Brick Give-a-way Week 4: Cattle Barn

Congratulations to Michele Deiber Kumm for winning the brick at Pioneer Hall.

Built in 1920, the Cattle Barn serves the Fairgrounds year round.  First construction created 1,520 stalls, an office, a dining room and sleeping quarters for the Cattle Barn.  The structure was created very open from one side of the barn to the other, allowing the public to easily access each year’s exhibitors.  The initial structure even had city water distributed to all parts of the building through an elaborate drainage system. 

The Cattle Barn now has an additional 480 stalls totaling to 2,000.  Today, the barn witnesses livestock shows, auctions, trade shows and meeting.  The Fair brings in up to 4,000 head with even some exotic and European breeds.

Tell us about the last time you visited the Cattle Barn.
Add a comment here or on Facebook by 10:00 a.m. June 30 to enter to win a brick at Pioneer Hall.


Brick Give-a-Way Week 3: Pioneer Hall

Congratulations to Lindsey Wanderscheid, winner of the Anne & Bill Riley Stage brick!

With food and entertainment, every Fairgoer walks through the gates ready for a day full of memory-making and fun.  As they stroll up the Fairgrounds hill, they find themselves greeted with Pioneer Hall, a reminder of yesterday’s Fair.  Pioneer Hall is the only building remaining of the 67 originally constructed for the permanent Fairgrounds.  With a beautiful wooden structure complete with high ceilings and its distinctive red cupola, the building debuted at the 1886 Fair where it sits today, atop the hill by the Richard L. Easter Museum Complex. 

As an exhibition hall, Pioneer Hall has served a number of purposes in its lifetime.  From a poultry building to a storage facility, the building has even operated as an employee dormitory at one point. Today, within the wooden structure, is the Museum of Iowa Agriculture.  However, as the Fair approaches, the museum is joined by antiques for display and judged competitions during the Fair. 

However, without the help of the Farm Bureau, the Pioneer Hall would have never been reopened in 1996.  The Bureau funded extensive renovations to the aging hall.  The renovation stabilized this building for the future working on the hall’s foundation and footing.

Throughout the Fair, music fills the air from the fiddlers, potters work with their clay, while blacksmiths and furniture makers diligently create.  People visit with friends over lemonade, watch women throw sand-filled rubber chickens and admire the antiques. 

What brings you to Pioneer Hall during the Fair?
Add a comment here or on Facebook by 10:00 a.m. June 23 to enter to win a brick at Pioneer Hall.

Brick Give-a-way Week 2: Anne & Bill Riley Stage

Congratulations to Carol Britson, the winner of the brick at the Ag Building!

Once known as the Plaza Stage, today’s Anne and Bill Riley Stage has been entertainment-filled stage since its construction in 1927.  From the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s recognition of each Iowan of the Day to the State Fair Talent Search, visitors can always expect something on the stage. 

The stage was dedicated to Bill Riley in 1996 as a way to remember the many hours Bill devoted to the Iowa State Fair.  Bill began the State Fair Talent Search and served as its host for 50 years.  It was also Bill Riley that enabled the renovation of what was then the Plaza Stage.

A $100,000 contribution in 1996 funded the two phases of renovation of the stage.  During the first phase of renovation, an additional 500 square feet of stage and 3,400 square feet of roofing were constructed as the existing structure was restored.  A second phase of renovation established a sound and light control booth and created landscaped seating for 3,000 visitors. 

It was only in recent years that the stage name changed from the Bill Riley Stage to Anne and Bill Riley Stage.

What’s your favorite act to see on the Anne & Bill Riley Stage?
Add a comment here or on Facebook by 10:00 a.m. June 16 to enter to win a brick at the Anne & Bill Riley Stage.

Brick Give-a-way Week 1: Ag Building


The Agriculture Building, the John Deere Agriculture Building, the Ag Building, Home of the Famous Butter Cow.  Refer to it as you may, the Agriculture Building’s construction began in 1904, 25 years after the Iowa State Fair began its legacy in Des Moines.

The building was constructed in an exposition-style and even after its renovation in 1995, the Ag Building continues to portray the same style.  The 1995 restoration involved a new roof, updating all the building’s  windows and doors, and brick and mortar work.

For years, the Ag Building has housed the many horticultural and floricultural displays of the Iowa State Fair.  It also welcomes visitors of the Butter Cow and each year’s butter sculpture. 

What’s your favorite thing to see in the Ag Building?
Add a comment here or on Facebook by 10:00 a.m. June 9 to enter to win a brick at the Ag Building.

Building a Blue Ribbon Tradition

At this year’s Corndog Kickoff , we’ll be “Building a Blue Ribbon Tradition,” celebrating all of the renovations that have been done around the Iowa State Fairgrounds. In honor of this, over the next few weeks, we will be posting blogs about the history of several buildings on the Fairgrounds. Each week, you will have the opportunity to win a brick to be placed at the building highlighted that week. Watch for more information in the days to come! We hope you learn a bit more about the history of the Iowa State Fairgrounds and why it’s so important that we preserve these  historic buildings!