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.

Fair Preparations!

July 25, 2012
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Can you believe Fair is only two weeks away? This summer has been going by so fast. Everyone is in Fair mode here at the Blue Ribbon Foundation as well as everyone else on the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

In two weeks the Iowa State Fairgrounds will play host to almost a million visitors. Many changes and improvements have been made to the Fairgrounds themselves in preparation for the Fair. One big change to the grounds is the new theater on Expo Hill. Complete with solar panels in the covering, this theater will help create its own energy.

New foods and attractions will be at the Fair this year. Make sure to stop by the Elwell Family Food Center to check out the chocolate moose. Try new Fair foods like the blue sapphire funnel cake in honor of the Titanic, or the new crab fritters.

Hopefully the weather will cool down a little bit for the Fair, but if not, there will be plenty of cool drinks and treats to help with the heat!



Anxiously Waiting…

July 23, 2012
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We are now into those few weeks between the Corn Dog Kickoff and the Iowa State Fair. There is still a lot to be done, but each day gets us closer to the best eleven days of the summer! Last week we had the Volunteer Reception for our Blue Ribbon Foundation volunteers. The turnout was great, and of course the meal catered by Campbell’s was delicious as always. Volunteers got the chance to pick up their packets at the reception, and even add a few extra time shifts for the Fair. Are you still looking to add a couple more shifts or want to volunteer for the first time? Check out the most up to date volunteer schedule posted just today on the Blue Ribbon Foundation website, then email me or give me a call at 515-262-3111 ext. 679. We would love to have you as a volunteer at the Iowa State Fair!

I am currently in the process of mailing out volunteer packets for those who were unable to attend the Reception last week. The schedule is really starting to come together, and with Fair just around the corner I cannot wait to get the chance to work with all of our wonderful volunteers this summer. Have any questions about your volunteer schedule or the volunteer manual? Don’t hesitate to give me a call or shoot me an email! I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have about volunteering or even the Fair!


This year at the Fair, we will again be selling the Blue Ribbon Foundation pottery piece and our new Sticks plaques. This year’s piece is the Compost Pot and the two Sticks plaques are pictured above. Right now we are taking pre-orders! If you would like to be able to pick up your pottery piece at the State Fair, or have us ship it to you after the Fair, call us at 515-262-3111 and we can get your pottery and Sticks plaques ordered for you in advanced! Still need to order that famous Iowa State Fair Cookbook? We are also still taking orders for those here in the office, and we plan to ship those out this week!

Can you believe it’s almost here?? 16 days and counting!


2012 Corndog Kickoff Photos!

July 20, 2012
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Craving 2012 “It’s a Sweet Thing” Corndog Kickoff photos? Here are a few! 

More pictures will be up soon on the Blue Ribbon Foundation Facebook page!




On a side note, around the Blue Ribbon office, visitors, volunteers and fellow Fair staff members often ask “Are you ready for the Fair coming up?  Those eleven days are crazy!” Even though I haven’t witnessed the “craziness” of the Fair from a staff member's perspective yet, I can already begin to understand what everyone is talking about.  On Wednesday, the Blue Ribbon Staff attended the Superintendent’s meeting to learn about the Fair’s crisis management, marketing, concessions, special events and other departments.  It was definitely helpful to learn what’s going on across the Fairgrounds so we can do our best to assist with questions during the Fair.

Thank you for all the volunteers that came to the volunteer reception yesterday!  There was a great turnout.  The volunteers, along with the Blue Ribbon Staff enjoyed a “fiesta-chicken” meal catered by Campbell’s Catering followed by Molly's presentation of Fair facts and unveiling some new attractions you can expect to see on the Fairgrounds.  Following, the volunteers had an opportunity to get a tour of the Fairgrounds. Can't remember the day you volunteer for the Fair?  Check out the volunteer page to view the master schedule!

Stay tuned! The Iowan of the Day winners will be announced soon!  The panel of judges are very excited about recognizing this well-deserving group of Iowans who have made a great impact in their community.  Once again, thank you so much to all the Iowan of the Day nominators and Fair volunteers!

- Jenna


Kickoff Fair Time!

July 18, 2012
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It’s hard to believe that the Iowa State Fair is coming up so quickly! Everyone is in Fair mode here at the Blue Ribbon Foundation, making a quick turn around after a record breaking success at the 16th Annual Corndog Kickoff this year.

After attending at working my first Corndog Kickoff this past weekend, I am sure that I will be back to help and have fun in years to come. What an exciting event! From the Fair food smells in the air, to the excitement of the live auction, there was fun for everyone. As Blue Ribbon Foundation interns it was great for Molly, Jenna, and I to be able to help run such a fun and successful event.


Now that Fair is just around the corner, Iowan of the Day winners are being announced and volunteer packets are being put together. Blue Ribbon volunteers will gather tomorrow night at the Elwell Family Food Center for orientation and a tour of the Fairgrounds.

As you may have seen in the newsletter, 2012 pottery and Sticks plaques are available for purchase. To order, call us at 515-262-3111 ext. 671. Cookbooks are also still available to order and we are anticipating that they will be shipped out to all who have ordered by next week. If you would like to order a cookbook click here.

I know we are all looking forward to the Fair here at the Foundation, we hope you are too!


Put it in the Books!

July 16, 2012
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Well, we have successfully completed the 16th Corn Dog Kickoff! It took lots of hard work, many volunteers, careful planning of the Blue Ribbon Foundation staff, and a full week of preparing in the Varied Industries building, but we all made it happen and it came together very nicely. You could even say it was pretty “sweet”!Here is a look at the venue before the doors opened and after the Kickoff started.


It was the first Corn Dog Kickoff for the three of us interns and we had a blast! Even though we may have not been able to feel our feet by the end of the night, being a part of such a well-known event like the Kickoff was a real privilege and one we will not soon forget. Were you able to attend the Kickoff? What was your favorite part? I had been waiting and waiting for my first Hot Beef Sundae of the year, and boy was it worth it! Even without the infamous spork they serve at the Beef Quarters during the Fair, it was delicious and I cannot wait to have more once the Fair starts.

This week is also a busy week for me as the Special Projects intern. This Thursday, starting at 6:00pm in the Elwell Family Food Center, we will be having the Volunteer Reception for all of those who donate their time to the Blue Ribbon Foundation and the Iowa State Fair. We will be having a meal catered by Campbell’s, as well as a presentation and a motorized tour of the fairgrounds! I am really looking forward to meeting all of you volunteers and getting the chance to assist you at the State Fair that is only a few weeks away!



It's Kickoff Time!

July 13, 2012
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3…2…1…it’s Kickoff time! Anxious and excited for Corndog Kickoff TOMORROW? I know we are! With one day away, the Blue Ribbon Foundation staff has been spending the majority of the week at the Varied Industries Building preparing the silent and live auction, set up and decorations for tomorrow’s event. Last night, volunteers arrived to get a run-down on how everything will be operating and learn how their tasks are essential for the Kickoff’s success. The decorations look great so far, but there is a lot more to get ready…good thing the volunteers are here to save the day again today!

Ready to see the Kickoff’s final auction packages, decorations and set up? I don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone, so check back Monday to see pictures, or better yet...we will see you at the event tomorrow! There are a ton of new, creative auction items that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to purchase anywhere but at the Kickoff! Doors open at 6:30p.m. and the event will conclude with a fireworks display at 10:00p.m.  If you haven't ordered your tickets yet it is not too late! Order them over the phone (515-262-3111 ext. 671), online, or buy your tickets at the door when you arrive at the Kickoff tomorrow.


Only 3 Days Left to Wait!

July 11, 2012
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Only 3 days! That’s all the longer you have to wait for Corndog Kickoff! It’s hard to believe it’s finally here, but we couldn’t be more excited for such an exciting event. This week volunteers have been helping out getting auction packages ready and soon it will be time for decorations to go up in the Varied Industries Building. Things are starting to really take shape as the stage and tables go up for Saturday’s big night.

On other note, the 2012 Cookbooks are in! Cookbooks will be on sale at the Corndog Kickoff, and if you have sent in an order, keep an eye out for your cookbook that will be delivered to you soon! I know I can’t wait to get one for myself. As a college student I don’t have any cookbooks of my own, but this seems like a very promising one to start my collection. As a reminder, any Corndog Kickoff ticket orders placed this week will not be mailed, but will be available at the will call tables at the entrance on Saturday. You can still purchase tickets for $100, so if you haven’t ordered your tickets, don’t hesitate to let us know how many you would like. We don’t want anyone missing out on Fair food and great auction packages! If you would like to order a 2012 Iowa State Fair 16th Edition Cookbook or Corndog Kickoff tickets please give me a call at 515-262-3111 ext. 677. Cookbooks can also be ordered online.


If you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email or give me a call.


A mere month away…

July 9, 2012
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One month is all that stands between us and the ol’ Iowa State Fair. I am beyond excited and can now officially start my countdown! But before we get to those unforgettable 11 days, we have the 16th annual Corn Dog Kickoff. The fair food grazing party, as well as the silent and live benefit auctions, is this coming Saturday, July 14th starting at 6:30 in the Varied Industries Building here on the Fairgrounds. Still want to buy tickets? Order them online, stop in the BRF office, or give us a call at 515-262-3111 ext. 671.

The week leading up to the Kickoff is now underway and things are starting to come together. Here is a sneak peek of the silent auction packages that will be up for bidding this Saturday. Make sure to check out your auction booklets that you received with your tickets to look over what will be available and what you would like to bid on! There are a lot of really neat donations that have put into sweet packages that will be hard not to want for yourself!

Have you ever seen the VI Building this empty? It makes me take a step back and really see just how big it is and how much can fit in there for those 11 days of the Fair. Soon it will be filled with sweet treats and fair food galore to celebrate and raise money for the Blue Ribbon Foundation and the Iowa State Fair at the Corn Dog Kickoff! And only a few short weeks later it will be filled with your favorite vendors, local companies, and of course Barksdale’s cookies. What’s your favorite thing to check out in the Varied Industries Building? As a current Cyclone, I always head to the Iowa State area and get my Cy tattoo!

Two years ago, the Fair Squares booth was created at the Iowa State Fair. Fair Squares are rice crispy bars (on a stick orf course) that can be purchased at their stand northwest of the Administration Building. This year, we are coming out with a new flavor and we are asking fairgoers to name it! It's made with marshmallows, crisped rice cereal, pretzels, potato chips, Oreos, toffee and M&Ms®. The winner receives 11 free Fair Squares - one for each day of the Fair! Entries can be submitted by following this link. Have fun and get creative!


A Sweet Tooth and Sweet Treats

July 6, 2012
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Having a sweet tooth is tough to resist around the office lately.  With the Corndog Kickoff a week from tomorrow, it’s rare not to come across a type of candy or treat in a single day.  Whether it is actually an edible treat or simply a decoration for the event, the Kickoff on July 14 is sure to be sweet!  Here are some sneak peek pictures of some decorations currently being assembled:

I can’t wait to see everything come together next week and all the hard work from the staff and volunteers pay off.  Don’t forget your appetite because an assortment of Fair food will fill the Varied Industries Building.  I know I will have to try and get a taste of as much as my stomach can hold! 

I would also like to thank all the 2012 Iowan of the Day nominators.  There was a fantastic nomination turnout this year and I appreciate all the time and effort people put into explaining the greatness of their nominee.  Only a couple weeks until winners are announced. Remember, if your nominee is not chosen this year, they are considered for three years!

Hope to see you at the Corndog Kickoff next Saturday!

- Jenna


July 5, 2012
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Things at the Blue Ribbon Foundation are sure getting busier this week! With Corndog Kickoff only a little over a week away, everything is started to shape up.

Fun projects have sprung up in preparation for decorating for the Kickoff. Centerpieces are being made and decorations keep arriving in the mail. Molly and I got to spend a hot afternoon in the warehouse on Tuesday painting things for the photo sets where Kickoff guests can get their photo taken. Getting to paint and exercise my creative juices with decorating projects has been fun!

Remember, tickets are now $100 for Corndog Kickoff. Make sure to order yours if you haven’t done so yet! Any tickets ordered after July 10 will need to be picked up at will call at Kickoff. Any orders received before July 10 will have ticket packets sent in the mail complete with auction books and bid cards so you can be ready to bid on many fun, useful, and unique items up for auction this year.

If you would like to order Corndog Kickoff tickets click here. To view this year’s auction items click here to view the auction book. If you have any questions about ordering tickets for Corndog Kickoff please give us a call at 515-262-3111 ext. 671.