Iowa State University

News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777



Carole Custer, University Marketing, (515) 294-3134

Annette Hacker, News Service, (515) 294-3720

Step right up, catch ISU at the Iowa State Fair Aug. 11-21

AMES, Iowa -- Munching on a corn dog with mustard. Riding sky-high atop the double Ferris Wheel. Standing in line to see the Butter Cow. And getting your Cyclone tattoo at the Iowa State exhibit.

There are just certain traditions Iowans expect at the Iowa State Fair, and stopping by the Iowa State University exhibit is a must-do for many, says ISU Marketing Director Carole Custer. Custer and crew temporarily tattoo more than 30,000 Cyclone faithful during the fair's 11-day run. The tattoos are always a big draw, she says, but even better is the exhibit itself. It completely changes every year and attempts to bring a little bit of campus to the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

This year, Iowa State's cardinal and gold display will be an oasis at the northeast end of the Varied Industries Building. Visitors will be able to walk among more than 150 tropical plants encircling a dazzling garden fountain, all from Iowa State University's Reiman Gardens. Displays of pinned exotic butterflies and samples of the famous Griffith Buck roses from the world's largest collection at Reiman Gardens also will be on display. Fun faceboards will entice children to "become" butterflies and flowers, and grown-ups can capture the moment on camera -- photo-taking is encouraged, Custer said.

Prospective students can learn about internships at Reiman Gardens and how the gardens are used as an academic tool at Iowa State. Other visitors can find out more about educational opportunities and social events at the gardens.

"We are excited to bring a portion of the gardens to the people of Iowa," said Reiman Gardens Director Teresa McLaughlin. "Our hope is that the exhibit will encourage more people to take advantage of all the programs we offer. After all, Reiman Gardens' mission is to educate and enchant."

Reiman Gardens polo shirts, memberships and butterfly shadow boxes will be given away daily. There also will be drawings for Iowa State football tickets, an Iowa State afghan, and tickets to "Miss Saigon." Cyclone football posters and athletic schedules will be free for all, while they last.

Fridays are Cy-Days at the fair

Iowa State's mascot, Cy, will be the star of the show on Fridays at the Iowa State Fair. He'll be at the exhibit 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 12, and 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19. It's all part of a new school pride campaign, Eye on Cy. Over the next several months, Cy will be spreading ISU pride throughout the state, encouraging fans to support ISU and to show their pride by wearing Iowa State apparel.

ISU Extension at the fair

The Iowa State University Extension exhibit in the east end of the Grandstand will feature invasive species -- plants, animals, insects and diseases -- that were accidentally or intentionally introduced into Iowa and are harming the state's environment.

Invasive alien species take a financial toll on Iowa industries such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Vivid photos and examples of several species will be on hand. Fairgoers can learn how to stop or reverse the spread of these species.

The Extension exhibit also will highlight the USDA's new food guide pyramid. Visitors can enter data about themselves into computers and learn more about their personal diet needs. (It's a good idea to stop and do this before you consider ordering the deep-fried Snickers on a stick.)

Fairgoers who complete a technology survey are eligible to win an iPod Mini (one will be awarded daily). WOI Radio's "Talk of Iowa" (9 to 10 a.m.) and "Midday" (noon to 1 p.m.) broadcasts will air live from the ISU Extension booth.

Across the fairgrounds, nearly 4,000 youth exhibits will fill the 4-H Building. Iowa 4-Hers will provide more than 1,000 performances, including presentations, working exhibits, "Share the Fun" talent acts and extemporaneous speeches.

During a celebrity 4-H "judging" program -- not the official judging -- high-profile Iowans will review youth projects that match their areas of expertise or interest. Celebrity judges this year include ISU President Gregory Geoffroy, Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack, Better Homes and Gardens editor Karol DeWulf Nickell, and Minnesotan Garrison Keillor, host of public radio's "A Prairie Home Companion."

More than 2,000 4-H participants representing every Iowa county will exhibit an estimated 8,000 beef and dairy cows, horses, dogs, poultry, sheep, rabbits and pigs at the Iowa State Fair this year.

More about ISU Extension at the fair, including the sights from several Webcams, is online at


Quick look

Iowa State University is bringing a little bit of Reiman Gardens to the state fair this year. The university exhibit will be on the northeast end of the Varied Industries Building.