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Add Grocery Bagging Contest to Your State Fair To-Do List

August 4, 2016
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Check out the best grocery baggers from across the state as they compete for the Iowa Best Bagger title August 12 during the Iowa State Fair.

DES MOINES, Iowa Make plans to cheer on your favorite grocery bagger during the Iowa Best Bagger Competition at the Iowa State Fair. Always a crowd pleaser, the fun, free event delivers laughter and excitement as baggers do their best to build balanced bags, avoid crushing loaves of bread and breaking eggs, and do it faster than the competition.

The annual Iowa Best Bagger Contest, hosted by the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, is set for Friday, August 12, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. The competition will begin at 1 p.m. on the stage of the Susan Knapp Amphitheater, located on Grand Ave., east of the grandstand and midway just past the Animal Learning Center on the north side of the street.

Each year, approximately 200-300 people gather to view the free event and root for their favorite local grocer. The competition features the best baggers in Iowa, giving them the chance to exhibit their skills against one another.

"Iowa's Best Bagger contest is a popular event at the State Fair," says Iowa Grocery Industry Association President Michelle Hurd. "Most of the contestants take bagging groceries to a whole new level of skill. It's an amazing thing to watch, and it's great to see how the crowd gets caught up in the excitement of the competition."

This year's event will spotlight 17 contestants in three preliminary heats followed by a championship round of the top six baggers who score the most points in the preliminary heats.

2016 Best Bagger Contestants

Joe Tomlin, Cash Saver, Des Moines

Mikasia Jacobsen, West Street Market, Manning


Amy Bradley, West Street Market, Manning

Kevin Kiesel, Fareway Stores, Boone

Ben O'Neal, Fareway Stores, Boone

Sean Fitzsimmons, Fareway Stores, Boone

Trevor Erb, Fareway Stores, Polk City (hometown Boone)

Haile Cook, Fareway Stores, Cedar Rapids

Moises DelaCruz, Hy-Vee, Storm Lake

Justin Nera, Hy-Vee, Storm Lake

Jordyn Kleinheksel, Hy-Vee, Waterloo

Em Hutchinson, Hy-Vee, West Des Moines (hometown Martensdale)

Melissa Box, Hy-Vee, Windsor Heights (hometown Fairfield)

James Armstrong, Hy-Vee, Ankeny (hometown Grimes)

Elizabeth Rucker, Hy-Vee, Johnston (hometown Martensdale)

Trevor DeForest, Fareway Stores, Maquoketa (hometown Osceola)

Cory Vogel, Fareway Stores, Clarinda (hometown Storm Lake)

Contestants will bag identical grocery orders consisting of no more than 40 commonly purchased items into reusable shopping bags. They will be ranked primarily on weight distribution among bags and speed, but proper item arrangement and individual style will also be scored.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top four finishers. The overall champion also earns a trip for two to the National Best Bagger Competition in Las Vegas, which holds a grand prize of $10,000.

While the judges are tallying the overall scores of the championship round, fans will be treated to the Celebrity Best Bagger Competition. Evaluated strictly on speed and who can have the most fun, the winner of the celebrity contest will earn a traveling trophy to display for one year as well as $250, sponsored by Fareway Stores Inc., to donate to a charity of his or her choice.

Challenging for the celebrity trophy are: Colleen Kelly | Ken, Colleen and Kurt in the Morning (Star 102.5); Eddie Hatfield, Hatfield & McCoy Morning Show (92.5 Nash ICON); Jackie Schmillen |

CW Iowa Live Morning Show on KCWI-23; Ellen Schlarmann, 2015 Iowa State Fair Queen and Dallas Lehman, the 2015 Iowa Best Bagger Winner, Hy-Vee, Mason City.

Members of the crowd have a chance to win one of several gift cards for answering grocery industry trivia questions.

Companies sponsoring the 2016 Iowa Best Bagger Contest include the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, Coca-Cola, Cylinder Express and Kellogg Company. Prize sponsors include Hiland Dairy, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Cookies Food Products and PepsiCo. Fareway Stores Inc. will provide the celebrity charity donation.

All non-perishable food items used in the competition will be donated to the Food Bank of Iowa in Des Moines.

National Best Bagger Champions from Iowa

2000: Mike Mechura (Fareway Stores Boone, Iowa)

1997: Allen Weimerskirch (Fareway Stores Creston, Iowa)

1996: Mike Dahm (Fareway Stores New Hampton, Iowa)

1994: Jeff Stearns (Fareway Stores Boone, Iowa)

1987: Paul Heffernan (Fareway Stores Manchester, Iowa)

1986: Paul Heffernan (Fareway Stores Manchester, Iowa)

Iowa Best Bagger Champions (Since 1995)

2015 Dallas Lehman (Hy-Vee, Johnston, Iowa)

2014 Tyler Miller (Hy-Vee, West Des Moines)

2013: Matthew Munstermann (Hy-Vee, Altoona)

2012: Tim Hannan (Fareway Stores, Des Moines)

2011: Jacob Laursen (Fareway Stores, Cresco, Iowa)

2010: Jeremy Mescher (Fareway Stores Sheldon, Iowa)

2009: David Kistenmacher (Fareway Stores Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

2008: Brian Beneke (Fareway Stores Cresco, Iowa)

2007: Aric Reicks (Fareway Stores Sioux City, Iowa)

2006: Brenda Wygle (Fareway Stores New Hampton, Iowa)

2005: Dan Klinkenberg (Fareway Stores Eagle Grove, Iowa)

2004: Tony Haisman (Fareway Stores Waterloo, Iowa)

2003: Kevin McCormick (Fareway Stores Ottumwa, Iowa)

2002: Jim Westphalen (Fareway Stores Clinton, Iowa)

2001: Jeff Kessler (Hy-Vee Iowa City, Iowa)

2000: Keith Voss (Fareway Stores Vinton, Iowa)

1999: Mike Mechura (Fareway Stores Boone, Iowa)

1998: Steve Tielbur (Fareway Stores Boone, Iowa)

1997: Roger Wirtz (Fareway Stores Cherokee, Iowa)

1996: Allen Weimerskirch (Fareway Stores Creston, Iowa)

1995: Mike Dahm (Fareway Stores New Hampton, Iowa)



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