2008 Iowa State Fair Gets A Good Start

Variety and importance of agriculture is showcased at the event Aug. 7 through 17 in Des Moines.

The variety and importance of agriculture is showcased each August at the Iowa State Fair. The 2008 Iowa State Fair got underway with great weather on August 7, as the event features many things for fair goers to see and do. That includes agriculture, livestock and numerous farm-related exhibits. The fair runs Aug. 7 through August 17 at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

New record set in big boar contest

On opening day of the 2008 event, a Yorkshire boar named Freight Train set an Iowa State Fair record when he tipped the scales at 1,259 pounds in the Big Boar contest. Freight train "ran over" the previous record of 1,246 pounds which was set in 1993. The previous record holder was a boar named Mr. Ribb, shown in 1993 by Larry Brandt and sons of Ralston.

Freight Train is owned by the Cormaney brothers—Mike, John and Jeff—of Webster City. They purchased the boar two years ago from Kay Christian of Woodward, who raises purebred hogs.

The Cormaney brothers also showed last year's winning Big Boar, which weighed 1,203 pounds. Champions are not allowed to defend their crown so there are new winners each year. Freight Train got his name because you can set a watch by his eating habits. He eats lots of corn and soybean meal, says Jeff Cormaney. The Cormaney brothers have a farrow-to-nursery hog operation.

Second place in the Big Boar competition for 2008 went to a 1,212 pound boar named Up Dog, who was shown by Jason Gienger and Craig Sash of G&S Farms at Gladbrook. The big boar contest was first held at the State Fair in 1975 and this year's big boar winners can be seen in the Swine Barn at the State Fair.

For sheep, the 2008 Big Ram competition went to a 432 pound animal named Vette, which is short for Corvette, says his owner, Daryl Mickelson of Perry. Vette is a 2-year old Hampshire and was purchased from Bailey Family Hampshires in Bouton. This is the sixth time Mickelson has shown the winning ram at the fair. The big ram contest has been held at the Fair since 1990. Vette eats 8 pounds of corn, soybean hulls and alfalfa every day, and is on display in the Sheep Barn at the 2008 Iowa State Fair.

In this year's Super Bull competition, a bull named Tiny was the winner. Weighing in at 3,012 pounds, the Charolais bull belongs to Joe Holub of What Cheer. The wining bull is on display in the cattle barn at the State Fair.

Come see snow at 2008 Iowa State Fair

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has exhibits in the Ag Building and also in the Varied Industry Building to showcase the variety and importance of agriculture in Iowa.

The Iowa State Fair is known for its hot, humid summer days, but Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey invites Iowans to come see it snow at the IDALS booth across from the butter cow in the Agriculture Building during this year's fair. Snowfall is part of the Department's efforts to highlight the many specialty crop farmers in Iowa, including Christmas tree growers.

"The Iowa State Fair is a great showcase of Iowa agriculture and the wonderful people that make our state so productive," says Northey. "Iowa is the national leader in corn, soybean, eggs and pork, but we also have many farmers that grow a wide variety of products, including Christmas trees."

Iowa ag products highlighted each day

Each day of the fair, the state ag department will be highlighting specialty crops such as fruits and vegetables, apiaries, Christmas trees and grapes. Each day of the fair, the department will be highlighting specialty crops with a featured specialty crop souvenir. A new website that focuses on invasive insects pests of our woodlands will also be unveiled.

IDALS has booths in both the Agriculture and Varied Industries buildings that will educate Iowans about the department and also the important role of agriculture in the state.

Another highlight will be cooking demonstrations on the Agriculture Building stage on Saturday, Aug. 9 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and on Wednesday, Aug. 13 from noon to 2:00 p.m. Chef Joe Godfroy will demonstrate and provide samples of easy to prepare recipes using fresh Iowa produce.

Century Farms to be recognized Aug. 12

On Friday, Aug. 15 the IDALS will be recognizing the winners of the 2008-2009 From the Farm to You Calendar drawing contest in the Agriculture Building. Kids from across the state submitted pictures for the calendar.

Century Farms, those that have been in the same family for 100 years, and Heritage Farms, which have been owned by the same family for 150 years, will also be recognized at the State Fair again this year. The program will be on Tuesday, Aug. 12 for Century Farms and Thursday, Aug. 14 for Heritage farms and is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau.

"This is a very exciting time in Iowa agriculture and the State Fair is a great opportunity to highlight the many faces and types of farming that take place in our state," Northey says. "I hope Iowans take the time to stop by our booths and learn a bit more about all the department and see it snow!"

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