A Vision to Leave a Legacy: Endowment Builds a Strong Foundation for the Future
It all started with a vision—the creation of a foundation that would raise funds to renovate and preserve the deteriorating facility known as the Iowa State Fairgrounds. With the backing of the Fair board, Executive Director John Putney put the vision on paper and started the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation.
The goal of raising $30 million in 10 years to address the most pressing repairs was lofty in a time of economic instability. Through many avenues and generous individual support, however, we have now raised more than $100 million.
While there is still much to be done, the success of the Foundation's efforts is apparent as our Fairgrounds are the envy of all in the industry.
"Thanks to all of you, we have re-established the Iowa State Fair and her home, the Fairgrounds, as a source of pride for all Iowans. We must never again allow this institution to fall into the state of disrepair that encumbered us not that many years ago," John says.
Now it is time to protect the investment we have all made in our beloved Fairgrounds. While the vision stays strong, what is our legacy?
In April 2011, Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill significant to the future of the Iowa State Fair. This bill authorized the Foundation to establish an endowment designed to assure perpetual funding for maintenance and improvement projects.
"Building an endowment fund to a level in which the dollars given will yield an annual dividend used for the upkeep of the wonderful 100-plus-year-old structures on the grounds will benefit the Iowa State Fair and the people who love it tremendously," says Gary Slater, Iowa State Fair CEO. "A gift to the endowment is a perpetual gift, a legacy given to the people of Iowa for generations to come."
Alan Brown, president of the Fair board, says, "The endowment fund is going to grow into one of the greatest financial assets of the Fair. To have the opportunity to offer this option to the generous people of Iowa who love the Fair helps ensure the continued growth and success of our internationally recognized event."
Then, Now and Tomorrow
Everything starts small, with a vision. The first Iowa State Fair was a three-day event drawing 8,500 people. Today it is 11 days with an attendance topping 1 million.
"Our donors will play a critical role in restoring and preserving all aspects of our historic Fairgrounds when they support the endowment," explains incoming Foundation Executive Director Peter Cownie. "It is an opportunity to leave a legacy that will benefit all those who love the Iowa State Fair forever."
Simply stated, it is our Fair's future.