Beef Jerky

A Historical Year for Iowa's Beef Industry at the Iowa State Fair

Casey Anderson | September 19, 2022

The Iowa State Fair is a top summer highlight for many Iowans, including staff at the Iowa Beef Industry Council. It serves as the most engaging opportunity we have to interact face-to-face with Iowans and potential beef consumers. We have two success stories to share with Iowa beef producers as a recap of state fair activities. 

John Lawrence, Vice President of Iowa State University Extension & Outreach, and Brady Werner, of Williamsburg, received Grand Champion Showman honors at the 40th Annual Iowa Governor's Charity Steer Show.

40 Years of Success with the Governor's Charity Steer Show

2022 marked the 40th Anniversary of the Governor’s Charity Steer Show and one of the cattle industry’s most successful philanthropic ventures. First initiated by Governor Terry Branstad in 1983, early organizers set out to team up with beef industry leaders to raise money for a charitable cause and spotlight Iowa’s high quality beef. The Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association have continued that effort with the support of every Iowa Governor since. The primary beneficiary of proceeds is the Ronald McDonald Houses of Iowa which provide lodging, meals and basic necessities for families traveling while their child receives care at one of Iowa’s children hospitals. A common stay ranges from ten days to two weeks but families can stay as long as needed, in some cases up to a year. Helping reduce the financial burden and providing basic amenities for families in a time of stress is key. 

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Sponsors, celebrities and youth exhibitors team up to form 25 teams all vying for top honors including Judge’s Choice, People’s Choice and Showmanship Honors. After the show each calf is auctioned off in a live auction format where all show proceeds are donated to the Ronald McDonald Houses of Iowa. This year’s auction bested 2021’s record breaking auction proceeds by $65,000 dollars, setting a new record at $440,000. Lifetime donations to the Ronald McDonald Houses now total more than $5 million dollars which equates to 330,000 night stays for guests of the Ronald McDonald Houses in Iowa. This is something everyone in the cattle industry can celebrate! 

Building Tomorrow's leaders through servant Leadership

Show organizers Tanner Lawton, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and Casey Anderson, Iowa Beef Industry Council, have focused on helping the kids learn what leadership inside and outside their community looks like. Kids and parents are invited to visit the Des Moines Ronald McDonald House prior to show day where house staff share their “to-do” list with the kids and parents. This includes updating mulch on outside landscaping, general cleaning in the main residence areas, light handiwork and decorating lunch bags for house guests. Casey shared, “We are so proud of these kids and what they’ve helped accomplish. We really see the kids flourish during our time together at the fair as they mature in their understanding of the event and what they’re truly helping to do.” For a full listing of this year’s teams and press release of the 2022 show, please visit

Cattlemen's Beef Quarters Legend Retires After 37 years

John Mortimer’s name is synonymous with the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters at the Iowa State Fair. John’s leadership has helped solidify the restaurant as a must stop destination for many fair goers. What started out as a one day event where producers served under a tent on a gravel lot with a mixed batch of equipment has evolved into serving thousands of customers every day of the fair.

Humble beginnings promoting beef

John has served as the general manager since its inception in 1985 and has guided the restaurant's growth over the last 38 fairs. Under John’s tutelage the restaurant runs like a well oiled machine; it’s powered by volunteers, most of which are county cattlemen from more than 60 counties in Iowa. When asked how they’ve changed, John had this to say, "Oh, we've added a lot, taken away a lot. You know, we had kabobs the first year and sirloin steaks, and we don't have any of those now.” This year’s menu featured 22 items including breakfast.  “Beef in Iowa is huge. And we're here to help promote it. And if we're not here, I don't know who would promote beef any better than we're doing it so we're here, that's our job," Mortimer said. He says it’s the people that’s kept him coming back all these years, it’s always been about the people. After 38 fairs he’s decided it’s time to retire and pass the torch to someone else. Fellow beef producers shared that they’re sad to see him go but they appreciate all he’s done to support Iowa’s beef industry.