Hy-Vee’s Dallas Lehman Wins Iowa’s Best Bagger Title

Lehman finishes first at the Iowa Grocery Industry Association’s 28th annual grocery bagging competition

DES MOINES, Iowa – In a contest designed to crown the best grocery bagger in the state, Dallas Lehman, who works for Hy-Vee in Johnston, came out on top in the Iowa Best Bagger contest on Friday, August 14, at the Iowa State Fair. Lehman claimed the Iowa’s Best Bagger title, a trophy, a $500 cash prize and a trip for two to Las Vegas to compete in the National Best Bagger Contest.

“All of the finalists were fast, but what clinched the competition for Dallas was the weight distribution among the grocery bags,” said Michelle Hurd, president of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, which hosts the event annually at the Iowa State Fair. “His bags were nearly equal in weight.”

“Bagging groceries is an important point of contact with customers and can be a factor in whether a customer returns to the store,” she added.

Photo: Left to right: Oscar Rivas, Fareway, Boone, receives fourth place; Trevor Erb of Fareway, Boone, finishes second; Dallas Lehman of Hy-Vee, Johnston, wins the 2015 Iowa Best Bagger Competition and Chris Kirsch of Fareway, Storm Lake, finished third.

Placing second in the Iowa Best Bagger competition was Trevor Erb, who works at the Fareway in Boone, Iowa, and received $250. Chris Kirsch, who works at Fareway in Storm Lake, Iowa, placed third and received $150. Oscar Rivas, who works at Fareway in Boone, Iowa, finished in fourth place and received $100.

Lehman, 25, who graduated from Winterset, Iowa, and currently lives in West Des Moines, will go on to represent Iowa at the 2016 National Grocers Association Best Bagger Contest in Las Vegas in February, and has a chance to win an additional $10,000. With five years of grocery bagging experience, Lehman will attempt to bring home a seventh national title for Iowa and the first since 2000. The five previous national winners from Iowa (one of whom won twice) were Fareway employees. Lehman would be the first from Hy-Vee.

“It felt amazing to win big for me but it also felt great to win for the company as a whole and to fulfill our goal of sending a Hy-Vee bagger to the national contest,” Lehman said about winning. “I’m excited. I’ve never been to Vegas before. And I’m looking forward to representing Iowa and hopefully bringing home a seventh title for our state.”

Lehman will be making the trip to Las Vegas with Olivia, his fiancé, who will be his wife by the time the national competition takes place. The couple is planning to be married in September.

Before making it to the Iowa Best Bagger competition, Lehman competed against 40 other Hy-Vee baggers in Hy-Vee’s internal qualifying competition. The top eight finishers qualified to compete for Hy-Vee at the State Fair.

Lehman began his career in the grocery industry when he was 20, working as a bagger in the West Des Moines store along Mills Civic Parkway. He has worked at the Johnston store for the past 4-1/2 years.

A total of 21 individuals took part in the 2015 Best Bagger event, which celebrated its 28th year at the Iowa State Fair. Contestants bagged identical grocery orders consisting of approximately 40 commonly purchased items into three reusable grocery bags. They were scored and ranked primarily on speed and weight distribution among bags, but proper item arrangement is also taken into account.

Photo: Front row (left to right): Ryan Fox and Jenni Stoberl, West Street Market, Manning; Kirsty Flores, North Scott Foods, Eldridge; Sierra Chelsvig, Cash Saver, Des Moines; Addison Radcliffe, Price Chopper, Des Moines; Savannah Boyle, Price Chopper, Johnston; Almedin Harbas, Price Chopper, Des Moines and Jonathon Caracci, Price Chopper, Des Moines. Middle Row (left to right): Kierian Moss, Hy-Vee, Ankeny; Dallas Lehman, Hy-Vee, Johnston; Clint Draheim, Hy-Vee, Urbandale; Bradley Martin, Hy-Vee, Centerville; Dwayne Campbell, Hy-Vee, Des Moines and James Armstrong, Hy-Vee, West Des Moines. Back row (left to right): Oscar Rivas, Brady Wilson, Dante McWilson and Ben O’Neal, Fareway, Boone; Lucas Markey, Fareway, Nevada; Trevor Erb, Fareway, Boone and Chris Kirsch, Fareway, Storm Lake.

The top six finishers winnowed from four preliminary heats competed in the final round.

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

Colleen Kelly, Big Ken and Colleen in the Morning (Star 102.5); Eddie Hatfield, Hatfield & McCoy Morning Show (92.5 Nash ICON); Jon Schaeffer, Local 5 Sports Director; Elizabeth Glover, 2014 Iowa State Fair Queen and Tyler Miller, 2014 Iowa Best Bagger Winner (Hy-Vee, West Des Moines) competed in the Celebrity Best Bagger competition this year. Kelly emerged victorious and will donate the $250 prize to her chosen charity, Animal Lifeline. The donation was made possible by Fareway Stores Inc.

Companies sponsoring the 2015 Iowa Best Bagger Contest include the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, Coca-Cola and Midwest Packaging Inc., Pan Pacific and Kellogg Company. Prize sponsors include Hiland Dairy, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Cookies Food Products and Pepsi Beverages Company. Fareway Stores Inc. provided the celebrity charity donation. All non-perishable food items used in the competition were donated to the Food Bank of Iowa in Des Moines.