State fair exhibit celebrates what makes Iowa State University special

Smithsonian Exhibit

Iowa State's interactive Smithsonian Folklife Festival display will be featured in the university's State Fair exhibit in the Varied Industries Building, Aug. 9-19. Photo by Kanji Takeno.

AMES, Iowa — Visitors to Iowa State University's exhibit at the Iowa State Fair (Aug. 9-19) can share the experience enjoyed by 1 million people this summer on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  

The university's 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival exhibit will be featured in Iowa State's "Celebrating our Morrill Act Heritage" display in the air-conditioned Varied Industries Building. The exhibit was selected to be part of the national celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, which laid the foundation for land-grant universities. It showcases how Iowa State faculty, staff and students apply design to help communities solve problems.

"Our State Fair exhibit celebrates what makes Iowa State special for students and the taxpayers of Iowa," said University Marketing Director Carole Custer.

"Iowa State is one of the most accomplished land-grant schools in the nation – open to students without regard to gender or economic or social class. It's where students learn how to apply their knowledge to be job-ready upon graduation, where we make major research breakthroughs and discoveries and then take that knowledge to the citizens of Iowa for their betterment," Custer said. 

Transforming communities: design in action

Exhibit workstation

Interactive games let visitors think like designers. Photo by Kanji Takeno.

Using advanced digital technology and old-fashioned conversation, the featured exhibit demonstrates the techniques and processes designers use to create, innovate and transform communities.

  • Interactive games and activities led by design and ISU extension and outreach faculty and staff let visitors explore the world of design and think like designers.
  • Exhibit staff will demonstrate how designers use technology like a MakerBot to create prototypes and models. A MakerBot is a 3D printer that uses thermoplastic extrusion to make 3D objects.
  • The exhibit also reveals countless examples of projects generated through collaborations between Iowa State and Iowa communities -- including before-and- after-photos from the Extension and Outreach Community Visioning program and work from design students' studio class projects.
  • Visitors can help recompose panels replicated from Iowa State's 1934 Grant Wood mural, "When Tillage Begins, Other Arts Follow," by positioning painted magnetic pieces to reflect their own interpretations.

Celebrating Cyclone success with giveaways, special guests and merchandise

Iowa State will also celebrate the Cyclones' athletic success of the past year with a display of the CyHawk football game trophy, the CyHawk series trophy, the Big 12 women's cross country championship trophy and a video of athletic highlights.

During the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 12, Women's Basketball Head Coach Bill Fennelly will greet fans. The University Book Store portion of the exhibit will offer special Iowa State merchandise for the fair, and Cy will make an occasional appearance.

Visitors can sign up at the ISU exhibit for prize drawings held daily. Visitors can win a pair of football game tickets, a pair of women's volleyball game tickets, two tickets to a show from the Stephens Auditorium 2012-13 Performing Arts Series, or a copy of the new book, "The Land-Grant Act and the People’s College: Iowa State University."

Post your fan photo to Iowa State's Facebook page

Tens of thousands of Iowa State tattoos, football posters and football schedule cards will be given away. And this year, Cyclone fans can snap photos of their tattoos or pose beside the athletic trophies and upload the shots to Iowa State 's Facebook page. Each day during the fair, one fairgoer fan snapshot from the online photo album will be chosen for Iowa State's profile picture.

4-H: More than just livestock

You can't have a fair without 4-H. The 4-H Exhibits Building will be packed with projects, displays and interactive learning presentations.This year's events include:

  • Robotics Challenge, Aug. 10-11 — 11 teams of Iowa youth show off their robot designing and programming skills in a live challenge.
  • Cook This! 4-H Culinary Challenge, Aug. 12-14 — 25 teams of fifth through 12th graders demonstrate their creativity in the kitchen.
  • 4-H Hall of Fame inductions, Aug. 19 — honoring the dedicated adults who contribute tirelessly to the development of Iowa’s youth.

And in the 4-H Exhibits Building, displays from each college at Iowa State will give fairgoers the opportunity to learn more about majors and degree programs on campus.

Fair Food Finder App

Developed by the Des Moines Register and sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach, the Food Finder app for the iPhone is the fairgoers' guide to all things edible. The app can search and map foods at the fair by type or vendor, find healthy fare and nutrition information, and calculate how much activity it takes to burn calories. The app will be available at the App Store or at

Go on a scavenger hunt and visit the CyCone

Fairgoers can discover more about ISU Extension and Outreach with a scavenger hunt, beginning at the 4-H Exhibits Building and continuing around the fairgrounds. Completed scavenger hunt forms can be submitted for a chance to win an iPad. And ISU Extension and Outreach has again participated in the fair's concrete sculpture painting event. This year's sculptures are ice cream cones, and the "CyCone" will be found outside the 4-H Exhibits Building.

Show your Cyclone Pride on Aug. 11

On Saturday, Aug. 11, visitors can help turn the fairgrounds into a sea of cardinal by wearing their colors in support of Iowa State.

Doctor making house calls

Dr. Bruce Leuschen, a clinician in veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine at the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine, once again will serve as the Iowa State Fair's veterinarian. Veterinarian and ISU alum Dr. Courtney Blake and four ISU veterinary medicine students will assist him. They are responsible for the health of the thousands of animals being exhibited, as well as those participating in special events such as the rodeo and harness racing.