For Floyd County’s annual entry in Governor’s Charity Steer Show, it isn’t always about the beef
By Lydia Gessner, Enterprise Media Inc.
When it comes to picking the exhibitor for the Governor’s Charity Steer Show, Matt Hoeft doesn’t look so much at the steer, but more at the one holding its halter.
“Honestly, the main [thing is] good kid, great family,” Hoeft said of the qualifications. “That’s what it really is.”
“A lot of people have different views of it, but this is my 17th year of doing this and helping get our county selected in this process and I’ve always looked at the kids and the family first, that put in a lot of hard work, and deserve this,” said Hoeft, who is the head of Friends of Floyd County and tasked with selecting the exhibitor and helping them fundraise.
“It’s a great experience for the kids and the family,” he said.
This year Nashua-Plainfield’s Luke Paplow applied and was selected to represent Floyd County at the event. But the goal is not a blue ribbon.
Once Paplow knew he would be the one exhibiting, he began fundraising.
“Every year in our county we try to raise more than the year before,” Paplow said.
Last year, Floyd County’s exhibitor raised $22,000 and Paplow made a goal to raise $25,000 this year, which he has already reached.
The money from the charity auction of the steer will go toward a cause near to Hoeft’s heart and family – the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Hoeft and his family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House while his son, who is now in high school, had surgery when he was 14 months old.
“A lot of people don’t realize how much that means to have some place to go home to at night. As hard as it is, sometimes you gotta be able to get out of the hospital and just unwind and get that off your mind for a little bit, even if it’s not very long,” he said.
“And then the other thing that’s nice about it,” Hoeft added, “everybody else that’s there is in the same situation.”
Hoeft can remember watching the steer show on Iowa Public Television as a kid with his dad and even saw the steers parade by him toward the show at the fair one year.
“I remember being able to stand in the street and watch that and being so, at that age you know I was like ‘this is really cool,’” Hoeft said. He said he first got involved with it in Floyd County when they first had someone nominated in 2006, and he thought it was a neat thing for area kids to be involved in.
“And then a few years later, when we were down there, that kind of hit home, like being involved in it, now I know what it’s for having spent time there,” Hoeft said.
He has been with the Friends of Floyd County and helping with the show for 17 years now, and each year the county has had someone in the show – quite a feat considering the Governor’s Charity Steer Show is “invitation-only” Hoeft explained.
“We kind of keep our spot because they know that we will represent well,” he said. “If I call in beginning of July down to Ames and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to take a pass this year,’ there would be a phone call made and there’d be somebody in that spot within 10 minutes, and we wouldn’t get it back.”
The 25 applicants are all picked a little differently. Some are chosen because they have the grand champion steer at the county fair. Others are chosen from corporations, like the Iowa Bankers Association which has been involved with the show almost since its beginning in 1983.
Corporations tend to pick someone in the state to represent them, not necessarily from one particular county, Hoeft explained. Then the governor picks her exhibitor based on the person who has the highest points at the end of the summer show circuit around the state.
Hoeft said some don’t push to fundraise, but he believes that is what’s most important about the show.
He explained that at the end of the show the steers are auctioned off to the highest bidder. The money Paplow raises is what they will use to “buy back” his steer, which is named Oak. If they get outbid, they will add their money to the winner’s bid so that the money still goes toward the Ronald McDonald House.
Hoeft said in 17 years they have only been outbid three times.
This year, Paplow has more than 150 sponsors from the area behind him. He said since Franklin county is the closest county with someone heading to the show, they have been able to fundraise in other areas like Nashua, Charles City, New Hampton, North Springs and Rockford.
The shirts that Paplow and his family will wear to the show on Saturday will have all the sponsors listed on the back, representing the community support behind the cause.
“Once you get to the actual show it’s just colored sections in the pavilion,” Paplow said, and added that his shirts will be red.
Paplow has been a member of the crowd before, supporting fellow showmen from the area. He has been showing beef cattle since he was 9 years old. He started showing Oak last year. The calf was born just 15 minutes away from the Paplow farm.
Along with showing cattle, Paplow, who will be a sophomore at Nashua-Plainfield, is involved in 4H, and then FFA, track, cross country, baseball and band.
His dad thinks this has been and will continue to be another valuable experience for him during high school.
“I think any little experience you can give kids before they get out of high school is pretty important and I think that’s going to be huge,” Tim Paplow said. “And then networking and meeting a lot of people in business and industry and what not and asking for donations, those are connections that you’ll never lose.”
Along with local connections, he is glad it will give Luke and their family a chance to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House.
“We get to actually go and do volunteer work at the Ronald McDonald House. We get to tour it and stuff,” Luke said. “We get to have a whole morning of doing that.”
This is the first year since COVID-19 struck that the exhibitors and their families will again be able to volunteer.
Afterwards, Luke and the other exhibitors will also get to have lunch with Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Each steer will have a celebrity showman, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig will be showing Oak for Floyd County, which Luke is excited about. Hoeft said that before Naig, former Secretary of Ag Bill Northey showed for the county exhibitors, for all except the first year, before he headed to Washington, D.C..
Hoeft grew up showing cattle himself and has spent many years as a beef producer and in the beef industry. He hopes that after 17 years in a row, the charity show is an experience that continues for area kids and their families.
“And it’s a thing that I’d like to carry on because I think it says a lot about our kids and I like seeing their involvement and the youth in animal agriculture,” Hoeft said. “As long as we have good support and great kids, it’s going to keep going.”
And for Luke Paplow, he is excited for his turn this week.
“You only get to exhibit in it once,” Luke said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”