Farmer hospitality shines on RAGBRAI

July 29, 2011

For the first time ever, I joined the Register’s Great Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) as it rolled through central Iowa last week.

Before the ride, my only experience with RAGBRAI was reading about it in the paper. But as a life-long Iowan, I figured I might as well see what all the hoopla was about.

And boy, am I glad I did! In just the 15 miles I rode along the RAGBRAI route, I saw the best of rural Iowa and agriculture on display.

I seriously was overwhelmed by the hospitality of the farmers along the way. I stopped at one scenic farm that offered free use of the restroom in the barn, a welcome alternative to the dreaded porta-potty lines.

A couple days earlier, I was invited to visit the Farmers Feed Us stop along the RAGBRAI route north of Kimballtown. Audubon County Farm Bureau member Greg Hansen opened up his farm to the more than 10,000 cyclists riding RAGBRAI this year.

Located on the top of a steep hill, his farm became a popular stop along the RAGBRAI route. Cyclists sought shade under the grain bins, and a few walked over to the feedlot to see the Hereford cattle.
Audubon and Shelby County Farm Bureau members greeted the RAGBRAI riders with free beef samples from the Iowa Beef Industry Council. They also handed out free ag-themed bike spoke cards designed by Iowa illustrator Brian Duffy.

Farmers from across the state joined together in the Farmers Feed Us effort, which aimed to educate RAGBRAI riders about Iowa agriculture and show farmers’ commitment to providing safe, nutritious and affordable food.

“It’s important to make sure consumers know what we do as farmers…,” said Cass County Farm Bureau member and livestock farmer Stacie Euken. “RAGBRAI is such a diverse crowd, and with so many different backgrounds, we can reach a lot of people at one time.”

Sue Creager, a RAGBRAI rider from Michigan, said she appreciated the chance to shake hands with a farmer. “It’s good to put a face behind (your food), because all consumers see is a package in the store,” Creager said.

Once again, Iowa farmers made a positive, lasting impression on the RAGBRAI riders. And after enjoying all hospitality and food (pork chops-on-a-stick!), I can’t wait to ride RAGBRAI again.

Written by Teresa Bjork
Teresa is a features Writer for the Iowa Farm Bureau.

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Get out and enjoy Iowa’s county fairs!

July 22, 2011

Franklin County Fair

It’s mid-summer. That means it’s high season for county fairs across Iowa. So consider yourself lucky that you’re never more than a tank of gas away from one of our state’s county fairs.

From the Missouri River to the Mississippi River, Iowa county fairs showcase the best of our state. There are great fairs in Franklin County, in Mahaska County, in Plymouth County, in Madison County and the list goes on and on.

At the fair you’ll see young people showing the cattle, hogs, sheep and all types of livestock they have carefully tended for months with dreams of making it to the big show: The Iowa State Fair. You can check out the cakes and quilts that carry on the state’s grand traditions. There are 4-H displays, talent competitions, entertainment and, oh, did I mention the food?

There’s nothing like pulling up a chair at one of the community sponsored food stands, visiting with a stranger, and sampling a piece of pie, homemade ice cream or a great pork sandwich or a turkey leg.
So take a minute to look through these photos. Then I encourage you to go to http://www.iowafairs.com/ and find some fun of your own.
County fairs are the jewels of Iowa’s summer!

For more fun fair photos you can visit: http://goo.gl/al21m

Written by Joe Murphy
Joe is a photographer and writer for Iowa Farm Bureau.

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