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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

July 23, 2009

ISU touts research, economic impact at state fair exhibit

by Annette Hacker, News Service

Iowa State has had a significant presence at the Iowa State Fair for more than a century, and plans are underway for this year’s exhibit. The focus is a timely topic – the economy – and this year’s theme is, “Iowa State University: A Leader in Creating Economic Energy for Iowa.”

Towers in the exhibit will tout the $1.52 billion ISU channels into the state’s economy annually – more than six times the state appropriation the university receives. Fairgoers will learn about the $1.9 million in royalties that have resulted from Iowa State technologies being licensed to Iowa companies, the $100 million in economic activity and 1,500 new jobs associated with ISU’s Research Park, and the university’s business outreach and Extension programs that have improved the lives of Iowans.

As always, Iowa State’s exhibit will be in the northeast corner of the air-conditioned Varied Industries Building throughout the fair, which runs Aug. 13-23. The building is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Visitors to the booth can pick up Cyclone football posters and schedules, and register to win Cyclone football tickets. University Book Store staff will sell Iowa State merchandise in the exhibit.

A leaner presence at the fair

While Iowa State’s presence will be much the same at this year’s state fair, alumni and fans who visit the exhibit will notice some changes, too – changes that have been driven by the current economy. Fewer people will staff the display, and no promotional items (temporary tattoos or Cy headbands) will be given away.

The move will result in a savings of approximately $30,000, said university marketing director Carole Custer, who oversees ISU’s state fair exhibit.

“The university is dealing with a budget cut of more than $38 million this fiscal year,” Custer said. “Everyone at the university is looking at every expense and asking, ‘Is it necessary?’ Cutting giveaways at the fair is one small, reasonable step that will help preserve funding for our most important priorities – our students’ education.

“We know that our loyal fans – especially the kids – might be disappointed not to receive a tattoo or a promotional item, but we also know Iowans will understand that we’re simply trying to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

Custer suggested that Cyclone fans might show their spirit by wearing cardinal and gold to the fair.

The usual suspects

ISU Extension’s presence will be visible at the fair, with banners and videos highlighting experts in the 4-H Exhibits Building. The building also will teem with youth projects and exhibits, and visitors will notice new technology in the building this year. Jumbo screens will provide text message polling and will show a variety of video clips.

The youth Iowa 4-H State Technology Team will capture special moments during the fair and broadcast them on 4-H TV, online at And, kids can participate in free, hands-on activities including GIS/GPS mapping and robotics with Legos®. As always, 4-H members will present judges with thousands of livestock and horticulture entries throughout the run of the fair.

Iowa Public Radio’s Katherine Perkins and John Pemble will report on happenings at the fair through a series of mini-documentaries that will air during “The Exchange” and “Talk@12,” said IPR news director Jonathan Ahl.

‘Stitch This!’

On Aug. 21 and 22, 13 teams of Iowa teens will compete in the new “Stitch This!” competition, culminating in a runway-style fashion show at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 22 on the 4-H building’s center stage.

The teams will tear apart donated wedding gowns and create new garments. At least 75 percent of the fabric contained in the final garment must be from the original dress. Each team will be paired with an ISU student, who will provide direction and overall expertise on pattern-making and construction.

The grand-prize winning team will appear on Michele Beschen’s “b. organic” show on Iowa Public Television. Each member of the winning team attending the College of Human Sciences will receive a $500 scholarship. In addition, each team member will receive two tickets to the ISU Fashion Show, and the winning garment will be on display at the State 4-H Office.


ISU's theme for this year's Iowa State Fair exhibit is "Iowa State University: A Leader in Creating Economic Energy for Iowa," and will focus on the economy.