Word of Mouth Works

Crowds form around the live auction.

This week the publicity committee for the Corndog Kickoff met to talk strategy for promoting the Kickoff in 2010.  We’re always looking for new and creative ways to get the word out about what a fun event the Kickoff is and encourage people to attend.

This year’s theme, “Building a Blue Ribbon Tradition” will allow us to talk not only about the Kickoff, but also about the work the Blue Ribbon Foundation has done in raising money to not only preserve the historic buildings on the Iowa State Fairgrounds but to build new ones as well. While the Kickoff is a fun event, with lots of food and entertainment, the ultimate goal is to raise money for the Foundation. This is the core of what we’re about and we don’t want to lose sight of that goal.

That being said, though, the Kickoff is FUN and we want to share the fun with Fair lovers everywhere! We’re coming up with some new ideas including more video clips and more opportunities to get out into the community, so look out for us!

Do you love the Kickoff? Tell your friends! While all of our promotional activities are important, I think that the best way for us to get the word out is to have you tell your friends, who tell their friends, who tell their friends! It’s all about word of mouth! You are an important part of our publicity efforts. We like to think that we put on an event that gets people excited about not only the Fair but about supporting the Foundation and our increasing attendance proves this!

So this year, when you bring your friends to the Kickoff, enjoy a corndog, ride the skyglider and watch the fireworks. Don’t forget, though, to bid on the packages or spin the spinwheel or buy a centerpiece! All of the money raised goes to improve the Fairgrounds, a cause that I think we all can agree on!

Ringmen call out bids during the live auction.

Fair is in the air!

Though the Fair is still six months away, the smell of livestock is in the air! That’s right, the grounds are booming with activity from the Iowa Winter Beef Expo. Each year we have a small corner booth in the annex of the cattle barn to display our merchandise and giving programs and to get people thinking about the upcoming Fair. We are lucky to have great volunteers that staff the booth during business hours so we can continue our work up in the office. It gives our volunteers a chance to get a taste of what it’s like during the off-season and give back to the Iowa State Fair. And for me personally, it gives me an excuse to go down to the cattle barn as I check on the booth three times a day.  

Volunteers Gene and Krista Bear work at the Foundation's merchandise booth at the Beef Expo.

 

The Beef Expo holds a special place in my heart and it’s fun to stay connected and reminisce with people I’ve met in the cattle industry. I started showing cattle when I was five, but didn’t attend my first Beef Expo until I was eight. As a third grader, I exhibited my former bottle calf and walked away with a trophy and the title of Grand Champion Polled Hereford Steer. Needless to say, that’s the best I ever did at the Beef Expo. I continued to show through my senior year of high school and was happy to be “finished” with cattle when I went off to college. Now, my parents come down to sell heifers each year and I get to visit them while they’re in town. Today my mom and I went for lunch and I told my dad I would lead the heifers in the sale ring tomorrow (he’s convinced they’ll sell higher if I do it). I have lots of memories from the Beef Expo and I’m glad I get the opportunity to make more through my job here at the Foundation. 

In addition to the Beef Expo excitement, I have a couple of other projects going on that I’d like to share with you. To start, I had my first individual committee meeting last night for the Corndog Kickoff and have another one scheduled for tonight! Our theme for this year’s Kickoff is “Building a Blue Ribbon Tradition,” highlighting the changes our beautiful Fairgrounds has undergone over the years and the role the Foundation has had in some of those changes. It’s truly amazing to see how our renovation projects have improved these beautiful fairgrounds. If you’re not familiar with some of the building projects, you should check it our on our renovations page.  

In my first post, I mentioned that I had written a list of goals for this year. In addition to the blog, another goal on my list was get an eBay account up and running for the Foundation. It has come up in discussion several times at the office so I set aside some time last week and put up our first item for auction. A diehard Iowa Hawkeye fan and Iowa State Fair supporter donated a pair of Hawkeye football game pants signed by the star place-kicker Nate Kaeding for us to sell as a fundraiser for the Foundation. Check out the item and get your bids in…the auction ends on Monday! For the months of February and March, a new item will be listed for auction each Monday and run for seven days before it’s sold. Items will include discontinued collectibles and other Iowa State Fair merchandise.  

As I’ve said before, I’m really excited about getting word out about the Foundation in the online community and taking full advantage of social media opportunities. So…remember to check our website, visit us on Facebook, and of course stay tuned for our next blog update! We greatly appreciate all our supporters do for the Fair and we want to do our part in keeping you informed about how we’re making your dollars work to make our Fair even better!

My View…

Finally, a sunny day! The image I’ve included is the view from my desk. I have to admit, I really love my office and the view it affords me of our fairgrounds. When I’m stumped, need to collect my thoughts or just take a short break as I wrestle with numbers, I gaze out my window. I’m always amazed at the activity that I see going on, even without the Fair. For instance…..

    As I snapped this picture a maintenance truck was going by loaded with snow. With the Iowa Beef Expo starting next week, our maintenance department is trying to clear snow out of the barns area for all the cattle and trailer traffic. On several days next week, I’ll look out and see pickups and trailers parked along the road in front of our office.People walking their dogs or running. Yes, even on these cold days, I always see two or three people go by.

    School buses – I’m assuming they are drivers in training. And speaking of drivers in training, many a “mean” parent has made a child stop and start a manual transmission car on the road in front of our office. I just hope that they don’t want them to practice parallel parking between my car and another!

    Tactical units – one summer day I observed a tactical unit practice hostage rescue by storming the Cultural Center. And, when a presidential candidate visited, a Secret Service agent (fully armed) walked by to take up a position on our roof.

    I know the Fair is about two months away when I see the golf carts go back and forth from the Cultural Center to Grand Avenue for the Pork Expo; a month away when our crews put up the tarps on the AE Dairy Stage and about two weeks away when Campbell’s moves in their Corn Dog stand.

    And I get such pleasure in the simple act of watching the squirrels. On hot summer days, I’ll often see one taking a break by laying spreadeagle on the top board of the bench outside. And, now in this snow covered world, I’m amazed how they can seek out a nut they buried in the fall -though I have to admit it hasn’t been recently. (I’m just waiting to see a salted nutroll rather than an acorn get uncovered some day.)

The fairgrounds is always busy, no matter what time of the year and I feel lucky that I get to see it from such a neat vantage point. As I watch the seasons change out my window, I’m reminded again and again of what the Foundation is trying to accomplish and how worthwhile it is to preserve and improve such a treasured fairgrounds. As Allyson mentioned in her opening blog, we really hope you’ll be able to get a new appreciation of all that happens during the year and how much we value your support.

Robin

What do you love about the Fair?

Despite the snow and chilly temperatures, I can’t help but think of State Fair time! I love the Fair. From the people watching to all of the foods on a stick, each year I find something new to love.  

Even though the great Iowa State Fair is still a few months off, you can show your love for the Fair on your state tax returns. Now, I know the Fair and taxes aren’t necessarily things you would put together. But, when the Corndog Checkoff began sixteen years ago, the Fair was made a part of your tax-filing experience! Look for the State Fairgrounds Renovation Checkoff on line 58b on Iowa Tax form 1040 or line 14 on Iowa Tax form 1040A.  

Checkoff dollars go to support the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s efforts to continue to renovate, preserve and protect the Iowa State Fairgrounds. You don’t need to make a huge contribution, every dollar makes a difference! Last year, more than $72,000 were contributed through tax returns.

We all have things that we love about the Iowa State Fair. Let’s all do our part to make sure that the things that we love about the Fair will still be here for generations to come!

There are many things that I have to experience every year at the Fair. Tell me, what is one thing you have to make sure that you see every year, or your trip to the Fair won’t be complete?

This April, be thinking of those things as you fill out your tax returns!