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.

Bring on the Butter

June 15, 2011
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To start off our array of Butter Cow facts, first let’s find out just how much butter we’re talking about. The Butter Cow alone weights approximately 600 pounds in butter. That is 2,400 sticks of butter!

As you might know, the Butter Cow is usually accompanied by a secondary display, which adds even more butter to the equation. In 1994, 250 pounds of butter were used to sculpt the country star Garth Brooks. Perhaps the largest amount of butter used was for the 1999 rendition of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” which called for about 2,000 pounds of butter.

That’s a lot of butter! Have you ever wondered what happens with all that butter after the Fair? Stay tuned to find out!


Fast Approaching Deadline!

June 14, 2011
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The Iowan of the Day program is sponsored by the Blue Ribbon Foundation and Cookies Food Products. Last week I had the opportunity to meet Speed Herrig, the owner of the famous Cookies BBQ Sauce. Speed is just as excited as I am for theIowan of the Day winners to be selected.

There have been a total of 140 remarkable volunteers recognized since the program began in 1997. There are still plenty of hardworking Iowans that deserve to be honored for making Iowa a better place to live.

We need your help in finding those people!

Click here for a nomination form. When sending in the nomination, include more information about your candidate. Show the selection committee how great your candidate is and why they should be an Iowan of the Day at the 2011 Iowa State Fair.

Nominations are due July 1, 2011. If you have any questions, please call me at the Blue Ribbon Foundation at 515-262-3111 ext. 678. You can also email me with questions at

I look forward to meeting some outstanding Iowans in August. This year’s Fair theme is “Nothing Compares”.  I would like to think that “Nothing Compares” to honoring some well deserving Iowans!


2010 Winner Karen Weld, middle, displays her Iowan of the Day award with the Blue Ribbon Foundation's Executive Director John Putney, right, and Speed Herrig of Cookies Food Products, left.


Have a Seat

June 13, 2011
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My family and I just returned home this weekend from a vacation in Key West. Although I loved every minute of it, I am happy to be back home and back at the Fairgrounds. Ironically it sounded like the weather was warmer here in Iowa than it was there! We had a fun time site seeing and hitting all the tourist attractions. The Island is small enough that you can skip the rental car and walk practically anywhere. Needless to say, we did a lot of walking. One thing I missed the most about the Fair during this time was all the relaxing benches. I desperately looked for a place to sit while my family shopped around, but had little luck. On the Fairgrounds alone there are over 600 benches! Not only do these benches provide comfort for Fair-goers, but the proceeds also go to helping the renovations of the Fairgrounds. To learn more about the bench program and other related giving programs visit our website.


Countdown to Kickoff

June 13, 2011
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“There’s Nothing Butter” than the Iowa State Fair! Join us at the annual Corndog Kickoff on July 9th as we celebrate 100 years of the Iowa State Fair’s treasured Butter Cow.  In honor of this, over the next few weeks, we will be posting blogs about the history of the Butter Cow as well as some fun facts. We hope you learn a bit more about how this tradition started and why it’s so important to support the continuation of these Fair traditions.

Year-Round Fun!

June 8, 2011
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This morning I had to get going a little earlier to arrive at work on time. It wasn’t because of construction or my desire to finally stop at Palazzo’s to get one of their delicious coffees, though. The Fairgrounds are bustling today for the World Pork Expo that is in town today through Friday, so I had to make sure I had time to weave my way through the grounds.

The Pork Expo isn’t the only event that goes on at the Fairgrounds from September-July, though. Weddings, auto races, flea markets, art shows and Gathering on the Grounds are just a few of the many events that take place. You can even camp at the Fairgrounds during off season! 

Of course the event that we at the Blue Ribbon Foundation are most looking forward to is our annual Corndog Kickoff that will be taking place on July 9th! Tickets are $75 in advance or $100 after June 30, and you can go to our website to learn more and order tickets! Also, the Fairgrounds 5K will be taking place in November. It is perfect for enjoying all the sights of the Fairgrounds, but without the crowd. We hope to see you soon!


All Across the State

June 7, 2011
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The deadline is fast approaching for the 2011 Iowan of the Day program. All nominations must be received by July 1, 2011!

The Blue Ribbon Foundation has been honoring outstanding Iowans across the state for the past 14 years. Below is a list of the cities where they were from. Check out if anyone has been honored from your community.

Albia, Alden, Ames, Anita, Ankeny, Armstrong, Bedford, Bettendorf, Bloomfield, Buckeye, Carlisle, Carroll, Cedar Rapids, Clarion, Clarksville, Clinton, Colo, Coon Rapids, Coralville, Corydon, Creston, Dallas Center, Danville, Decorah, Denison, Des Moines, Diagonal, Dubuque, Earlham, Eldora, Ellston, Ellsworth, Estherville, Fairbank, Fairfield, Floyd, Fonda, George, Gladbrook, Glenwood, Grandview, Greenfield, Grimes, Grinnell, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Johnston, Lamoni, Leon, Letts, Lewis, Manning, Marshalltown, Mason City, Mechanicsville, Minden, Monticello, Murray, Neola, Nevada, New Hampton, North English, Odebolt, Onawa, Osceola, Pella, Plainfield, Red Oak, Runnells, Sac City, Schaller, Sheldon, Sibley, Sidney, Storm Lake, Sumner, Terril, Treynor, Urbandale, Van Meter, Wall Lake, Wapello, Waterloo, Waukee, Waukon, Waverly, Wellman, West Des Moines, Winterset

Click here for a complete list of Iowan of the Day Winners.

More information about the Iowan of the Day program can be found on the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s website.

Can’t wait to receive your nomination!


Kickin' into Summer Gear

June 2, 2011
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Yesterday, I was able to enjoy the beautiful outdoors for a while as my boss and Director of the Blue Ribbon Foundation drove me around on the 1854 Society golf cart. I was able to see some parts of the Fairgrounds that I have never seen before. I’m sure as the summer continues and as the Fair gets closer and closer I will have more opportunities to explore the Fairgrounds. Even though I have come to the Fair every year since I can remember, it’s crazy just how big it is and how many things there are to see and experience.

Even closer than the Fair is our annual Corndog Kickoff. I knew little about this big event until I became one of the interns this summer for the Blue Ribbon Foundation. Therefore, I am very excited  to see everything come together, put some names with faces and be a small part in helping raise money to keep our treasured Fairgrounds looking the way they do! If you haven’t already, make sure to get your ticket requests in by July 1st.


Iowan of the Day Testimonials

May 31, 2011
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The Blue Ribbon Foundation wants to honor the shining stars across Iowa. Make sure you nominate the outstanding volunteers in your community for Iowan of the Dayat the 2011 Iowa State Fair.  Previous winners are talking about their experiences.

“My family and I had a wonderful time at the fair. I am humbled by this honor and those who supported my nomination, but it was the Blue Ribbon Foundation who made it all possible.” Larry Petersen, 2007

“It was such a great day and I’m so honored by all the VIP treatment. We had such an enjoyable time with fond memories of the Iowan of the Day that will last for years to come.” Lorna Baldner Grow, 2006

“Celebrate is what I was able to do as the Iowan of the Day. Everything was so well done and so much fun! Thanks for all the gifts and treasures.” Karen Weld, 2010

 “From the scheduling to the accommodations, the whole day was fantastic! Being acknowledged for volunteerism is not something that volunteers expect.” Charlie and Jennifer Graf, 2006

“It was a wonderful honor! Thanks for all the extras that came with the honor to make me feel really special. It was a great day that I will never forget!”  Gerald Inman, 2010

“Everyone involved was very nice and made me feel special. The hotel, tickets to the fair, parking, golf cart, grandstand tickets, magazine subscription and cash were all very nice but the best thing was the way everyone treated me. Thank you to everyone, I had a great time.” Rick Trotter, 2007

 Help us say thank you to those who give so much to our state! To obtain a nomination form, stop by your local post office or call the Blue Ribbon Foundation at 1-800-450-3732. You may also download the form here. Note that nominees must currently reside in Iowa. All nominations must also be received by July 1, 2011.



May 27, 2011
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I’m not liking how low the temperature has been the past few days.  It’s supposed to be summer, but here I am wearing long-sleeves. 

I wasn’t really sure what I was going to write about today, so I decided to just post some awesome pictures of the Fair to get your mind off the cold!




75 more days!


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!