Competition FAQ

Iowa Farm Bureau Cookout Contest

Iowa Farm Bureau Cookout Contest FAQ:

What is the Tuesday, August 13, 2024 event timeline?

1 a.m.—Contestants are allowed to enter the state fairgrounds and begin set up.
7 a.m.—All contestants must be set up on the Grand Concourse.
8 am.—Registration opens.
9:30 a.m.—Judging begins.
11:00 a.m.—Judging ends and scores are tabulated.
11:45 a.m.—Winners are announced.
1 p.m.—Contestants must be off the Grand Concourse.

Do I need to pay to enter the Iowa State Fairgrounds? Iowa Farm Bureau will provide contestants with two Iowa State Fair tickets and one parking pass. Additional tickets for family members/friends are at your expense.

What time can I arrive? You may arrive as early as 1 a.m. to set up and begin cooking. Please be in place with all vehicles off the Grand Concourse by 7 a.m.

What gate do I need to use? Contestants will be provided parking permits and must use Gate 8 on Dean Avenue from 1-7 a.m. You will also be provided with a permit to park outside Gate 13 in the northwest corner of the fairgrounds

How large of a space do I have to cook in? Each contestant is given a 12 x 12 space. All items for the competition, including tents, cooking equipment, tables, etc. should fit within this space.

What type of dish is acceptable to prepare? Past contestants have done everything from smoke a whole turkey or rack of pork ribs to making bacon wrapped meatballs or a turkey taco. Half of the scorecard awards points on flavor and cooking execution. While the remaining half is on product knowledge, appearance and originality. Consider how your dish may measure up. View the scorecard here.

If I’m not cooking in the pork category, can I still use bacon in my preparation? Contestants are allowed to bacon wrap their items, however mixing two different meats is not allowed. For example, you may do a bacon-wrapped steak, but you may not mix bacon into a beef burger. They must be able to be distinguishable from one another.

What do I need to bring, and what is provided by Farm Bureau? Contestants are responsible for 100% of what they need, including a tent, folding tables, chairs, your grill/smoker, meat and ingredients, cooking tools, serving trays or plates, silverware, toothpicks, napkins, paper towels, etc. For those who need electricity, Iowa Farm Bureau will provide it (however, please bring an extension cord).

There is an hour and a half judging period, how can I make sure I’m serving judges at the best time according to my dish? Iowa Farm Bureau staff will ask contestants prior to judging time when their dish will be ready. A timeline within each category will be created that aligns as closely as possible with “done” times given by contestants. Please be patient if there is a delay.

What is Showmanship? How can I compete? Showmanship reflects personal flair, plating, place settings, decorations, contestant knowledge and includes a side dish. This category is an add-on to individual meat categories. Contestants who win their county Cookout Contest or sign up online to backfill competition slots must indicate if they would like to compete in Showmanship. Because of the high demand to compete in this category with limited judging time, 12 contestants will be selected via a lottery system and notified of their eligibility. View the showmanship scorecard here.

Am I expected to give fairgoers samples as they visit the event? No, this is not an expectation of the competition. You are welcome to serve samples if you have extra food; however, don’t forget to hold a portion back in the event the Grand Champion judge circles back to your tent.