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.

Blue Ribbon Opportunities

December 14, 2010
allysonkrull's picture

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
emilysaveraid's picture

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
allysonkrull's picture

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!

Piecing it Together

July 29, 2010
allysonkrull's picture


There are a lot of different pieces that make up the Fair. Departments, staff, volunteers, exhibitors and attendees are all people who help piece together the Fair each year. As Fair time approaches (only 14 days now!) there are thousands of pieces that need to be put in place to make sure we’re ready on opening day.

Without a doubt, each day gets busier as we get closer to the Fair. The Corndog Kickoff was held just two and a half weeks ago and after we wrap up a few days following the event, it’s high speed into Fair mode. Everyone in the office has a mile long to-do list, myself included. One of my current projects: getting all of the giving programs in place, including bricks, pavers, benches, trees, and lamp posts!

One of the new giving programs this year is the donor wall, or Block by Block, in the new Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center. All of the individual plaques are ordered and we are excited to see them installed in the form of barn quilts very soon!

I drove past the Jacobson Center today and took a couple of photos of the barn quilt designs being displayed on the exterior of the building. Crews are piecing it together block by block to make this amazing facility even more beautiful with the help of each of Iowa’s counties.  KCCI did a small story on the quilt block installation yesterday-click here to see the video footage.   


We are very excited to be debuting this exceptional new facility at this year’s Fair. We invite to you join us for opening ceremonies and the ribbon cutting on Thursday, August 12th at 9:30 a.m. at the Jacobson Center. While you’re there, be sure to check out your county’s quilt block on the outside of the building!

See you in two weeks for Non Stop Fun at the Iowa State Fair!

We're in Fair mode now

July 16, 2010
Intern's picture

First of all, thanks to more than 1,200 people for attending yet another successful Corndog Kickoff!  This year, we raised $227,000 to help renovate and restore the Fairgrounds. But now that the Kickoff is behind us, we’re in full swing getting ready for the Fair!

Last night, we hosted our annual Volunteer Reception in the newly-renovated Elwell Family Food Center.  It went as smoothly as we could have hoped for, thanks to some delicious catering by Campbell’s Concessions and a well-organized program by our volunteer coordinator, Stefany Foster. We’ve all been keeping busy, but probably none more so than Stefany, our Special Projects Intern. She’s been given the daunting task of organizing and assigning to duty all of the Foundation’s 450 volunteers. I’ve seen firsthand how stressful that job can be, but she’s done a great job so far!

At the end of the reception, I had the pleasure of being one of the tour guides for the four trams that took the volunteers on a quick jaunt around the Fairgrounds.  I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t know enough to talk about, but I surprised myself by only having to rely on my info cheat sheet a few times!  I also knew the answer to every reasonable question, and I think our tram had a good time in the ten minutes we had to do a quick lap around the Fairgrounds.

I’ve got plenty of work to do, entering stuff in the computer from the Kickoff and gearing up for the Fair. Speaking of which, we’re only 26 days away now! Thanks to everyone who helped make the Kickoff possible and to all that support what we do!

Billy Boyle, Special Events Intern

Corndog Kickoff Tomorrow!

July 9, 2010
emilysaveraid's picture

The Corndog Kickoff is tomorrow! Everything is coming together really well and we’re getting excited! Thought you’d like a sneak peak of the happenings:






Hope to see you tomorrow night at 6:30! You can still buy your tickets at the door.

Thanks for your part in “Building a Blue Ribbon Tradition!”

Brick Give-a-way Week 5: Livestock Pavillion

July 2, 2010
Intern's picture

Congratulations to Ashley Burns for winning a brick at the Cattle Barn!

An $800,000 renovation funded by the Prairie Meadow Racetrack and Casino provided a new roof for the aging building. Without the renovation, the Livestock Pavilion would not be able to be used year-round as it is today.  During the Fair it is also used for livestock competitions and judging or the Governor’s annual Charity Steer Show.

What is your favorite thing about the Livestock Pavillion?
Leave a comment on here or Facebook by Thursday, July 8 for a chance to win a brick at the Livestock Pavillion.

Brick Give-a-way Week 4: Cattle Barn

June 23, 2010
Intern's picture

Congratulations to Michele Deiber Kumm for winning the brick at Pioneer Hall.

Built in 1920, the Cattle Barn serves the Fairgrounds year round.  First construction created 1,520 stalls, an office, a dining room and sleeping quarters for the Cattle Barn.  The structure was created very open from one side of the barn to the other, allowing the public to easily access each year’s exhibitors.  The initial structure even had city water distributed to all parts of the building through an elaborate drainage system. 

The Cattle Barn now has an additional 480 stalls totaling to 2,000.  Today, the barn witnesses livestock shows, auctions, trade shows and meeting.  The Fair brings in up to 4,000 head with even some exotic and European breeds.

Tell us about the last time you visited the Cattle Barn.
Add a comment here or on Facebook by 10:00 a.m. June 30 to enter to win a brick at the Cattle Barn.

Brick Give-a-Way Week 3: Pioneer Hall

June 17, 2010
Intern's picture

Congratulations to Lindsey Wanderscheid, winner of the Anne & Bill Riley Stage brick!

As an exhibition hall, Pioneer Hall has served a number of purposes in its lifetime.  From a poultry building to a storage facility, the building has even operated as an employee dormitory at one point. Today, within the wooden structure, is the Museum of Iowa Agriculture.  However, as the Fair approaches, the museum is joined by antiques for display and judged competitions during the Fair. 

However, without the help of the Farm Bureau, the Pioneer Hall would have never been reopened in 1996.  The Bureau funded extensive renovations to the aging hall.  The renovation stabilized this building for the future working on the hall’s foundation and footing.

Throughout the Fair, music fills the air from the fiddlers, potters work with their clay, while blacksmiths and furniture makers diligently create.  People visit with friends over lemonade, watch women throw sand-filled rubber chickens and admire the antiques. 

What brings you to Pioneer Hall during the Fair?
Add a comment here or on Facebook by 10:00 a.m. June 23 to enter to win a brick at Pioneer Hall.