Governor's Charity Steer Show

By Joseph L. Murphy, Iowa Soybean Association

Scissors, clippers, hair dryers and Aqua Net are usually reserved for beauty salons, but on the first Saturday of the Iowa State Fair, they are used to bring beauty to the best bovines in the cattle barn.

For 36 years the Governor's Charity Steer Show has been a staple of the Fair allowing youth to show their projects in the ring with local celebrities, state officials and the Governor. The event is part pomp and circumstance and part friendly competition, but it is all for a great cause.

This year $294,000 was raised for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Iowa during a record-setting auction. The money raised benefits the Ronald McDonald Houses of Des Moines, Iowa City and Sioux City. All the houses are located near hospitals and provide a “home away from home” for families of seriously ill children being treated at the hospitals. The Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association sponsors the annual steer show and auction, which was hosted by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

"I’m so proud of them (the youth showing at the event)," Reynolds said before the show. "They put a lot of work and dedication into raising these steers. Then they turn them over at auction to support an important cause like the Ronald McDonald House. It says a lot about the young people that are showing today."

Since its inception in 1983, the Governor’s Charity Steer Show has raised over $3.5 million for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Iowa.

This year's event featured 25 steers that were carefully cleaned, sculpted and manicured by the youth that raised them, family members and friends for their moment in the spotlight. Over 2,000 people filled the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion to watch as celebrities and youth paraded their steers around the ring while being judged in three categories: Judge’s Choice, People's Choice and Showmanship.

Tyler Pudenz, an incoming freshman at Gilbert High School, was lucky enough to show her steer, "Jet," with Reynolds.

"It's really exciting," she said about the opportunity. "We were at home when we got a call telling us that we were selected to be with the Governor."

She has been showing cattle in 4-H since she was in third grade. She said her favorite part of showing cattle was spending time with family and meeting others with the same interests.

"It’s a family event," Pudenz said while her father and others put the finishing touches on Jet before the show. "I’ve made a lot of friends over the years I’ve been showing."

Reynolds said the Governor's Charity Steer Show is one of the highlights for her during the Fair.

"I’m pretty competitive. I’ve won twice. So the Lt. Governor and I had to shake hands and part. This is a competition. So let the best steer win," Reynolds said with a laugh before entering the show ring.

Reynolds and Pudenz fell short of winning the show this year but both said they had a fun time.

"Chip," a steer sponsored by the Iowa County Beef Supporters, won the "Judge’s Choice" award this year. Tate Manahl was selected for the title of "People's Choice." Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig earned the Showmanship award.