DES MOINES, Iowa — Entry numbers may have been down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there was still plenty of competition at the Iowa Farm Bureau Cookout Contest at the state fair this year, where Rashawn Parker of Boone walked away with the crown.
“It’s always fun to win,” said Parker, a former Iowa State University football player who welcomed his family to the stage for pictures with the governor and state secretary of agriculture after being named to the top spot in the competition.
This was the 57th year for the cookout contest, and organizers said they were happy to be back at the grill after missing a year when the fair was canceled in 2020.
“It’s great,” said Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill, adding that “people are happy to get back together.”
All the entrants at the state fair contest already won at local or county fairs. Parker got to Des Moines by winning the beef division during the Boone County Farm Bureau Cookout Contest. At the state fair his winning entry was Picanha steaks, which he describes as a little-known cut often called sirloin cap or rump cover. He said it is a cut of beef first made popular in Brazil and later adopted in Portugal.
He won the beef division and also the showmanship category before being awarded the crown as the champion.
Parker is a native of Oklahoma who came to Iowa to play football at Iowa State University and never left. He said there was no big secret to his success at the grill, other than taking his time and not getting in a hurry, “just letting the smoker do its thing.”
“We’re all here to have a good time” he said of the state fair contest.
Other first-place category winners in this year’s cookout contest included: Shannon Glaser, Adair County, lamb; Elmer Totten, Hamilton County, pork; Hank Loyd, Fayette County, poultry; Theresa Jones, Grundy County, turkey; and Jeff Whitson, Benton County, combo/specialty. The second place winners included: Steve Heaberlin, Warren County, beef; Robert Jones, Grundy County, lamb; Hudson Sallee, Benton County, pork; Duran Barlow, Hamilton County, combo/specialty; and Malorie Ort, Hamilton County, youth.
Specialty winners included Hudson Salle of Benton County in the youth category and the Gilbert FFA of Story County in the team competition.
Sponsors for the contest include the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Farm Bureau Financial Services, GROWMARK, Inc., the Iowa Propane Gas Association, the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Iowa Beef Industry Council, the Iowa Turkey Federation, the Iowa Poultry Association, and the Iowa Sheep and Wool Promotion Board.