Andy Skahill of Bettendorf impressed the judges and stood out among the 56 other contestants in route to claiming the coveted championship crown and the title of 2018 Iowa Farm Bureau ‘Cookout Champion.’  Skahill’s winning poultry recipe, “Southern Finger Stickin’ Chicken,” placed first in the poultry category of the contest and was voted as the championship dish, topping some of the state’s best backyard chefs during the annual contest held along the Grand Concourse at the Iowa State Fair. 

Competitors in the Iowa Farm Bureau Cookout Contest first had to qualify by smoking, grilling, or barbecuing their way to victory in a county Farm Bureau contest in one of eight categories: Beef, Combo/Specialty, Lamb, Pork, Poultry, Turkey, Team, or Youth.  Skahill qualified by winning the poultry division during the Clinton County Farm Bureau Cookout Contest held earlier this summer.     

The Iowa Farm Bureau-sponsored contest always features a diverse array of entries and cooking styles.  Skahill’s winning slow-smoked sweet BBQ chicken thighs beat out traditional entries including prime rib, burgers, pork loin and ribs, and smoked and grilled chicken and turkey dishes, and some more exotic entries like stuffed lamb sliders, pineapple pork tenderloin and ‘pork jello,’ a slow-smoked dish featuring BBQ pork belly burnt ends.

“The annual Farm Bureau Cookout Contest on the Grand Concourse is a great way to showcase the diversity of Iowa livestock production and celebrate some of Iowa’s best backyard cooks,” says Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) President Craig Hill.  “The Farm Bureau Day Cookout Contest provides a unique opportunity for consumers to witness the preparation of some amazing dishes and sample many great Iowa-raised meats including beef, pork, poultry, and lamb while celebrating the diversity and importance of Iowa agriculture.”  

Skahill’s championship winning chicken thighs topped the other poultry entries before being selected as the contest’s overall winner.  He received $200, the champion’s crown, and a permanent trophy as the 2018 Iowa Farm Bureau Cookout Contest Champion.

Other first place winners, county contest represented, and their categories were: Thyron Mathews from Fayette County, beef; Theresa Glaser from Adair County, lamb; Tory Ketelsen from Clinton County, pork; Jeff Whitson from Grundy County, turkey; Scott Degeneffe from Boone County, combo/specialty.  All category winners won $150. 

Second place finishers, county contest represented, and their categories were: Keith Carris from Boone County, beef; Shelana Laing from Boone County, lamb; Sean Van Cannon from Boone County, pork; Kolby Struchen from Sac County, poultry; Bob Pepin from Adair County, turkey; Dusty Wilson from Lee County, combo/specialty.  All second place category winners won $100.

Winners in special categories were youth first place – Ian Sallee from Benton County and youth second place – Cadin Pecinovsky from Jasper County; showmanship – Thyron Mathews from Fayette County; and team winner – Kate Rose, Josh Yoder, and Tim Moore.  Sallee received a gas grill valued at $1,000 and $150, and Pecinovsky received $100.  Youth prizes were donated by the Iowa Propane Gas Association.  Mathews received $150, and the team winners received $200.       

Prize sponsors for the Farm Bureau Cookout Contest include: Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Farm Bureau Financial Services, GROWMARK, Inc., Iowa Propane Gas Association, Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Iowa Beef Industry Council, the Iowa Turkey Federation, Iowa Poultry Association, and the Iowa Sheep and Wool Promotion Board.

Visit ( for Skahill’s winning entry and other recipes from the 2018 Cookout Contest.