SERGEANT BLUFF, Iowa (KCAU) — By now, you may have heard about the young man from Siouxland crowned “Grocery Bagging Champion” at the Iowa State Fair, but you probably don’t know how he got there.
Nolan McGregor, 20, of Sergeant Bluff, is now qualified for the National Bagging Competition, but the path this grocery grabbing guru took to the title is as unexpected as his big win.
“Doing the same thing I’ve been doing for a year and a half. Work and school, nothing has really changed,” said McGregor.
Fame certainly hasn’t gone to the head of this year’s Iowa State Fair Best Bagging Champion.
But then, never had dreams of bagging supremacy when he arrived at Fareway Store #14 six years ago.
“I really wasn’t doing much and my mom said I needed to get a job. I wasn’t doing much and this was the only place hiring at 14, and so that’s how I ended up here,” said McGregor. “I turned 16 and they kept asking if I wanted to learn something new.”
Now 20, McGregor is a semester away from securing an AA Degree in Business Management from Western Iowa Tech Community College (WITCC).
“My goal is to get my own store some day as a manager,” he said.
And that’s where the rest of Nolan McGregor’s bagging greatness begins. To help meet that goal, he agreed to a summer internship at Fareway’s Corporate office in Boone, Iowa.
“Having smart people teach me everything they know,” he said.
Best bagging techniques weren’t included, but that didn’t mean interns weren’t expected to participate in prelims for this years Fair finale.
“They didn’t give us an option. So I wung it. Some people were coming up with strategies and practicing and I was like, ‘I really don’t want to do this. I’m just doing my turn and get it over with,’ and then they called my name and sending me to the state fair,” said McGregor.
“I thought about practicing a little bit, but just didn’t have the time,” he said. “I just went to the fair and did the same thing.”
“Somehow I got to the second round. Don’t know how,” he said. “I was a little more cautious the second round and actually cared.”
15 contestants, two rounds judged on time, weight distribution, style and technique.
“Obviously, don’t crush the bread and eggs,” he said. “I’ve got my bread on top and then I’ve got boxes to build walls and then heavy stuff on the bottom to help with distribution.”
Spoken like a champion, but there’s no time for a bagging big head. Coworkers make sure of that.
“Mostly it happens in the morning when were unloading a truck because the store is closed so, anything goes. I can handle the jabs. I’m going to give it right back to them,” said McGregor.
“When I walked in the door, I walked up to my boss and said, ‘Dont worry, the best bagger in Iowa showed up for work today.’ He came right back at me with, ‘Suprised your head fit through the door,'” said McGregor.
A trip to the National Bagging Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada awaits this quick handed helper and don’t look for his strategy to change.
“Maybe once I’m there, I’ll feel the pressure. Right now, I’m busy with school, back at the job doing regular things. Not thinking too much about it,” said McGregor.
Nolan doesn’t plan to defend his Iowa State Fair crown. Instead, he’s working to bag his next job title: Assistant Store Manager.
“Everybody needs groceries,” he said. “Since I want to go into Management, my Management Team has done a good job showing me everything they do every day. It keeps me wanting to stay engaged with Fareway.”
Along with the trophy, McGregor picked up a $500 prize with $10,000 up for grabs at the Las Vegas National Finals.
Nolan McGregor is the fourth Siouxlander to win the state prize.