And the award goes to….

It’s a Fair Game was the big new item that the Foundation introduced last summer at the Fair. Following the success of Fairopoly in 2004, we had wanted to create a pathway game of the Fair so that Fair fans could enjoy the trek around the grounds from the comforts of home. Something that was really necessary this winter with all of our snow!

Well, recognition of our game just went national in January. It’s a Fair Game was the recipient of the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) Pyramid Award. There are only 5 categories for this national award and we won for consumer programs. Dan Livengood, co-creator of It’s a Fair Game, jumped through all the hurdles this fall to fill out the application to be considered. From there, the file is reviewed and, most often, passed over, as there are only 3 finalists per category. Dan was tickled pink when he found out in late November that our game was selected as one of the finalists. As with an Oscar, it’s just an honor to be nominated!

In January, Dan attended the PPAI annual convention in Las Vegas where the award was announced at a special, black-tie recommended banquet. He was all set to applaud graciously for the winner of our category when, much to his surprise, it was our game that was announced the winner. Walking onstage, Dan said he imagined that’s what winning an Oscar was like.

Dan Livengood, on right, accepting the Pyramid Award.

It’s a Fair Game was a collaborative effort between myself, Dan and Cathy Rickers, the illustrator. The time, thought and planning (as well as laughter when coming up with the text for the path and when seeing Cathy’s latest images) that went into the game was quite extensive. So, to have it go over well with fans of the Iowa State Fair is great but the cherry on top is having it recognized within a very competitive industry as something special too. That makes all the frustration of trying to fill in the last 3 spaces with something creative all worth it.

Dan Livengood, Robin Taylor and Cathy Rickers with their creation at the 2009 Corn Dog Kickoff.

For more information on the award you can read an article in the PPB magazine’s March issue or see our press release. And, if you don’t have a copy of the award-winning It’s a Fair Game, there are a few left after the 2009 Iowa State Fair. To order just go to our website or contact the Foundation at 1-800-450-3732.


Making Progress


A view of the Jacobson Exhibition Center from the west.

Last week I had the opportunity to walk through the Jacobson Exhibition Center to check out the progress! It’s amazing how far it has come, but there’s still lots to do! With all the melting going on it was a muddy mess but I thought you might like an update of the progress.

A view of the arena.

A view of the arena.

The second floor VIP area.

Construction continues as workers scurry around to make sure that the building is ready to go by Fair time! It is a construction zone; I had to wear a hard hat!

While the workers continue to work to make sure that the building is ready to go at Fair time, the Foundation continues to raise funds to make the building possible. We are very excited about our newest giving program, Block by Block, the donor wall that will be on display in the foyer of the Jacobson Center.

Design of the Block by Block donor wall.

Designed to look like a barn quilt, each colored square represents a different donor level. For more information about the donor wall or to make a contribution, go here.

Exciting things are going on around here, we’re excited for you to see the Jacobson Center for yourself this August! Until then stay tuned for more updates! Happy Monday!

The Faces of the Foundation

I have been working full-time for the Foundation since November of 2009, so just a little over a year, and since the first day I started I have been meaning to take a staff photo to post on our website. With an office of only four full-time staff, you would think this would be an easy task – not too many schedules to line up for a 5 minute picture. Wrong.

It may have taken over a year to bring up the subject, plan a date and time, and actually take the photo, but we did it! Of course I then immediately went to post it to the staff page on the website and I ran into complications. But, the picture is taken and now it is up! 

Back Row: John Putney, Executive Director; Robin Taylor, Assistant Director; Front Row: Allyson Krull, Communications Manager; Emily Saveraid, Sponsorship Director

With the warmer temperatures and all this melting snow, it appears Spring is finally on its way! Things are also starting to pick up here at the Foundation. For me, the giving programs deadline is approaching quickly so I am getting all of those things in order (benches, bricks, donor wall, etc.), as well as other membership programs including Fan Fair and the 1854 Society

One of my biggest projects during the year, though, is the annual Corndog Kickoff Benefit Auction and Fair Food Grazing Party held just weeks before the Fair. I’ve met with each of my planning committees and we will start getting into more of the details in our meetings next week. I can’t believe how quickly time passes! If you have never attended the Kickoff, you must experience “Building a Blue Ribbon Tradition” on July 10 at the Varied Industries Building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds…it’s a Fair lover’s dream! Be sure to stay tuned to our blog- I will update you with more Kickoff details in future posts. 

While I’ve only taken time to mention a few of the projects that are keeping me busy at the moment, there is so much more that happens year-round here at the Foundation. John, Emily and Robin also have several projects going on at once, which keeps this a busy place. I know I can speak for all of us when I say that we truly love what we’re doing and we believe in making the Iowa State Fair a better place for future generations. Along with all of our supporters and volunteers, we are proud to be the faces of the foundation.

Attend your local county fair this summer!

Zone 5 Conference attendees sit in on a session workshop.


Last weekend, Foundation and State Fair staff organized and attended the Zone 5 Conference for the International Association of Fairs and Expositions. The Iowa State Fair is a member of the IAFE and hosted the conference. Representatives from fairs large and small from Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri & Nebraska came to learn more about the fair industry from speakers, sessions and each other. In addition, our own Allyson Krull sang the National Anthem! Who knew we had such talent on our staff? 

While our involvement in IAFE may not be apparent to the general public, Fairgoers do reap the benefits of our learning! We talk about what works and what doesn’t and share ideas for how to make our fairs better, whether it’s the state fair or a local county fair. 

I love getting back to the Linn County Fair where I grew up. The fair has changed a lot since I participated (for the better, I might add!) and I always like to see what’s new. I consider the county fair my roots, because if I hadn’t started showing there, I might not have made it to the Iowa State Fair! 

Do you attend your local county fair? If you don’t, take some time this summer to stop by! You’re sure to see great exhibits, entertainment and of course food! Consider it an opportunity to get excited about the Iowa State Fair!