When Iowans think of the Iowa State Fair, the first thing that usually comes to mind is food. Now, a one million dollar gift will create more room for food displays and competitions. John Putney, Executive Director of the State Fair’s Blue Ribbon Foundation, says the Iowa State Fair’s food division is the largest state fair food department in the U.S., offering about 895 classes and 216 divisions.
Putney says the gift from the Denny and Candy Elwell family of West Des Moines will transform the Iowa Tourism Building into the Elwell Family Food Center. "The food department has simply outgrown it’s current facility, almost 13,000 food exhibits were entered in 2006 alone," says Putney. He calls the project a "win-win" for both the food center and the tourism exhibits.
"What we’ll do is transform the existing Iowa Tourism Building into this new Elwell Family Food Center and then move the tourism exhibits to the south hall of the varied industries building," explains Putney. The Elwell family has been attending the fair for five generations, and before entering real-estate development in 1985, the family ran a grocery store in Des Moines.