DES MOINES, IA (July 11, 2019) — Six Iowa farm families will be recognized as recipients of the 2019 Way We Live Award at the Iowa State Fair. Entry-form nominations included a description of how living on a farm and choosing the farming occupation shaped the nominee's farm family life. These families are examples of farm values derived from hard work and love for farming.
The Way We Live Award is sponsored by Pioneer, with media sponsors Iowa Farmer Today and the WHO Big Show. The award, in its 11th year of recognizing outstanding farm families, has recognized 63 outstanding Iowa farm families so far. Each award winning family receives a prize package of $250, complimentary admission tickets, free parking, various coupons, and recognition in the Paul R Knapp Animal Learning Center during the Fair, along with an overnight hotel stay at the Holiday Inn Downtown Mercy Campus.
Rick and Kathy Demmer Family, Peosta
Friday, August 9 at 11:30AM — Animal Learning Center Stage
The Rick and Kathy Demmer family owns Le-O-La Holsteins, a dairy farm whose focus is to produce safe and wholesome products for the general public. The farm was started by Leo and Stella, Rick's parents. In 1991, Rick and Kathy transitioned into ownership of Le-O-La Holsteins, where they built onto the original barn and doubled their herd-size over the next few years. Currently, they milk eighty-three registered Holsteins and two Jersey cows with around 150 young stock on the farm. The Demmers focus on breeding high-quality cattle that are backed by a deep pedigree to make for a more-sustainable and profitable animal. The family members have served in agriculture leadership roles in their community and Iowa and welcome visitors to their farm to learn about agriculture and the dairy industry. The Demmer children and family members were active in 4-H and Iowa Junior Holstein and have participated in dairy quiz-bowl and judging. The Demmer family believes that raising children on a farm teaches them valuable life-skills that results in a good work-ethic and will lead to success later in life. Children learn to respect their farm family's livelihood, knowing that when they sit with their family at meal time, they were able to produce the food on the table.
Todd and Wendy Hagen Family, Homestead
Saturday, August 10 at 11:30AM — Animal Learning Center Stage
The Hagen family has been farming in the Homestead area for around 120 years. The crops grown on the Hagen family farm include corn, soybeans, and hay, as well as a cow and calf operation. Todd began farming in 1983, and his son Taylor followed in turn in 2018. Taylor is the fifth generation to farm in the Hagen family. Todd oversees the day-to-day management of the farm while Wendy manages the bookkeeping, farm, and family organization, and Taylor takes care of the crops, cattle, and maintenance and repair of farm equipment. Family farming traditions include participating and attending the county fair and having meals in the field during the fall harvest. Sons Taylor and Tanner were both active in 4-H showing calves and doing agricultural projects. The Hagens strive to be agriculture ambassadors by being good stewards of the land and good herdsmen of the farm operation. Farming has had an impact on the Hagen family life, as they feel blessed to be surrounded by family everyday while working together on the family farm.
Moretz Family Farms, Kensett
Sunday, August 11 at 11:30AM — Animal Learning Center Stage
The Moretz Family Farms consists of row crops, including corn, soybeans, and hay, and has a large focus on livestock with cow-calf and farrow-to-finish hog-operations. In 1969, Arthur and Sharon purchased the current home farm. All members of the Moretz family work together to achieve a common goal, as everything they do as a family revolves around the farming operation. Three generations of Moretzes — Arthur, Dean and Nathan — run the day-to-day operations of the farm by taking care of the cattle, repairs, and crop-work. Nathan and his wife Melissa handle the responsibilities of the wean-to-finish pigs. Nathan's brothers, Mitchell and Timen, help in the spring and fall with field work and harvest. Dean's wife Tanna runs the grain cart in the fall and helps move equipment in the spring. Sharon used to run the combine every fall. Other family members help by providing meals during the busy times of the year. Several members of the family serve on various agriculture-related boards and other community organizations.
Joel Sickelka Farm, Sutherland
Tuesday, August 13 at 11:30AM — Animal Learning Center Stage
On their family farm in Sutherland, the Joel Sickelka family raises cow-calf pairs and feed beef cattle, as well as soybeans, corn, and hay. All family members are involved in the farm operation. Joel works alongside family members to do the planting and harvesting, and his wife and children have helped by spending hours baling hay, fixing fences, picking up rocks, and sorting cattle. The Sickelka children were all involved in 4-H and found the O'Brien County Fair to be a special place because of the family atmosphere. The family farm operation has been influential in their lives, as they have learned how to take care of others through the lessons of compassion, responsibility, and humility. Growing up on a farm has taught the family the value of a strong work ethic and selflessness.
M&C Anderson Pullets, Sioux Rapids
Wednesday, August 14 at 11:30AM — Animal Learning Center Stage
In 1968, Colleen "Coke" Anderson and her husband purchased a 270-acre farm in Clay County. Initially raising sheep and having a corn/soybean/alfalfa rotation, the farm has centered their focus on raising pullets. The farm currently raises between four and five million pullets annually. Coke is a member of the Iowa Poultry Association and an environmental committee member of United Egg Producer, as well as being a former chairman of the board of the American Egg Board and having served on the Iowa Egg Council. Coke believes that "a job worth doing is worth doing well." On the farm, there are a number of different jobs, and each one is important to the whole enterprise. Over the past 51 years, Coke has had many family members and employees who have helped her achieve more success than she could have ever envisioned. One of her greatest joys has been seeing them move on to greater responsibilities and successes and knowing she had a part in those accomplishments.
Cummings Family Farms, Pleasantville
Saturday, August 17 at 11:30AM — Animal Learning Center Stage
The Cummings Family Farms have changed since their beginnings in 1955 by the head of the family, James. In 1955, James returned home from the Air Force during the Korean War and moved his family to establish roots in rural Marion County. There, he raised hogs, dairy cattle, sheep, and beef cattle, teaching his children the value of growing up on a farm, and sparking a family tradition that continues today. Today, James' sons Don and Larry have transitioned their focus to row crops and cattle. Don's son Connor has joined the operation to develop a sizable cow-calf, row crop, and forage operation. Other business endeavors include fencing, tiling, and auctioneering. The Cummings family believes in the future of the agriculture industry and focuses on working with the youth in the community to teach them the importance of farming and agriculture in society. Don, Larry and Connor Cummings have served as swine superintendents for over 30 years at the Marion County Fair. Carly Cummings is the treasurer for the Pleasantville FFA Alumni chapter, and Connor's wife, Haley, is a preschool teacher who uses the farm to educate her students on the importance of farmers.
For more information on past award winners or the current 2019 Way We Live Award winning families, visit http://www.iowastatefair.org/participate/way-we-live-award/.
Frequently ranked as one of the top events in the country, the Iowa State Fair is the single-largest event in the state of Iowa and one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the country. Annually attracting more than a million people from all over the world, the Iowa State Fair located at East 30th and East University, just 10 minutes from downtown Des Moines is Iowa's greatest celebration with a salute to the best in agriculture, industry, entertainment and achievement. "Nothing Compares" to Iowa State Fair Favorites, August 8-18, 2019. For more information, visit www.iowastatefair.org.