Who Will Be Iowa’s Next Best Grocery Bagger?

The 2019 Iowa Best Bagger Ethan Dunn, Price Chopper; second Matthew Langel, Fareway Decorah. Bryce Young, Fareway Huxley finished third and Nick Hobt, Hy-Vee in Urbandale placed fourth.

Who Will Be Iowa’s Next Best Grocery Bagger?

Be sure to add the Iowa Best Bagger Contest to your State Fair To-Do List

DES MOINES, Iowa – Make plans to cheer on your favorite grocery bagger during the Iowa Best Bagger Competition at the Iowa State Fair, Friday, August 13. Always a crowd-pleaser, the fun, free event delivers plenty of 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, takes place annually 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 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, “It’s so much fun to watch but more than that the Best Bagger contest is important to the grocery industry because it helps build employee morale, improves bagging skills, develops customer appreciation and results in customer satisfaction. The contest also promotes grocery stores as a growing and exciting industry in which to work.”

This year’s event will spotlight 16 contestants in three preliminary heats followed by a championship round of the top six baggers who score the most points in the preliminary heats. While the scores are being tallied, fans will be treated to the Celebrity Bagger contest, featuring Ken Auge of Ken, Colleen and Kurt in the Morning, Star 102.5; Taylor Kanost, We Are Iowa Local 5 meteorologist; Brett McIntyre, WHO-HD Channel 13 meteorologist; Lou Sipolt, CW Iowa LIVE Morning Show; and 2019 Iowa Best Bagger Champion Ethan Dunn, Price Chopper.

Evaluated strictly on speed and who can have the most fun, the winner of the celebrity contest will win $250, sponsored by Fareway Stores Inc., to donate to a charity of his or her choice. 

2021 Best Bagger Contestants

  • Jack Wright, Hy-Vee Pleasant Hill
  • Ethan Petersen, Hy-Vee Altoona
  • Ben Miller, Hy-Vee Waukee
  • Alexes Davis, Hy-Vee Euclid
  • Carson Stanley, Hy-Vee Johnston
  • Michael Pallwitz, Hy-Vee Urbandale
  • Kenneth Gisler, Hy-Vee Valley West
  • Kristy Dang, Price Chopper Merle Hay
  • O’Shea Johnson, Price Chopper Beaver
  • Zach Anthofer, Fareway Merle Hay
  • Andrew Snook, Fareway Cedar Falls
  • Caden Koerber, Fareway Hampton
  • Carter Dighton, Fareway Boone
  • Harrison Dahm, Fareway Denison
  • Austin Davison, Fareway Maquoketa
  • Cameron Voss, Fareway Jefferson

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, held in Las Vegas on September 20, 2021, which holds a grand prize of $10,000.

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

Companies sponsoring the 2021 Iowa Best Bagger Contest include the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, Coca-Cola, Cylinder Express, Dupey Equipment, Frito-Lay and Iowa Food & Family Project. Prize sponsors include Hiland Dairy, Keurig Dr Pepper, 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.

The Iowa Grocery Industry Association is a nonprofit association that conducts programs in education and public affairs on behalf of its members, which are independent and chain grocery stores, convenience stores, food wholesalers servicing Iowa, food brokers and manufacturers. The Association's approximate 1,500 retail and supplier members are responsible for providing close to 100,000 jobs in Iowa.

Iowa State Fair IGIA Iowa Best Bagger Contest