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.

Meet Carly

March 26, 2013
Intern's picture


Robin posted awhile ago about the new interns joining the Blue Ribbon Foundation this spring and summer. Well, I am one of them! My name is Carly Grenfell and I am a junior at Drake University. I'm studying Public Relations and Management in which I'm confident, after a couple major changes, that I have found my niche. I'm also a member of the Drake Women's Basketball team and have two years of eligibility left (redshirt sophomore). I've been playing basketball since as long as I can remember. It's been an exciting journey, but to add a job experience of this sort is an opportunity I'm going to run with. I have grown to love Iowa and Des Moines ever since I started going to college here. To be part of such a big tradition is something that caught my attention about this internship from the very beginning. To see, and be a part of, all the work that goes into the Iowa State Fair will be incredible in itself.

This is officially my second week as an intern here.  I will primarily be working with the Iowan of the Day program, but have been introduced to the Corndog Kickoff and other components of the foundation as well. Every day is different! That has definitely been one of my favorite parts so far- even if it is stuffing envelopes! The past few days, I have been getting ready to send out letters and nomination forms for the Iowan of the Day. That entails anything from updating addresses and contacts, to typing up the letters, to ultimately mailing it all off (hopefully soon!). For those that may not know, the Iowan of the Day was established to honor ten different people across Iowa for his or her commitment to going above and beyond in their community. The winners receive a plethora of benefits at 2013 Iowa State Fair. A couple of these things include VIP parking, grand stand tickets and $200 cash. If you know anyone that deserves recognition of this sort, nominations are accepted until July 1. How's that for a little bit of promotion? I am truly looking forward to the next few months with the Blue Ribbon Foundation, and I'm sure you'll hear from me in the near future. Until next time!


Fan Fair Update

March 21, 2013
allysonkrull's picture

This post is for all of the Fan Fair members out there waiting to hear from me about ticket purchasing information. Thanks again for another great year of raising funds for the Blue Ribbon Foundation through your renewals in the program! We have reached yet another record!

Here is a quick update about where we are in the process:

The thank you letter you received in the mail following your donation indicated that ticketing information (along with a Ticketmaster password) would be mailed in mid-March. As the full Grandstand lineup has not yet been announced, your letter with ticketing information will be mailed later than previously indicated. I will send you an email once the letters hit the mail so you can watch for them, most likely in early April.

So, once the last two concerts are confirmed and the public on sale date is set, we can set the Fan Fair date and get you the full list of acts as well as your Ticketmaster password and ticketing information. You will receive your letter appoximately 2 weeks before Fan Fair tickets go on sale so you will have plenty of time to look things over and ask any questions. I will be in touch via email, or you can find updates and information here. For updates on the two final acts, be sure to check it out on the Fair's website.

Thank you for your patience!


February 5, 2013
robintaylor's picture

January was a month of intern interviews as we searched for the three people who would help us get everything done for the 2013 Iowa State Fair.  Initially your heart has a nervous flutter to it as you look at a very small pile of resumes in the weeks leading up to the deadline.  But, not unexpectedly, the mailman delivers several large envelopes every day in the few days leading up to the December 31st application deadline.  This year we had quite a few to select from and called ten students in for interviews.

I enjoy talking with these students as they are all very motivated and involved in a wide range of actitivies. Across the board they use words like dedicated, drive, energy, passionate and goal-oriented. They have started new organizations at their respective colleges or served on leadership groups to bring about change. And, several of them spoke of their experiences of showing at the Iowa State Fair and how much that has meant to them. It makes you wish you had more than three internship positions to offer as each of the students has something that could help the Foundation.  One of our less serious, but very important questions to ask is: "What is your favorite Fair food?"  We have an ulterior motive as sometimes this question reveals a food we have not tried.  This year's responses included the beef sundae, caramel apple with nuts, turkey leg, hot dog, corn dog, deep fried ice cream, monkey tails, tenderloin, pork chop on a stick and honey lemonade.

We are pleased to welcome Carly Grenfell (Drake), Kaitlin Ricke (Central) and Kristine Milbrandt (Wartburg) to the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation.  Look for more information about all three of these ladies in our Spring newsletter and throughout the summer.

Show your love for the Iowa State Fair!

January 23, 2013
jennabeary's picture

It's that time of year again. Tax season. For some, this is good news. It means that at some point in the next few months, they will be receiving a tax refund and will be able to use that extra money to pay off bills, take a vacation, or boost their savings account. For others, it means that their savings account will get a little smaller and they will be the ones issuing a check. Whatever your situation may be this year, did you know that you can use your tax form as a means of donating to the Blue Ribbon Foundation? That's right - simply by checking line 58-B of Iowa Tax Form 10-40 or Line 14 of tax form 10-40-A, you are able to donate one dollar (or more!) to the Blue Ribbon Foundation to help preserve and improve the Iowa State Fairgrounds. These donations provide for new sidewalks, lighting, restrooms, air conditioning, and much more. The Corndog Checkoff is officially called the "State Fairgrounds Renovation Contribution" and all contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. For more information, click here or call us at 1-800-450-3732. 

Winter Contrast

January 4, 2013
robintaylor's picture

Today I took a moment to walk around the Fairgrounds, snapping pictures of buildings with a mantle of snow and a bright blue sky above. It's definitely a less colorful look than August with all of the bright lights, flags, stands and people but the stark contrast of our buildings and the white snow really seem to bring out the simple beauty of the grounds. So, keeping this blog short and sweet, I thought I'd share some of the photos with you as most of you don't have the opportunity to visit at this time of the year. Enjoy.

The gardens and Livestock PavilionLegacy Terrace and the GrandstandThe Riley StageA solar cooling bench on Expo Hill

Season Greetings from the Blue Ribbon Foundation!

December 27, 2012
jennabeary's picture

As we are wrapping up 2012 and getting ready to head into 2013, I find myself taking a step back and reflecting on the past year. I still vividly remember January 1, 2012 as I sat in my tiny one bedroom apartment anxious and excited for what the new year was going to bring. And now, as I sit here on December 27, 2012 in my office, I can say with a sigh of relief that I survived my first Fair as the Sponsorship Director, married my best friend, and moved into a slightly larger, although still stuffed to the gills apartment.

The Blue Ribbon Foundation also had a busy but successful 2012. We kicked off the new year with the annual Corndog Checkoff campaign, and to date have raised over $67,000. Next came Fan Fair and Grandstand ticket sales, and shortly after that we found ourselves opening the doors to our largest event (besides the Fair, of course) - the Corndog Kickoff.  It was a record breaking year for the Foundation, and we are already starting the planning process for 2013, crossing our fingers that we will be able to compete with our wildly successful 2012. 

As we reflect on our successes from 2012, we want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making this past year one for the books. We feel so blessed to have great donors, patrons, supporters and friends, and we could not do everything we do without each and every one of you. We hope you had a very Merry Christmas and are able to ring in the New Year in style. From all of us at the Blue Ribbon Foundation - Happy New Year!

It's a girl!

December 14, 2012
jennabeary's picture

There is a new addition to the Blue Ribbon Foundation family! Allyson & Chad Krull welcomed Kendall Elizabeth Krull on Tuesday, December 11th. Mom and baby are doing great and are looking forward to their first Christmas as a family of three. Congratulations Chad & Allyson!

Membership Programs

December 7, 2012
allysonkrull's picture

It's that time of year again when I send out all of the yearly renewals for our membership programs. While we have a variety of giving programs that can be one time gifts, we also offer three different membership programs that you may not be as familiar with. The deadlines for all three programs for 2013 is March 1, but often people like to contribute before the end of the year for tax purposes. Check them out below and see if you might be interested.

Fan Fair: For each $150 contribution made to the Fan Fair program, you become eligible to purchase 2 Grandstand show tickets during a special presale.

1854 Society: Funds raised by the 1854 Society helped renovate the Richard L. Easter Museum Complex and donations continue to provide archival quality storage needed for proper preservation of the museum’s historic pieces. The initial fee of $1,854 gives you a number of exclusive benefits during the Fair, and the renewal each subsequent year is just $395 for those same benefits. See how you can get involved with this special program.

Jake's Club: Experience the VIP lounge in the Jacobson Exhibition Center during the Iowa State Fair. Balcony box seating, comfortable couches, live video feeds from shows around the Fairgrounds and a full bar are a few of the perks. The initial enrollment fee is $500,  and the renewal fee is $100 each year.

If you're a renewing member for any of the programs, be sure to get your donations in by March 1, and if you're looking to join any of the programs above, feel free to contact us with any questions!

Concerts on the Fairgrounds

November 30, 2012
allysonkrull's picture

So this blog post I've decided to spare you a long recruitment plea about summer internships, but I can't go on without a reminder. Internship applications are due in a month (December 31), so make sure you get those turned into Jenna and don't miss out on the opportunity! Ok- with that out of the way, it's time to talk concerts! Mark your calendar for February 2 to see Fair favorite "Hairball" in the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center!

Tickets went on sale today for Hairball, the 80s rock impersonation act which will highlight the performance styles of Guns n’ Roses, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Ozzy, AC/DC, Journey, Poison and more. Crowds pour in to see this act during the Fair, and now you have a chance to see them in the off-season...for only $15! If you're interested in tickets, be sure to get them in advance to save yourself some cash. For more information or to purchase tickets, please click here.

Speaking of concerts, we're already planning for the 2013 Fair and don't want you to miss out on getting great seats to your favorite grandstand show(s)! Fan Fair is a yearly membership program that allows you to purchase tickets to the concert(s) of your choice before tickets are released to the general public. For each $150 donation you make toward the program, you are allowed to purchase two grandstand tickets early for the 2013 Fair's grandstand lineup. For more information about Fan Fair 2013 and how to join, check out the webpage. Donations must be made by March 1, 2013 to be used for the 2013 lineup; donations received after this date will apply to Fan Fair 2014.

Be sure to get your concert fill this year, whether it is by attending the Hairball concert in February or joining Fan Fair for the 2013 Fair concerts!

Sowing the Seeds

November 20, 2012
robintaylor's picture

Today I was out scouting the Fairgrounds for pinecones to use for a holiday event the Foundation is hosting. As I was searching out evergreens, I ran across Bob and Cindy who are the Fair's full-time groundskeepers. They were out in an area between Pioneer Hall and Grandfather's Barn clearing out a patch of dogwood brush, mullberries and other assorted volunteer plants. They each had a pickup loaded with branches and it wasn't the first load or two from the area. While the weather is nice, Bob and Cindy are working hard to get the grounds put to bed for the winter - trimming trees, planting bulbs, thinning out grasses and transplanting plants. There are over 400 acres of beds, bushes and trees to keep up with. During the summer months they do have several additional workers to help with planting, watering and weeding and an entirely different crew mows, but during the rest of the year it's just the two of them.

As the Fair's official gardener, Bob is the person we consult for our Trees for the Fair programs and the man responsible for figuring out how all the annual beds will be planted each year. If you look closely, you'll notice that he tries to coordinate many of the beds with the colors that are featured in the Fair's logo. In 2011 he had the butter cow done in marigolds and this year there was an ice cream cone of vinca featured in the bed at Little Hands on the Farm. Wonder what he might come up with for the 2013 "Happiness Is...." theme?  I know the challenges I face in keeping my gardens at home in shape and remembering what I planted where so I can't imagine keeping track of the entire Fairgrounds. And I don't have to contend with a million people coming in and walking all over it during the month of August. My hat goes off to them for keeping our big park in such great shape!