As the 2008 Iowa State Fair prepares to open its gates later this week, the foundation that raises money for the fair is looking forward to a major new project. The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation’s executive director, John Putney, says the Agriculture Exhibition Center will include a multi-purpose arena that should be ready by 2010.
"We’ll be able to have a lot of different events in there. Horse shows, livestock shows, trade shows, perhaps even a rodeo," Putney says. Putney says the new arena will be an improvement over the current livestock pavilion.
"We have the opportunity to have the Pergeron Horse Show here in 2010, you know you can only get so many of those six-horse hitches in that small pavilion," Putney says. He says the new arena will be able to accommodate many more hitches than four or five.
Des Moines-based insurance company, The Principal Financial Group, has donated one million dollars toward the center. Principal will pay $250,000 installments each year for the next four years. Businessman Bruce Rastetter and Mid-American Energy Company have also provided one million-dollar gifts for the project. Governor Chet Culver has also designated 11-million dollars in state money for the new exhibition center.