Some of you may remember me writing about “Albert the Steer” a couple months ago. I had mentioned he earned a spot showing at the Iowa State Fair with the Governor’s Charity Steer Show. Let me tell you a little about our experience.

The Governor’s Charity Steer Show is an event at the Iowa State Fair. It raises money for the Ronald McDonald Houses of Iowa and is correlated with the Governor at the time. Governor Terry Branstad originally started it in 1983. Usually, there are about 20-25 steers that are shown.

Pictured, left to right: Ronald McDonald, Julie Degner, Dennis Degner, "the buyers", Kristie VerMulm, Wes Degner, Kayla Degner with Bubba.


Pictured, left to right: "the buyer", Dennis Degner, Julie Degner, Wes Degner, Speed Herrig, Kayla Degner with Albert.


I had a very good summer with Albert, winning two county fairs. This allowed me to be selected for the Governor’s Charity Steer Show. I then had to find a “celebrity” from Iowa to show my steer at the fair. After some thinking, my family and I decided to ask Speed Herrig of Cookies BBQ Sauce out of Wall Lake, IA, which is near my hometown. We also had to find sponsors, who sponsored my calf and I at the event.

The Governor’s Charity Steer Show takes place during the state fair. The steers are put out on display for the first two days and then your celebrity shows them. The celebrity leads the calf and the owner follows while in the ring. There are 4 awards: Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Steer, Showmanship Award and People’s Choice.

After the steer show is over an auction is held. Someone purchases each calf and the money each steer is bought for is donated to the Ronald McDonald Houses of Iowa. This money helps families who have children that are ill in hospitals. Des Moines, Iowa City and Sioux City each have a house. The Ronald McDonald Houses provide families with a “home away from home”. These houses can be found in 58 countries across the world. More information about houses can be found at

The 2013 Governor’s Charity Steer Show raised $185,338 dollars for the Ronald McDonald Houses of Iowa. I participated in this in 2009 with Speed Herrig, as I wrote about previously. In 2010, Kristie VerMulm, a news anchor from Sioux City showed my calf.

Both experiences were amazing. It is remarkable to see so many people come together to raise money for a good cause. It was also meaningful to be able to spend time together with my family taking part in this event.

A tough part about this opportunity was saying goodbye to my “best steer friend” because someone else had purchased them. I had literally spent every day of my summer washing, feeding and caring for Albert and Bubba. I understand that this is a part of being a farm kid, cattle come and go from our farm all of the time. However, with my show cattle I definitely formed a special bond that I will treasure for years and years to come. When it came to say goodbye, there was not a dry eye in sight, especially from me. It is amazing how one calf, in one year, can make such an impact on a family’s life.


Kayla Degner was born and raised in rural Lytton, IA on a diversified grain and livestock family farm. She graduated from Rockwell City-Lytton in May 2012 and currently attends Iowa State University studying Agricultural Communications. Her past involved many agriculture venues. Kayla has a strong interest in advocating to the youth involved in agriculture.

Contact her at [email protected].