Gus Krier missed his opportunity to show cattle back home in Kansas earlier this summer due to a broken leg and the devastation that wildfires wreaked on his family’s ranch. But last week Krier and his family got to enter the show ring at the Iowa State Fair.

The family, of Ashland, Kansas, showed a steer raised by Dalton Lawless of Albia in the Governor’s Charity Steer Show at the Iowa State Fair.

It wasn’t only an opportunity to show cattle again. It was a chance to thank Iowans for the support the family received when the wildfires scorched their ranches in March.

"On March 6, when the wildfires came through, we weren’t expecting anything like that," Katrina Krier said.

Katrina and Jeff Krier and their children, Gus and Kalee, raise cattle in Kansas and Oklahoma. About 9,000 acres burned between the two ranches. They suffered other losses as well.

"Most of the grassland burned. All of the hay burned. We lost 108 calves, 40 cows and about 800 bales of hay," Katrina said. "That’s our income, not just our property. That’s our way of making a living."

The 320 cows and calves that hadn’t perished in the wildfires had nothing to eat.

"There was nothing left on the ranch left to eat," she said.

Help arrives from Iowa

Then, donations of hay, fencing and other supplies started to roll into the area. Iowans showed up in Ashland to assist in rebuilding fences, bringing the supplies, equipment and manpower to do so.

Like other areas in the state, farmers and county Farm Bureaus near Monroe County pooled money and supplies together to send to Krier and others who needed the help after the wildfires devastated the area, said Bryan Reed, a cattle raiser in Monroe County.

When it was time for the Monroe County Cattlemen to select their showperson for the Governor’s Charity Steer Show, the group invited the Krier family to be part of the event.

"It was intended for us to recognize them and the challenges they have faced," Reed said.

The family showed the steer Aug. 12 in the Governor’s Charity Steer Show and was able to meet up with some of those who donated money, time and/or supplies to help them rebuild.

"People from all over the country reached out. That’s why we wanted to come out (to Iowa)," Katrina said. "There’s nothing like the farming and ranching community. We didn’t even know these people; all we share is the same way of making a living."

Katrina said the family was honored to show in the Governor’s Charity Steer Show, which benefits the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Iowa.

"We were honored to be a part of it. We’ve been to county fairs and to the state fair, but nothing like that to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House," Katrina said.

Though it will take a while for the family to fully recover from the losses of the wildfires earlier this year, they said they’re optimistic. Most of the fence is repaired now, the grass is coming back, and they’re slowly rebuilding their herd. Katrina said Iowans were a big help in that rebuilding process.

"Farmers and ranchers knew what we were going through and took time and resources and gave us hope," she said.