Building Excitement

Hey Fair-lovers! My name is Billy Boyle, and I’m one of the three interns working for the Blue Ribbon Foundation this summer. In the fall I’ll be attending Central College as a senior with a major in Communication Studies and a minor in Business Management.  I’m really excited to be working here this summer, because I love going to the Fair and now I’ll be here all eleven days!

I started last week, but I’ve already learned a lot, especially about the history of the Fairgrounds.  For example, did you know that the Iowa State Fair once had a baby elephant? Her name was Baby Mine, and she first came to the Fair in 1929 where she lived inside the barn at Grandfather’s Farm. Or did you know that there used to be airplane shows in front of the Grandstand?  Those stopped around mid-century after such wild shenanigans as when F.F. “Bowser” Frakes, a race-car driver posing as a pilot, crashed his WWI Jenny biplane into a house that had been constructed in front of the Grandstand just to be destroyed.  Or how about that some houses in Des Moines contain lumber from the old wooden roller coaster that used to span the grass parking lot between University Ave and the Grandstand?

All in all, my first week has been great. I can’t wait for all the chaos of Fairtime to get here–the long days, the people, the shows and attractions.  Slowly but surely, I’m learning the inside outs of putting together various events to raise money for the treasure that is the Iowa State Fair.  Only 78 days and counting until the first day, when I can gorge on all that wonderful food!  It will be a nice change from the leftovers I usually bring for lunch at the office.


Searching for Shining Stars

First and foremost, let me introduce myself. I am Samantha Liametz, or Sam, one of the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s three interns for this summer. If you have been reading the blogs you already know, I attend Iowa State University majoring in journalism, business management and communication studies. “Why three majors?” many ask.  My reasoning is because I figure you can never have enough background. 

I have been with the Foundation since the beginning of March only working part-time during the school year. This week, I gratefully welcomed our two other interns, Stefany and Billy, to the Foundation as I finished putting together my final media kits for every newspaper, radio station and television station in the state of Iowa. 

“What is so pressing that everyone in the state needs to know about it?” you ask. 

I’m glad you asked! Every year, the Blue Ribbon Foundation and Cookies Food Products look for 10 outstanding Iowan volunteers to recognize during the Iowa State Fair.  These people are the shining stars of your lives. They personify the greatness of Iowa with a strong work ethic, loyalty to helping others, and an outstanding sense of Iowa pride.  Anyone come to mind? 

We need your help finding the shining stars of Iowa.  By logging on to the Iowan of the Day page, you can find more information about the program including a sample winning nomination packet and a printable nomination form (or click Iowan of the Day – Nomination Form right here to print one!).  Feel free to call or email me if you have any questions or would like me to send you a nomination packet at 515-262-3111 ext. 678 or

I look forward to seeing some amazing Iowans in the upcoming weeks! Until then, have a great weekend, hopefully the weather will be as nice as they predict!

Exhibition Center Updates

If you’ve been following our blog since we first started it in January, you’ve probably caught mention of the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center in at least a few different posts. We are extremely excited to be opening this state-of-the-art facility for this year’s Fair!   

Yesterday KCCI came to the grounds to report progress made on the building. The news crew and Dick Jacobson, the exhibition center’s largest donor, toured the facility to see the stage of construction just 3 months prior to completion. To watch the video coverage, click here.   

Also, check out some recent photos of the construction…this facility is going to be phenomenal!   

Construction crew member installing the skylight.


View of the building taken from the northwest corner.


The main entrance of the exhibition center located on the west end.


 If you’d like to help with the funding of the Jacobson Center, please take a look at our giving program, Block by Block and get your name on the donor wall for this year’s Fair!

Hitting Milestones

Often, we measure our lives in terms of milestones. First day of school. College graduation. First job. The list goes on and on. Tonight, is a personal milestone: my husband is graduating from Iowa State with a Masters in Engineering. After nearly four years of juggling classes, thesis writing as well as a full-time job, it will be completed and we’ll have the diploma in hand! In fairness, I had very little to do with the process itself save for providing moral support, listening to theories about things I don’t understand, and brewing endless pots of coffee.  The journey to this large milestone was marked by many, many small ones, all leading up to the final accomplishment.

We’ve reached many milestones at the Fair as well,  restoring the Varied Industries Building and the Agriculture Building, reaching a record setting attendance of 1.1 million people, building the Animal Learning Center and opening the Jacobson Exhibition Center. Each year marks a new goal met. Throughout the year, we meet our own smaller milestones too. From record numbers of auction packages at last year’s Corndog Kickoff to a successful Fair to the best Fairgrounds 5K we’ve had, we look forward to each small accomplishment.

As Allyson mentioned previously, we’re down to double digits until the Fair, yikes! That’s a milestone in and of itself! We’ll be working hard to make sure that this year’s Corndog Kickoff and Iowa State Fair are the best yet. Tonight, though, I’m going to be enjoying this personal milestone and looking forward to the future!

The countdown is on!

After today, it’s only 99 days until the Iowa State Fair! Spring always tends to get me a little anxious about the upcoming Fair, but now that we’re down to double digits, the pressure really sets in!

But, before the Fair, we have the Corndog Kickoff. Countdown: 67  days. For me, the Kickoff might be even a little bit crazier than the Fair. Our duties with the water and merchandise stands during the Fair become a routine operation by the third day or so, but with the Kickoff, you only get one night to make sure everything runs smoothly.

In preparation for the upcoming event I’ve been busy working with our different committees to create photo backdrops, centerpieces, decorate the entrances and the stage. I also coordinate the patron program, communications, set-up, sound, and concessionaires for the event. Emily works with the publicity committee to get the word out and Robin coordinates the live and silent auction. If you’d like to help out by donating to the auction or becoming a Corndog Kickoff Patron, click here!

Tickets for this annual fundraiser, complete with exciting auction packages, fair food sampling, SkyGlider rides and fireworks, will be available online starting May 17th. All proceeds will benefit the renovation and preservation of the Iowa State Fairgrounds!

So, if you can’t wait 99 days to get that deep-fat-fried corn dog, come to the Kickoff on July 10th and get a taste of our pre-Fair party!