He’s finished in second and fourth places in the past, and this year Polk City Fareway employee Trevor Erb, a native of Boone, is determined to get the top prize in the 2017 Best Bagger Competition at the Iowa State Fair tomorrow, Aug. 11.

“I’m determined to get the top prize this year, which is $500 and a trip to Vegas to compete to be the best bagger in the nation,” the 20-year-old Erb said.

His former manager, Wayne Lamoureux, who was at Boone when Erb started his Fareway career, said if anyone can win it, Trevor can. “He’s very capable,” Lamoureux said.

Erb has worked for Fareway Stores for seven years total. “I spent just over five years in the Boone store and they offered me full-time when I was 17, just out of high school.” He’s now in the Polk City store, a newer store for the company, and he lives in nearby Ankeny.

When it comes to bagging, this is his third year in the competition, and he hopes that is the charm. He lets us know that there’s more to being the best bagger than one might think.

There are four categories: speed, proper sacking, weight of bags and style.

“My personal favorite is the speed category. You have 57 seconds to sack roughly 30 various items,” Erb said.

Making sure all the items are properly sacked, he said, involves making sure that crushable items are on top, no glass jars are touching in the sack and that boxes go to the sides of the bag.

In the competition, each bagger has three bags. The weight category is judged on how well the bagger distributed the weight of items. “You have to be as close to the same weight (in each bag) as possible,” he said.

Style, the final component, really has most to do with having your uniform on properly and having a friendly smile as you go about your work, he explained.

“I spent two years bagging up front and only bagging,” Erb said, noting that he’s had a lot of experience. He also watched the bagging contests when he was a kid. “I knew someday I could do this.”

Fareway always has a contest of its own before the state fair to see who will qualify to go from the stores. Of the 30 who came to try out for the honor, Erb placed first this year, and earned his right to compete at the state level.

Winning aside, Erb loves going to the state fair bagging competition, because it’s fun, he said, to see other baggers who he has seen previously. “We can pick up a conversation like it was just yesterday,” he said.

And he loves his work at Fareway. “You meet so many customers and so many employees. There is never a dull moment and always something going on. I just like staying busy.”

It’s no surprise that Erb plans to make a career in the Fareway company. He’s working his way up in the company’s program with the goal of someday running a store.

He will have lots of family in Des Moines this week cheering him on in the fair competition. His mom, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins and mulitiple friends plan to attend. “I think they like this contest more than I do,” he said of his fans.

Win or lose, it’s going to be fun. “It’s always a fun time. I enjoy talking to the different stores’ employees who are competing and getting to see everyone for such a fun week at the fair,” he said.