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A History Lesson

Iowa State fairgrounds

The Iowa State Fairgrounds

Recently our staff had a field trip. We visited the State Historical Society for a tour of its collections and library. Knowing that we were from the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation, Becki Plunkett, the special collections archivist, pulled several files of old Iowa State Fair photos. We excitedly poured over the images, trying to place where these photos were taken as we visualized the Fairgrounds today. Some had landmarks we know, but others made us wonder...where?

A little digging found that the grounds we know today played host to the Iowa State Fair beginning in 1886. A building and improvement committee consisting of an engineer, an architect and a superintendent were appointed to guide the construction of 67 buildings in a six-month period. We are fortunate that one of those buildings, Pioneer Hall, is still in use today.

In regard to future building, the architect Mr. Hackney reported, "A thorough plan should be adopted for the parking and the planting of the grounds, and the work of planting commenced as soon as possible. A building can be built in a very short time—an elegant elm requires years to reach maturity." Already there was a vision for our Fair's future. In the late 1890s, a master plan for the Fairgrounds was developed from which the buildings we currently use were planned.

While much on our Fairgrounds has changed, that master plan of the 1890s is still very much alive today. Grand Avenue and Rock Island, the location of the barns, the Grandstand and Campgrounds—all were part of the vision to build Fairgrounds that would stand the test of time. The many trees that were planted and the ones we continue to plant guarantee our park-like nature remains.

After 160 years, people still look to the Iowa State Fair as a celebration of not only the best Iowa has to offer, but also our nation. While many fairs are struggling, the Iowa State Fair continues to get bigger and better. We are envied and looked to from around the world as a venue where people, products and purpose are celebrated. It is only because of everyone's efforts—volunteers, visitors, exhibitors, concessionaires and staff—that we have achieved this status.

Now I invite you to visit the Fairgrounds on a normal day—to truly appreciate the foresight our Fair forefathers had in building a facility to house the Fair, and grounds that are truly a beautiful entity, even without the Fair.

Thank you for your support of the Blue Ribbon Foundation over the years. We hope you will continue to help us preserve and build upon the vision of that original building and improvement committee. Our Fair's future depends on it.

Protect the Fair's Future
Learn how you can help ensure the Iowa State Fair can continue to provide joy and beauty for future generations by planning a gift to the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation. Contact Robin Taylor at or (515) 262-3111 x373 today.

eBrochure Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the brochure.

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I, [name], of [city, state ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to the Blue Ribbon Foundation or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to the Blue Ribbon Foundation as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to the Blue Ribbon Foundation as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and the Blue Ribbon Foundation where you agree to make a gift to the Blue Ribbon Foundation and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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