It’s part technique, part attitude, but mostly loving your job. No self-checkout for customers at the Huxley Fareway store. Instead, there is a friendly person ready to bag your groceries, carry them to your car for you and wish you a great day. And, if you are lucky enough to have Bryce Young, an employee of the Huxley Fareway, you just won the lottery.
For the 19-year-old freezer department manager, you might just think he is pretty cool, and not from working in the freezers. Bryce is a qualifier in the 2018 Iowa State Fair Best Bagger competition to be held on Aug. 10.
“I graduated from Ballard High School last year,” tells Bryce. “I started working here at the new Huxley Fareway when I was 16 — I was a sophomore in high school when the store opened. I have worked myself into a full-time position and I am the frozen department manager.”
Does he like what he is doing?
“I love it, 100 percent,” he added. “I have the best boss in the world working for Dave Mikkelson. This is an absolutely great company. I love the business and I love helping people. It’s been fun to see how different the people in our community are and in general, they are all pretty incredible.”
When asked how he managed to qualify for the Iowa State Fair Best Bagger Competition, he explained it in these words:
“I had a co-worker who did it before and I thought that it might be fun to try myself. I had a general idea of how it’s done, meaning the bagging, because I bag groceries, too.”
The annual Iowa Best Bagger Contest, hosted by the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, is set for Friday, Aug. 10, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. The competition will begin at 1 p.m. on the stage of the Susan Knapp Amphitheater, located on Grand Avenue on the property of the state fair, just east of the grandstand and midway just past the Animal Learning Center on the north side of the street.
“Iowa’s Best Bagger contest is a popular event at the state fair,” said Iowa Grocery Industry Association Michelle Hurd. “Most of the contestants take bagging groceries to a whole new level of skill. It’s an amazing thing to watch, and it’s great to see how the crowd gets caught up in the excitement of the competition.”
This year’s event will spotlight 15 contestants in three preliminary heats, followed by a championship round of the top six baggers who score the most points in the preliminary heats.
According to Bryce, it’s a tricky competition.
“You have to be fast and you have to have a good technique,” he explained. “You have to tiptoe around weight distribution. That is why I started practicing in June.”
Make plans to come cheer Bryce on during this year’s competition. You will be entertained by the technique he uses to make sure he fills his reusable Fareway bag to be balanced — to avoid crushing loaves of bread and breaking eggs — and to be able to do it faster than the rest of the competition.
“I will be representing my store here in Huxley, as well as the Fareway family as a whole,” he said. “It’s pretty awesome. If I should win as the overall champion, I earn a trip for two to the National Best Bagger Competition in San Diego, which also holds a grand prize of $10,000.”