After the wood fired flames extinguished along the Iowa State Fair’s Grand Concourse, Steve Heaberlin of Warren County was crowned the 2022 Iowa Farm Bureau ‘Cookout Champion’ of the 58th annual cookout contest at the Iowa State Fair. Heaberlin’s coffee-rubbed smoked beef ribs were voted as the championship-winning dish among dozens of qualifiers from around the state at the Farm Bureau Day tradition.  

Heaberlin’s meaty fall-off-the-bone ribs were favored by the judges over a wide array of entries from some of the state’s best backyard chefs during the decades long Iowa State Fair tradition. In addition to being crowned the overall Farm Bureau Cookout Champion, Heaberlin also won first place in the beef division. 

Competitors in the Iowa Farm Bureau Cookout Contest earned entry 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.  Heaberlin qualified winning the beef division during the Warren County Farm Bureau Cookout Contest, one of more than a dozen local cookout contests held earlier this summer.     

The delicately sliced slices of Heaberlin’s beef ribs beat out entries like dry rubbed prime rib, stuffed pork loin, baby back pork ribs, smoked chicken and turkey dishes. Other exotic entries like elk burgers, lamb fajitas, pheasant kabobs, smoked pork belly tacos and various bacon wrapped dishes caught the judges’ eyes and impressed fairgoers eager for samples and recipe cards from the participants. 

“The Farm Bureau Cookout Contest has become a staple of the state fair and is a great way to showcase the diversity of Iowa livestock production and Iowa’s best backyard cooks,” said Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) President Brent Johnson. "The dedication and passion from today’s contestants reflect the virtues of Iowa farmers committed to responsible livestock care, and the cookout contest is a great tradition celebrating Iowans’ affinity for meat and the farmers who raise it.”  

Heaberlin’s championship winning beef ribs topped several other beef entries in route to being selected as the contest’s overall winner. He received $300, the champion’s crown and a trophy as the 2022 Iowa Farm Bureau Cookout Contest Champion. Heaberlin also won $300 for winning the beef division. 

Other first place winners, county contest represented and their categories were: Michelle Bruce, Benton County, lamb; Joe Renze, Hardin County, pork; Sean Van Cannon, Boone County, poultry; Robert Pepin Adair County, turkey and Scott Degeneffe, Boone County, combo/specialty. All category winners received a $300 prize. 

Second place finishers, county contest represented and their categories were: Gary Klahn, Clinton County, beef; Shannon Glaser, Adair County, lamb; Rex Crosser, Hardin County, pork; Theresa Glaser, Adair County, poultry; Judy Hanson, Adair County, turkey and Kim Pepin, Adair County, combo/specialty.  All second-place division winners received $150.

Winners in special categories included youth first place, Kelsey Kruse of Lee County and the team winners, Team Parker of Boone County. Kruse received a gas grill valued at $1,000 and $300, courtesy of the Iowa Propane Gas Association. The team winners, the Parker Family of Boone, received $300. Scott Degeneffe and his assistants won the praises of the judges for their flair behind the grill and engagement with fairgoers and received the $200 showmanship prize.  

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 Heaberlin’s championship-winning ‘OMG Beef Ribs’ recipe and marinade and view other recipes from the 2022 Cookout Contest.