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 $165 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.

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

Just the Beginning

May 9, 2011
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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!