Iowa State Fair Renovating 4-H Building with Record-Breaking Donation


4-H building on the Iowa state fairgrounds. (WHO-HD)

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DES MOINES, Iowa — After 11 straight days of “all things Iowa State Fair,” we may be a little “faired out,” but for those behind the scenes that make it all happen they never truly get a break.

On Sunday the 4-H building at the state fairgrounds was filled with students and fairgoers, but Thursday, just days later, it’s a construction zone.

The Iowa State Fair is breaking ground on a $14 million renovation project at the 80-year-old 4-H building. The home base for thousands of students throughout the fair will be expanded to the east and west to make way for some classrooms. It also will get major upgrades throughout, from the lighting to the bathrooms and dining area.

It’s a floor to ceiling renovation that the state fair says, is important to its roots.

“4-H, youth, agriculture in Iowa, that’s the backbone of the Iowa State Fair,” Peter Cownie, Executive Director, Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation said. “That’s been our past, our present, and we want it to be our future. So that’s what we want this building, facility, and renovations to represent and I’m just thrilled. I can’t wait for next year’s fair.”

All of the renovations are possible because of a record-breaking $6 million gift by the Jacobson Foundation, honoring the late Richard Jacobson’s wish.

“Mr. Jacobson was a big believer of youth in Iowa and youth in agriculture in Iowa,” Cownie said. “We wanted to see that legacy sustained.”

Some of the original features and character of the building will stay intact. Cownie says their plan is to have the building completely renovated by the 2020 Iowa State Fair.

A few other private donations plus $5 million in state tax dollars are also helping to upgrade and expand the building.


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