November 4, 2019
The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation created the Iowan of the Day program in 1997. The Foundation wanted to honor individuals that showed true Iowa spirit through continued volunteer work and community activities. We were looking for people who made exceptional contributions in their communities and across the state.
The program was introduced in the 1997 summer newsletter. “We are excited about this new program because it honors Iowans for many of the same virtues that the State Fair is recognized for,” said John Putney, former Blue Ribbon Foundation Executive Director.
The first Iowan recognized on the first Thursday of the 1997 Iowa State Fair was Charlie Becker from Monticello. Charlie’s family enjoyed using the official Iowan of the Day golf cart throughout his special day.
Since that very first presentation on the Anne and Bill Riley stage, 230 Iowans have been given the honor of Iowan of the Day at the State Fair. These outstanding volunteers have represented 139 different towns from across the state. Do you see your hometown listed?
Ackworth, Albia, Alden, Algona, Allison, Ames, Anita, Ankeny, Armstrong, Arnolds Park, Bedford, Bettendorf, Bloomfield, Boone, Breda, Buckeye, Camanche, Carlisle, Carroll, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Centerville, Chariton, Clarence, Clarion, Clarksville, Clinton, Colo, Coon Rapids, Coralville, Correctionville, Corydon, Council Bluffs, Creston, Dakota City, Dallas Center, Danville, Decorah, Delhi, Denison, Denver, Des Moines, DeWitt, Diagonal, Dubuque, Earlham, Eldora, Ellston, Ellsworth, Estherville, Exline, Fairbank, Fairfield, Floyd, Fonda, George, Gladbrook, Glenwood, Grand Junction, Grand Mound, Grandview, Greene, Greenfield, Grimes, Grinnell, Grundy Center, Guthrie Center, Hampton, Hartley, Indianola, Iowa City, Iowa Falls, Jefferson, Johnston, Knoxville, Lakota, Lamoni, LeMars, Leon, Letts, Lewis, Lincoln, Low Moor, Macedonia, Manning, Marshalltown, Mason City Mechanicsville, Mindon, Mitchellville, Mondamin, Monticello, Murray, Neola, Nevada, New Hampton, New London, North English, Odebolt, Oelwein, Onawa, Osage, Osceola, Panama, Pella, Perry, Plainfield, Red Oak, Runnells, Sac City, Schaller, Schleswig, Sheldon, Shenandoah, Sibley, Sidney, Sioux Center, Sioux City, Slater, Solon, State Center, Storm Lake, Stratford, Sumner, Swedesburg, Terril, Treynor, Urbandale, Van Meter, Wall Lake, Wapello, Waterloo, Waukee, Waukon, Waverly, Wellman, West Des Moines, Westside and Winterset
These men and women of all ages personify the qualities and characteristic associated with Iowa – integrity, dependability, sense of community and a strong worth ethic. From the very beginning Cookies Food Products and Des Moines Marriott, have supported the Iowan of the Day program as sponsors. Thank you.
The Iowan of the Day nomination applications aren’t due until July 1 of each year. This fall and winter, the Blue Ribbon Foundation encourages you to think about the members of your community that go above and beyond to make your hometown a better place to live. Consider nominating them for the award.
A few previous winners:
October 28, 2019
I recently updated the picture frames in my office. I change these photos of my family and friends out once a year. I usually have one photo from the most recent Christmas and one photo from some adventure I took within the year. I also keep a few photos on the front of my filing cabinet. These photos are Iowa State Fair related and make me smile throughout the workday.
From left to right:
2011 Corndog Kickoff: This photo was from the very first Corndog Kickoff I ever attended as a summer intern. The theme was “There’s Nothing Butter” and celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Butter Cow. That night I was in charge of helping with the live and silent auction. It was the first time I was part of such a large fundraising event. (Here is the plug to apply to be a 2020 summer intern with the Blue Ribbon Foundation and put your skills to the test planning the Corndog Kickoff.)
2016 Corndog Kickoff: This picture was taken as the 2016 Corndog Kickoff wrapped up. As the current Communications Manager, I sat with three women that had previous held the same position at the Foundation. Each had planned the Corndog Kickoff themselves and came back to volunteer at the event. I think this speaks very highly of our organization. Just like the Iowa State Fair has a special connection for so many people – so does the Blue Ribbon Foundation.
Steer-N-Stein’s Beer Sign: Who doesn’t want to pose by the 27-degree beer sign when it’s your 27th birthday?
2017 Iowa State Fair: The ladies of the Blue Ribbon Foundation office paused for a quick photo during the 2017 Iowa State Fair. This was Meg Courter’s (Sponsorship Director) first Fair. It takes all staff and volunteers working together to pull off the annual 11-day event.
2018 Iowa State Fair: I was able to take a photo with the 2018 Iowa State Fair Queen, Hailey Swan. Hailey is from my hometown of Bloomfield in Davis County. That same year, the winner of the Giant Pumpkin contest was also from Davis County. Nothing brings out your “Hometown Pride” than seeing your county represented at the State Fair level.
2019 Iowa State Fair: One of the highlights of my State Fair career is taking a selfie with Noah Cappe while he was filming an episode of Carnival Eats during the Fair. Can’t wait to watch the Iowa State Fair featured in this show. (He was just as friendly in person as he seems on television!)
Also hanging out on the cabinet are magnets I have collected from each Fair as a full time staff member. Some days it seems like I just started with the Foundaiton but a number of things have changed in 6 years. Major renovations have been made to the Cultural Center, Youth Inn, and now the 4-H Building. The creation of the MidAmerican Energy Stage, Ruan Plaza, two midway park areas, Jacobson Plaza, the Grandstand stage and seating expansion - plus two new Admission Gates.
Those are just the BIG projects – let’s not forget restroom updates, roof repairs, window replacements, electrical upgrades, road and sidewalk improvements. This doesn’t include the regular maintenance that happens every day to keep the buildings functioning properly.
I could fill every filing cabinet top to bottom with photos of the Fairgrounds improvements! If you enjoy any of these renovations or the countless others that have been completed since 1993 – join our fundraising efforts. Let’s make the Iowa State Fairgrounds picture perfect.
October 21, 2019
There is no doubt the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation has grown over the years. Just look at the different programs highlighted in previous fall newsletters:
Merchandise & Water Sales:
- 1999: $120,000
- 2009: $310,000
- 2019: $431,930
- 1999: $42,000
- 2009: $33,405
- 2019: $65,300
Number of Volunteers:
- 1999: 164 Volunteers
- 2009: 422 Volunteers
- 2019: 600 Volunteers
Corndog Kickoff Benefit Auction and Fair Food Grazing Party:
- 1999: $114,000 (Exciting package had backstage passes to meet Reba McEntire.)
- 2009: $230,000 (Auction included round-trip airline tickets and passes to Disney World.)
- 2019: $514,300 (Exciting item was a camping spot including the use of a Winnebago.)
Popular Merchandise Item:
- 1999: John Deere 4010 tractor and Bean Pot Pottery Piece
- 2009: Iowa State Fair watch and the 13th Edition of the Cookbook
- 2019: Butter Cow Socks and two-sided Iowa State Fair Puzzle
Fall 1999 Newsletter Highlights: The new Hy-Vee Fun Forest was completed in time for the 1999 Iowa State Fair. This park area with playground equipment is still utilized by children of all ages during the Iowa State Fair and throughout the year. The Cattle Barn renovation was near completion with new roof, cattle stalls, new offices and restrooms. The north and south annex were each expanded at this time.
During the 1999 Iowa State Fair, the Foundation participated in the Governor’s Charity Steer Show. The Donor Profile highlighted two special volunteers Betty Lou Smith and Jeanne Wheeler. Robin (Lage) Taylor joined the staff – we just celebrated her 20th anniversary!
Fall 2009 Newsletter Highlights: Staff were preparing for the Fairgrounds 5K and promoting new giving programs in the Jacobson Exhibition Center. The Elwell Family Food Center opened its doors for the first time. Joy Eden was highlighted in the Donor Profile section. Joy volunteered at the Corndog Kickoff, sold water/merchandise at the Fair, helped at the payout table at the Woodcarver’s Auction and as a camper; she was the top name of the “Volunteer Stand-By List”.
Fall 2019 Newsletter Highlights: The 2019 Iowa State Fair was a huge success with the canvas painting class, BINGO and Woodcarver’s Auction. Staff are planning the second annual Halfway to the Fair Happy Hour Fundraiser in February. Corteva Agriscience is highlighted in the Donor Profile. The company’s support of the 4-H Building renovation will help develop new classroom space in the building.
What traditions are still going strong? A few items are highlighted in each of the newsletters. From the very beginning, the Foundation has honored outstanding volunteers from across the state. Each newsletter highlights the Iowan of the Day winners.
The Foundation is also still hiring interns to join our staff in the summer. Over the years, the responsibilities have adjusted to fit the needed projects, but hardworking students can gain valuable experience to jump-start their careers after college.
Volunteers are essential for the Foundation operations. Even 20 years ago, these dedicated Fair-lovers gave their time and promoted our work to other Fairgoers.
Looking back at old newsletters, we are able to see how much our organization has grown since it started. I predict that the Blue Ribbon Foundation will only continue to grow in the next 10 and 20 years. I hope Fairgoers will support our mission and watch as we help make the Iowa State Fairgrounds even better.
October 14, 2019
It might seem early but the Blue Ribbon Foundation is already looking for college students to join our staff next summer as interns. The program has grown and adjusted to fit the needs of our organization over the years. I can’t help thinking back to the summer of 2011, the year I was the public relations intern.
The Foundation keeps documents, notes, ideas from the past – it was easy to find a blog post I wrote in June of 2011. It was titled “What I have learned so far”. The highlight of the blog - "People are truly passionate about the Iowa State Fair".
Whoa! Fast-forward 8 years and I have an even deeper appreciate for Iowans’ passion about THEIR State Fair. That summer was just the tip of the iceberg learning what it takes to run a successful nonprofit organization. I developed my communication, leadership and customer service skills. Things I continue to use daily in my job.
The Blue Ribbon Foundation internship program offers hands on experience. Each intern takes on projects that are essential for our organization to accomplish our goals. Our hope is that interns take the skills they already have and improve them while at the same time learning something new to help further their professional careers. Interns are able to interact with a variety of donors and volunteers. This networking is key. Not only does it establish giving relationships for the Blue Ribbon Foundation but allows the interns to meet professionals across the state.
Looking back, I remember being excited to be an intern with the Blue Ribbon Foundation but I had no idea it would open other opportunities and eventually lead to a full time job. As my role has reversed and I sit on the opposite side of the interview desk, I have a hard time containing my excitement as I meet new potential interns. I immediately want them to know what they are going to gain in a short period of time. The energy these students bring to our organization every year is contagious.
Please consider applying for an internship with the Blue Ribbon Foundation. I guarantee it will be a summer to remember. Applications are due November 30.
October 7, 2019
During the 2019 Iowa State Fair, professional artists created a huge sand sculpture at the entrance of the Sandra Freeman Dowie Midway Plaza. The duo would work each day carving out the design, little by little until the entire project was complete. Seeing photos of the progress reminded me of taking photos as projects take place on the Fairgrounds.
The Blue Ribbon Foundation started in 1993 with the goal of raising $6 million in two years and $30 million in ten years. The entire state of Iowa stepped up to support the preservation of the historic Fairgrounds. This first goal was reached and surpassed! In 20 years, over $100 million was raised. To date, that total is $160 million.
The first project the Blue Ribbon Foundation supported was the creation of the Service Center. This first project showed Fairgoers that the Foundation would always do more than what was expected.
Fast forward to present day. The 4-H Building renovation is underway. Six weeks into the project and changes are happening quickly. Some local Fair-lovers might drive around the Fairgrounds throughout the year to check on the development while others will see the finished product in August. We will keep you updated on the progress.
The Blue Ribbon Foundation will continue to make progress in our goal of preserving and improving the Iowa State Fairgrounds. We invite you to join us. Donate today and know that your dollars are enhancing the grounds and buildings that make up the 445 acres of beloved agricultural heritage put on full display every August.
September 30, 2019
Did you see that during the Iowa State Fair?
Did you see the new Gate 13? The Iowa State Fair created an admission gate on the northwest corner of the Fairgrounds. In addition to the gate, East 31st Street now has an improved roadway and landscaping that enhanced the flow of pedestrian traffic north of Grand Avenue. The Iowa State Fair had 1,170,375 visitors this year!
Did you see 4 awesome interns stomping grapes at Grandfather’s Barn? These ladies took a quick break from working to participate in the Grape Stomp. Let’s just say their communication, project management and event planning skills are much better than their wine making abilities. The Blue Ribbon Foundation’s internship program is definitely a balance of hard work and fun. Check out our upcoming internship opportunities.
Did you see the life size sheep and hog bronze statues? In honor of our beef, lamb and pork producers, a trio of cast bronze animals were displayed along Rock Island Avenue, in front of Pella Plaza. With Bret and Amy Doerring’s generous support and Nick Klepinger’s creativity – this artwork adds something unique to the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The final statue, a steer, will be added for the 2020 Iowa State Fair.
What can you see this fall on the Fairgrounds?
Right now you can see...construction is in full swing on the 4-H Building. The building already looks different. A portion of the south wall is gone and the interior floor has been removed. Crews are also doing routine maintenance on Pioneer Hall. As the oldest building on the Fairgrounds, it needs the most 'TLC' throughout the year.
Right now you can see...the Fairgrounds are busy with events. This past weekend - there was a craft show, horse show and quilt show. In the next few weeks the Fairgrounds will host a Flea Market, Consignment Sale and a Pet Expo. The Varied Industries Building, Animal Learning Center, Elwell Family Food Center, Walnut Center, Jacobson Exhibition Center, Youth Inn, Cattle Barn and Livestock Pavilion will all be used in the month of October. This just shows that the facilities are enjoyed year round.
Right now you can see...the Iowa State Fair released the 2020 Fair theme: “How Do You Fair?”. Check out the Fairgrounds website for information and follow the countdown to August – only 317 days. There is so much planning (and fundraising) to do between now and then. Join the Blue Ribbon Foundation in our mission to keep the Iowa State Fairgrounds in tip-top condition for the Iowans that are using it now and the future generations that will enjoy it. Donate Today.
September 23, 2019
When looking at photographs of the Iowa State Fairgrounds, it sometimes feels like looking at an “I SPY” book. Remember these? Growing up, I would stare at each colorful page for hours, trying to find the specific items.
Let’s play the game. How many ways can the Blue Ribbon Foundation be spotted in this photo?
I Spy…a Volunteer T-Shirt. This is an easy item to spot. More than 650 people volunteer roughly 5,628 hours during the Iowa State Fair. These special t-shirts make each volunteer stand out in the crowd.
I Spy…the classic Sky Glider. SkyFair, Inc not only operates the ride for us to use at the Corndog Kickoff but also gives the Foundation coupons to use in auction packages at the event. Maybe you won a free ride with the new Scratch Ticket Prize game.
I Spy…an Iowa State Fair hat. There are still hats (and other merchandise) available for sale in the online State Fair Store.
I Spy… 6 concession stands that support the Corndog Kickoff. Each year, vendors donate Fair food samples to serve to guests. It’s a great way for Fairgoers to warm up their appetites in July. Thank you, Brad and Harry’s Cheese Curds, Dawghouse Concessions, Iowa Pork Producers Association, The Best Around, McConnell Concessions, and Campbell’s Corndogs.
I Spy… the Iowa State Capitol. Each year, the Blue Ribbon Foundation hosts Legislative Day for the General Assembly to thank them for supporting the Foundation’s capital improvement projects.
I Spy…a Hardenbrook’s souvenir cup and an Event Toyz stand – both supporters of the Corndog Kickoff.
I Spy…the golden limo – A.K.A. -the 1854 Society Golf Cart Shuttle. This golf cart is special for members to use throughout the Fair. Consider joining this membership program and taking advantage of the perks.
I Spy…a Mountain Valley Green Water Bottle. The Foundation sells these distinctive bottles of water as a fundraiser.
I Spy…a lamp post. There are lamp post plaques available as one of the many Giving Programs. Do you want to honor a special person in your life or a special event? Has a loved one recently passed away? Tribute gifts can be made in honor of a friend, to commemorate an important event, or made in memory of loved ones.
I Spy…a beautiful and clean Fairgrounds, covered with people enjoying their day at the Iowa State Fair. Most likely some of these Fairgoers are also donors, supporting the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s mission to renovate and improve the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds. Join the crowd and donate now.
What do you Spy?
September 18, 2019
During the 2019 Iowa State Fair, did you find yourself exploring the Horse Barn? The Fairgrounds were flooded with Belgians, Clydesdales, Draft Ponies, Miniature Horses, Percherons, and Shires.
These beautiful animals traveled from across the country to participate at the Iowa State Fair. Yes, not just Iowans showcased their horses. Participants from North Carolina, Utah, Wisconsin, Michigan and even Canada traveled to our great state to compete.
Participants were judged on every aspect of showing the various breeds including: showmanship, horsemanship, timed events and games. Adults in addition to 4-H and FFA students showed in the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center. With so many classes, exhibitors also used the Livestock Pavilion and the Bob & Deb Pulver Outdoor Arena.
The Jacobson Exhibition Center hosted a packed crowd for the annual Cowgirl Queen Contest. That same crowd also lined the streets outside of the Horse Barn to watch teams prepare their Six Horse Hitches. These are two of the most popular shows to see.
Were you in the crowd this year? If you spend time in the Jacobson Exhibition Center, consider joining Jake’s Club and experiencing the horse shows from an exclusive vantage point!
Jake’s Club, located on the 2nd floor of the Exhibition Center, is a members-only VIP area hosted by the Blue Ribbon Foundation. The Club features a full bar as well as a variety of food options. Balcony box seating is available in addition to comfortable couches. It’s the perfect place to watch your favorite Jacobson Center activities or simply take a break from the hustle and bustle of the Fair. Read more on the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s website.
Whether you are an equestrian professional or just starting to learn about the animals – you can support the Blue Ribbon Foundation while watching the horse shows from the best seat in the house.
September 5, 2019
In no particular order, listed are 11 highlights from the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s 2019 Iowa State Fair.
1. Socks: The hottest merchandise item was the Butter Cow Socks. We sold out of the adorable socks during the Fair - that’s 1,200 pairs of socks! We can’t wait to see folks rocking these sock throughout the year. Don’t worry, we still have the fun Corndog socks available. Check out the online State Fair Store to pick up your Iowa State Fair souvenir.
2. Iowan of the Day: Honoring 10 Iowans across the state is always a highlight. Congratulations again to the 2019 Iowan of the Day winners. Thank you for helping make Iowa a better place to live. The Blue Ribbon Foundation was honored to celebrate each of you during the Fair.
Jody Reynolds, Des Moines
Carol Jebens, Delhi
Buffi Honeck, State Center
Aaron Van Beek, Sioux Center
Kelsey Bumsted, Solon
Warren Van Dyke, Greene
Richard McClure, Sidney
Pat and Nancy Corkrean, Winterset
Vicki Lage, Perry
Mary (Kimberly) Rueter, DeWitt
A special thank you to our sponsor, Cookies Food Products, and the Des Moines Marriott Downtown for making the program possible. Nominate an outstanding volunteer from your community as Iowan of the Day for the 2020 Iowa State Fair.
3. Water Sales: Volunteers sold $2 bottles water at 8 stands across the Fairgrounds. The first Saturday of the Fair must have been extra hot because water sales totaled $20,000!
4. Interns: During the Fair, our interns are in charge of their specific projects. They each have tasks that keep them busy from 7:30 am until 10 pm. In between the chaos, the interns are able to enjoy some special activities. This year, all four interns participated in the Outhouse Races. We’d never seen them move so fast to earn a 4th place finish!
5. BINGO: The second annual Blue Ribbon BINGO was a success! With $1 playing cards per game and the lucky winner receiving half the amount collected - it was a fun day for all ages. A total of 3,005 people played 73 games of BINGO. The Blue Ribbon Foundation raised $2,381. Thank you to the Better Business Bureau for sponsoring the day of BINGO.
6. 4-H Building Renovation: With the help of the Governor of Iowa and the Iowa State Fair Board, the Blue Ribbon Foundation announced the 4-H Building renovation plans. The Foundation received the single-largest individual gift in the organization’s history, a $10 million donation from the Richard O. Jacobson Foundation. Six million will be used to renovate the 4-H Building, while $4 million will support the Foundation’s endowment, Our Fair’s Future. With plans in motion, the building will be renovated from top to bottom with new lighting and floors, updated kitchen facilities, restrooms, and additional classroom space.
7. Painting Class: A total of 212 Fairgoers participated in the Blue Ribbon Foundation's Painting Class fundraiser. With $7,420 raised, all proceeds from the painting class are dedicated to Our Fair’s Future, the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s endowment fund. A special thank you to Messy Missy's Art Studio in Marshalltown for leading the classes.
8. Engraved Bricks: Staff help several donors find engraved bricks. Did you know there are 15 different brick pad locations? Engraved bricks are a wonderful way to celebrate a loved one or commemorate your time spent at the Iowa State Fair. Bricks are placed twice a year. The fall deadline is September 15. Donate for your engraved online.
9. Woodcarver’s Auction: The 2019 auction raised a record $65,300! A special thank you to Chainsaw Artists - Gary Keenan, T.J. Jenkins and Klint Kenik for producing outstanding pieces of art. The Foundation also auctioned off the Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Ham, Bacon and Dried Beef in addition to the 2019 concrete elephant statue - Baby Mine. Mark your calendar to join the Foundation for next year's Woodcarver's Auction on the last day of the 2020 Iowa State Fair, August 23, in the John and Emily Putney Family Cattle Barn’s Penningroth Media Center.
10. Volunteers: Thank you to the 654 people that filled 1,407 volunteer shifts during the 11-day Fair. We couldn't have a successful event without your support. Thank you for helping with merchandise, selling bottled water, assisting with the painting class, BINGO…and the list goes on and on. Blue Ribbon Foundation volunteers are truly some of the best Fairgoers. Thank you!
11. Staff: Cheers to our hard working staff! We were able to snap a quick photo of the full-time staff with the interns. It is rare that we are all at the same place at the same time. Divide and conquer is a motto we follow.
With gorgeous August weather, outstanding entertainment and exhibits – it’s no surprise the Iowa State Fair had record breaking attendance. Among that million visitors, there is a group of donors that support the Foundation’s mission and help keep the Iowa State Fairgrounds in top-notch condition for the next generation. Thank you - truly “Nothing Compares” to the great Iowa State Fair.
July 25, 2019
This summer my main task has been publicizing and organizing the Iowan of the Day program. The Blue Ribbon Foundation began the Iowan of the Day program in 1997 to honor Iowans who have truly made a difference in their communities. It has been so fun receiving many nominations of truly deserving Iowans. I have gotten to read through them and take notes, and I am blown away by the amount of time and effort nominated individuals put into their communities for other people. A passion for volunteerism is a remarkable quality to have and I aspire to be like these nominees. This year, the judges reviewed dozens of nominations and selected those who demonstrate integrity, Iowa pride, hard work and dedication to their area.
Each winner will have a day of recognition at the Iowa State Fair. He or she will be recognized on the Anne and Bill Riley Stage and presented as an Iowan of the Day. Along with accommodations at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown, each will receive a cash prize, Grandstand and Iowa State Fair admission tickets, use of the Iowan of the Day golf cart, VIP parking, and a goodie bag.
The 2019 Iowan of the Day recipients are:
Jody Reynolds of Des Moines – Thursday, August 8th
Carol Jebens of Delhi – Friday, August 9th
Buffi Honeck of State Center – Saturday, August 10th
Aaron Van Beek of Sioux Center – Sunday, August 11th
Kelsey Bumsted of Solon – Monday, August 12th
Warren Van Dyke of Greene – Tuesday, August 13th
Richard McClure of Sidney – Wednesday, August 14th
Pat and Nancy Corkrean of Winterset – Thursday, August 15th
Vicki Lage of Perry – Friday, August 16th
Mary (Kimberly) Rueter of DeWitt – Saturday, August 17th
Thank you to all the nominators who submitted worthy Iowans to be recognized. Please remember that all nominations will be considered for three years after your submission and you can always send in additional information!
Make the Iowan of the Day presentation a part of your #FairFavorites this year August 8-14 at 2:00 and the 15-17 at 1:00 at the Anne and Bill Riley Stage!
(Pictured is a 2018 Iowan of the Day, Brenda Lee Larkey.)
- Gabrielle Gerke, PR Intern