! I just hope we can hold onto this until the first week in November for our 5K. In addition to the great weather, another reason I love the fall is because it tends to slow down a little at work after those crazy summer months. But, even in the off-season we keep busy preparing for upcoming events, and we could use your help. The Blue Ribbon Foundation offers opportunities for you to get involved and give back.

We encourage you to sign up for our fourth annual Fairgrounds 5K, a great way to get some exercise and support the Fair with friends and family! If you’re interested, be sure to register before next Friday, October 22nd, to receive the discounted entry fee. If you’re not in the mood to walk or run and still want to take part, we are still looking for volunteers to help out on race day. Please send me an email if you’re interested in volunteering.

Here are a couple of photos from last year’s event:

It was so nice out last year, people were in shorts!

Participants walking the route.

Volunteers helping at the finish line.

Another opportunity we have available is for college students. We are currently seeking interns for 2011! If you know a motivated college student in his or her sophomore or junior year, encourage him or her to apply. We offer one spring/summer internship and two summer internships. The application process and more information can be found on our website.

Enjoy the beautiful fall weather and help us spread the word about the opportunities the Blue Ribbon Foundation has to offer. Tell your friends about the Fairgrounds 5K and our available internships!

Fall on the Fairgrounds

October 29, 2010
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Even though the Fair ended a couple of months ago, the Fairgrounds are still bustling with activity! Fall is a busy time around here as there are lots of interim events and we gear up for the Fairgrounds 5K!

We still have some time for fun though! Last week, Fair staff got together to make the Fairgrounds a little more festive . . . with hay bales! Staff was divided into teams with a different theme for each team. If you’re on the Fairgrounds, come check out our efforts!

Decorated hay bales done by Fair staff are displayed on the Triangle on Grand Avenue.

Also taking place on the Fairgrounds this week is the World Percheron Horse Congress. This event is only in the United States every four years. We are honored to host this event in 2010. Exhibitors from all over the world come to show off the world’s best percheron horses. If you like watching the hitches during the Fair, you would love this event! Last night, 16 six-horse hitches were on display in the Jacobson Exhibition Center.

Six-horse hitches exhibit in the Jacobson Center.

There is still plenty of time to catch more of the show. The schedule of events is available here. Come out this weekend and see some great horses on display in a great facility!

Next weekend is the Fairgrounds 5K! We’re crossing our fingers for some more of the great weather we’ve had! If you haven’t registered yet there is still time. More information here.

Are you a fan of The Charlie Daniels Band? He’s coming to the Jacobson Center along with 38 Special on November 12. This is a great opportunity to check out a great concert on the Fairgrounds in the off-season. There are no bad seats here! Tickets are on sale now! Go here.

There’s a lot going on! Get out to the Fairgrounds for a fall full of festivities!

Fair and 5K

September 30, 2010
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Wow. What a busy summer and a great Iowa State Fair!  As Emily promised in the last post, I’ll share a few of my favorite photo highlights with you as well.    

First day of the Fair: I helped plan the ribbon cutting for the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center during opening ceremonies. It is an amazing facility I hope you were all able to see it during the Fair.


Middle of the Fair: I run myself on a pretty strict schedule during the Fair, walking the same route countless times a day. This year I made it a goal to see the Natural Resources building, one of the many things I have never seen at the Fair. Granted I was only there long enough to take a photo before my phone started ringing, I’m glad I went. If you’ve never been, you should go and see all that it has to offer.    


The entire Fair: Given I spent nearly all of my time managing Fair Squares at the Fair, it warrants a photo on my highlight list. We were so busy! We sold over 21,000 treats!    

Last day of the Fair: For the three of us, last year was the first Fair in our current positions. This is the second year in a row this exact photo was taken on the last night of the Fair. Let’s just say we look a lot better this year.    

Survivors: Allyson, H, and Emily

Now that we’ve got another Fair all squared away, it’s time to start planning for next year…314 days and counting! But before next August, we have a number of other events to plan, one of those being the upcoming Fairgrounds 5K!    

Sunday November 7, 2010 will mark our fourth annual Fairgrounds 5K Fun Run & Walk. I’m definitely not a runner, but I do love to walk. That’s what so great about this event- it’s for everyone! Not only do you get to see the beautiful Fairgrounds in the Fall, but you are helping raise money for renovations as well! Registration is only $20 until October 22nd and that includes a goodie bag and a long sleeve t-shirt. For more information about the race, be sure to visit the Fairgrounds 5K website.    

Thanks for attending the 2010 Non Stop Fun Iowa State Fair. We hope you had a great time. Also, please plan to join us at the Fairgrounds 5K this Fall and show your support for the Foundation.

The Fair Draws to a Close

September 9, 2010
emilysaveraid's picture

It’s hard to believe that the Fair ended a couple weeks ago!  The month of August was a whirlwind getting ready for the Fair in addition to the Fair itself! The month of September is spent cleaning up and winding down, reflecting on the Fair and what we can do to improve.

It was a great Fair! Even though it was hotter than hot some days and rainy others, Fair-lovers from across the country still came out to enjoy their favorite things about the Iowa State Fair. A few of my favorite things:

The Draft Horse Show

The 4-H Building

The Animal Learning Center

I was honored to meet several of our Iowans of the Day, all very deserving recipients, all dedicated to improving their communities. I was inspired. 

Speed Herrig of Cookies Food Products along with winners Helen & Floyd Deets.

We also had a great crew working for us this year! To our staff and our volunteers, we couldn’t do it without you!

Blue Ribbon Staff

Stay tuned as we show you more glimpses of the 2010 Iowa State Fair as well as what we have planned this fall! We hope you had a great Fair, we look forward to hearing all of your favorite memories from the Fair!