Iowa State Fair New Giant Pumpkin Champion

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  It’s been a rough year for farmers growing corn and soybeans in some areas of the state, but at this year's Iowa State Fair there were some farmers who were able to grow giant pumpkins.

Dan Boelman of Urbandale had the winning pumpkin, which weighed in at 758 pounds.

“First time winning first place, I’ve won third twice,” said Boelman. “With this terrible hot weather we’ve had this year, I'm so thrilled to have gotten one to the fair.”

In the sheep barn, some of the animals had blankets to keep their finely-combed wool from picking up straw from the pens.

“I think we still have to think about the production side of things,” said Todd Wise, who came from Colorado to judge the state fair sheep contests. “Muscle correctness of finish. We want to make sure the public has a good experience when they eat the lamb.”

At the Pavillion around 8:30 a.m., there were two dairy shows going on at the same time. The Ayshire Dairy Show and the Holsteins were also competing on opposite sides of the arena. This is where visitors could watch the handlers communicate with the animal, while the judge gets a good look to see which animals get ribbons.

“I just represent the Dairy Farmers of Iowa, and I help share their stories,” said Katelyn Goldsmith of Earlville, who has served as the Iowa Dairy Princess since last September. “I help hand out some ribbons, you might see me around the Food and Family Project helping out there, the Farm Bureau area.”

Also at Heritage Hall was the Youth Fiddling Contest. This has two classes, one for participants ages 12 and under, and the other for ages 12-17. Each contestant can play three songs, using no sheet music, and are told to make sure their instrument is tuned prior to coming on stage. In recent years, the contest was not too popular with young people.

"I think it is on the uprise, several years ago it was kind of a dying art,” said David Bellengate, who was a nine-time Grand Champion Fiddler. “Over the last several years ago we’ve had anywhere from 25-35 youth compete at the State Fair.”

“I went to a field trip to Reiman Music and I saw the fiddle, and it's like, I want to do that,” said contestant Sam Alexander, noting how fun he thinks it is to play the fiddle.

The Iowa State Fair will continue through August 20th.

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