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 $195 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.


June 10, 2013
Intern's picture

I have decided to take a little different approach to this week’s blog. As I have been here for over two months now, I am getting a better feel for what the Iowa State Fair is all about. It is one, big, happy camaraderie that I feel extremely lucky to be a part of for just a short amount of time. And along with that, I have been exposed to so many different aspects of the state of Iowa that I honestly did not know much about before. I always say that people are the nicest in the Midwest (especially Iowa- and Nebraska since I’m from there!). Let’s just say that being able to run the Iowan of the Day program has locked in that philosophy completely. Although I am unable to meet the many nominees that I have been reviewing for the past week, it is evident how many people truly make an impact in their communities- and of all ages.

I think if you were to ask any of my Drake teammates, they’d tell you I’m a pretty energetic and passionate player. I will be just as excited to play the 100th game of my collegiate career as I was my first game as a fourth grader. I know this might sound crazy, but reading through the hundreds of nominations gives me this same type of excitement. I didn’t think it was possible to get an adrenaline rush working a full-time internship, ha! The bottom line is that I have seen first-hand how many people in Iowa go above and beyond for others, and thus make my job even more enjoyable. I owe it all to IOWA and the Blue Ribbon Foundation for giving me such a unique opportunity.

I have told myself from the get-go that I will choose a profession where going to "work" is one of the best parts of my day. While there are certain parts of a career we may not necessarily love, we simply cannot function without it. Thankfully, before I decided to play basketball at Drake, I knew that no college athlete can survive without loving what they do. It is such a demanding environment that without enjoyment, it is next to impossible to stick it out. I’m convinced that the same goes for the workplace. And let me be the first to tell you that I definitely love my job here. While Spalding was my first true love, the State Fair comes in a close second :)

PS- don’t forget to nominate a deserving friend or colleague for Iowan of the Day!!

Until next time


Nothing but Atypical

June 6, 2013
Intern's picture

Hi everyone!

You could say that this week hasn't been a "typical" work week. The tents are up, the crowd has gathered, and everyone is eating the same thing for lunch... pork! The World Pork Expo began on Wednesday and lasts through Friday. People from all over the world attend this event--I noticed one man traveled all the way from China!

Although the Fairgrounds are full of excitement right now, we are still hard at work at the Blue Ribbon Foundation. Volunteer forms for the Iowa State Fair are still flooding in, and I couldn't be more excited about it! Although scheduling volunteers has been and continues to be quite the challenge, I can't wait to finally meet all of the volunteers!

Don't forget that you can still sign up to volunteer at the Iowa State Fair online. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

I have a feeling we won't have a "typical" work week again with the Corndog Kickoff next month and the Iowa State Fair coming up after that. We have a lot to accomplish, but much more to look forward to!




A Little Taste of August

June 4, 2013
Intern's picture


What do you get when you cross the Blue Ribbon Foundation with June, July and August? A lot of fair preparation!! With the World Pork Expo going on right outside our windows, it's hard to not get a little bit antsy for the real deal. Grand ave is quickly filling up with booths, tents and stands giving us all a little taste of what is coming in August. On top of Iowan of the Day, the Corndog Kickoff and lining up our many gracious volunteers, I'm sure we will make a little time to walk the Fairgrounds in midst of the World Pork Expo! For people from all over the world to come not only to Des Moines, but better yet the Iowa State Fairgrounds, is something pretty special. If there is all sorts of buzz going on now, just imagine what it will be like in a couple months!

Remember there is still plenty of time to nominate someone for Iowan of the Day! There are some great examples of supplemental materials that our judge panel is looking for on our website. If you need some ideas, you can certainly look there. The time put into a nomination will be worth it in the end. Even if your nominee isn't chosen this year, they will still be considered for the next three years. Along with that, past nominators are more than welcome to re-nominate or send in more supporting materials. I have a giant box of worthy Iowan's of the Day under my desk- but don't worry, there is still plenty of room for more!!

Until next time!



Volunteers Galore!

May 30, 2013
Intern's picture

Hello again!

This is only my third day this week due to Memorial Day, but I have been so busy! Volunteer registration forms for the Iowa State Fair were mailed out last week and online volunteer registration opened as well. I returned on Tuesday to countless e-mails and letters filled with completed registration forms from potential volunteers. That's exciting stuff here at the Blue Ribbon Foundation! The phone also seems to be ringing off the hook, and I'm constantly trying to answer questions. Things have definitely picked up since last week, but I enjoy the fast pace of it all because that means the Iowa State Fair is inching closer and closer!

If you didn't receive a volunteer registration form in the mail and would like to volunteer at the Iowa State Fair, you can still sign up online. If you prefer to have a registration form mailed to you, please feel free to contact me

Today I was told my days at the Blue Ribbon Foundation will get even crazier when Fair time rolls around. Although I am a bit anxious about keeping up, I know working with the volunteers will not only be fun, but also rewarding. 


The Interns are All Here!

May 29, 2013
Intern's picture


I'm the third intern, Kristine Milbrandt, and I finally started here at the Blue Ribbon Foundation yesterday. I go to Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, and we have kind of a different school year than other colleges, so I didn't get done until last Thursday, May 24. But now that I'm here, I'm very much looking forward to all the fun projects in front of me and the upcoming Iowa State Fair!

I'll be a senior at Wartburg this fall and I'll be graduating in December. I'm double majoring in Writing and Communication Arts with emphases in Public Relations. Writing has been a huge passion of mine since I was a kid. I've actually written two novels that I've been editing and hope to have published one day. I'm originally from Buffalo Center, Iowa--a small town in north central Iowa just 15 miles south of Minnesota. Growing up on a farm, I spent a lot of time working with my family and was really active in 4-H and FFA. So being here at the Fair this summer has me pretty excited! Agriculture is a big passion of mine, and to be around a place that is so filled with that, I know this summer is going to be great.

As the Special Events intern, some of the projects that I'll be working on include the 1854 Society events, Legislative Day, the Corndog Kickoff, and other Blue Ribbon Foundation events. I can't wait to dive into the projects that are awaiting and to really experience this place that I've loved since I was a kid this summer!

Until next time,



Back At It

May 28, 2013
Intern's picture

Can you believe it's already almost June? I can't!! I hope you all enjoyed your three day weekend!

The fair is going to be here before we know it. I have been joined by our two other interns Kate and Kristine- I finally have some company! :) There is no doubt we are keeping busy. Robin and I have been making plenty of phone calls for the Corndog Kickoff so she can start typing up this years auction booklet. There have been so many gracious donations that we are extremely thankful for AND excited about. We hope to make 2013 another record breaking year! Don't forget, you can now order your Corndog Kickoff tickets and commemorative crocks (first come first serve).

As for the Iowan of the Day, we are down to just over a month left to nominate! It has been challenging yet exciting being able to run this program. With Jenna's help, we are looking for the best possible ways to get the word out. We are just finishing up the media kits and soon I will be reaching out to local newspapers as well. The theme of "star-struck" has been a fun one to work with! I look forward to reading more nominations and getting a taste of what Iowa is all about. There are so many worthy people of this award, but only the best of the best will be recognized. If you are unsure of what to include in your nomination, here is a collage including some of the items from last year's winners. It is one thing to write about your nominee, but these materials are what will truly set them apart!

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me by email or phone. I can be reached at or 515-262-3111 extension 678. Have a great week!

Until next time.


Volunteer Registration is Open!

May 23, 2013
Intern's picture


My name is Kaitlin (Kate) Ricke, and I am the new Special Projects Intern! My first day was last Monday, and I can't believe I've been here for almost two weeks now! I'd like to share a little bit about myself, as well as what I'm working on as an intern. I'm a junior at Central College in Pella, IA, but I will be graduating in December. I am majoring in Communication Studies, and I think my role as the Special Projects Intern fits quite well with my major! I grew up in the small town of Sac City, IA, but I ventured out of my comfort zone and studied in London, England last semester. I absolutely loved the energy of the city, but it was a relief to come back to the friendliest people on Earth--Iowans!

What better way to immerse myself in Iowa again than interning at the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation? I am very excited for the Corndog Kickoff, the Iowa State Fair, and so much more!

As the Special Projects Intern, my main duty is to work with the volunteers. I've been preparing mailings, drafting registration forms, and trying to answer questions. I can't wait to meet each volunteer and put a face to a name! Volunteer registration forms for the Fair were sent out in the mail on Tuesday, but you can also register to volunteer at the fair on the Blue Ribbon Foundation website.

Have a great weekend!



Corndog Kickoff Tickets On Sale

May 21, 2013
allysonkrull's picture

Corndog Kickoff tickets are now officially on sale!

We are counting down and the event is only 53 days away! Saturday, July 13 will mark our seventeenth annual Corndog Kickoff and we are excited to offer another great lineup of auction items as well as Fair food, SkyGlider rides, fireworks and more.  Be sure to get your all-inclusive kickoff tickets prior to June 30 to receive the discounted ticket price. If you've already donated as a Corndog Kickoff Patron, your tickets are included with that donation, but you are welcome to purchase additional tickets as well.

In addition to ordering tickets, this year we have a limited edition crock available for sale. Reserve your crock now, and pick up at the event! Be sure to get your order in soon if you're interested as there are only 150 for sale.

Crazy Is Good

May 10, 2013
Intern's picture

We meet again! Not much new going on here- the auction donations for the Corndog Kickoff are slowly but surely piling up! I hope to say the same for the Iowan of the Day nominations soon, too. It is definitely not too late to either nominate or donate! While this is my first year, I can tell that may through august are the crazy months. But crazy is good in my mind! Next week is my last week of school and then I will be working full time. The two other interns should also be here soon. Jenna told me from day one that when August hits, we are all "married to the fair." I thought that was a great way to put it. Right now we are on engagement level- but marriage is quickly approaching :)

Happy friday!    

Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

May 2, 2013
Intern's picture

May has officially arrived!! It is pretty crazy how fast my time here has gone so far. I have definitely been keeping busy between The Corndog Kickoff and Iowan of the Day program. I might add that it is not too late to donate! More and more donations are piling in each day. Being a part of the "behind-the-scenes" work of such a big event has been pretty amazing, not to mention the variety of items and unique ideas that come with it. I'm anxious to see it all fall together. The event will be held on Saturday, July 13- we hope to see you there!

In the meantime, I will be finishing up my junior year of college in a couple weeks. Two other interns will also be joining us soon! You will more than likely be hearing from them once they are here and settled in. It's been quite the ride so far. If I had to share with them some of the most valuable things I've learned, it would be right along these lines...

  • Organization is key- to do lists are life savers.
  • Think outside the box- there's generally a certain way to do things, but add your own personal touch
  • Utilize your resources- when in doubt, ask someone. Or google it.
  • Take initiative- don't wait for someone to tell you to do something, just do it!

I'm sure this list will be at least twice as big by the end of the fair! Until next time.