DES MOINES- John Putney, Executive Director of The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation since its beginning in 1993,has announced his retirement effective March 2014.
Putney, of Gladbrook, served two terms in the Iowa Legislature representing Tama County beginning in 2003.
The Foundation has generated more than $95 million for improvements to the Fairgrounds facilities during its 20 years. Putney will remain on staff to transition his duties to Peter Cownie who will join the Foundation August 1.
"I have been honored and grateful for the opportunity to help renovate and preserve this great institution for generations to come," Putney said. "I am extremely happy that Peter Cownie has been selected as the new Executive Director of the Blue Ribbon Foundation."
Putney, a native of Gladbrook and an Iowa State University alum, has been an avid participant in the Iowa State Fair for many years as an exhibitor, President of the Sale of Champions, and Beef Superintendent. However, his greatest legacy will be spearheading the campaign to renovate and restore the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds. His efforts have culminated in the renovation and construction of 30 Fairgrounds facilities, ranging from wiring and roofing to the complete reconstruction of the Varied Industries Building and the construction of the Jacobson Exhibition Center.
The Foundation began with the goal of raising money for the Fairgrounds' deteriorating facilities. Along the way, Putney's successful fundraising efforts have changed the face of the Fairgrounds. Projects like the Varied Industries Building built in 1911 and completely reconstructed from 2000-2002, set the new standard for Fairgrounds facilities. The fully-enclosed multi-use facility became the catalyst for numerous projects including the state-of-the-art Jacobson Exhibition Center and re-development of the southwest portion of the Fairgrounds.
Iowa State Fair CEO/Manager Gary Slater said, "John Putney's work not only renovated and constructed buildings; it also spurred new interest in the Fairgrounds as a rental facility and re-established the Iowa State Fair as one of the world's must-see events."