The pandemic year was full of challenges; however, it put an emphasis back on at-home dining and an opportunity for Iowans to enhance their meat cooking skills. With the return of the Iowa State Fair comes the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) Cookout Contest—a chance for outdoor cooking enthusiasts to show off their skills on the grand concourse on Tuesday, Aug. 17.

To compete at the state level in this ‘meaty’ competition, backyard chefs must win a county contest (entrants do not have to be a resident of the county contest they compete in). Entry categories include beef, lamb, pork, poultry, turkey, a “specialty” food (such as fish or goat), or a combo dish of two or more meats. There is also a team, showmanship and youth division.

Finalists get a chance to win cash, prizes and the honor of being named the Iowa Farm Bureau Cookout Contest champion. The youth winner will win a new gas grill donated by the Iowa Propane Gas Association, valued at more than $1,000.

“This contest attracts thousands of Iowans every year to the grand concourse and is a celebration of what Iowa farmers do best—produce sustainable, nutritious, real meat proteins for Iowa families to enjoy,” says Craig Hill, IFBF president and fourth generation farmer. “Visitors will enjoy seeing the creative ways our cookout contestants prepare their dishes, and we hope that inspires many to try new meat cuts, preparation methods or unique recipes to recreate the grilling experience at home.”

To find a qualifying contest and rules for entry, visit

Click here to view / download the 2023 Iowa Farm Bureau Cookout Contest Recipes.