Not your average pageant: Ag students compete in ‘Mr. CALS’ fundraiser

Andrew Luzum, junior in agricultural business, models his suit during the evening wear portion of the Mr. CALS pageant.

Bailey Mcgrath

Hooting and hollering students filled the Kildee Pavilion, cheering on male students as they strutted across a stage.

Block and Bridle stole the show Thursday night at the first-ever Mr. CALS Competition hosted by professional agriculture sorority Sigma Alpha.

Male students from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences competed to be called the first ever “Mr. CALS,” while raising money for Central Iowa Shelter Services.

Austin Knupp, sophomore in agricultural business, was named Mr. CALS of 2013. Fellow Block and Bridle club member Brandon Messer, senior in agricultural business, was named CALS 2013 Mr. Congeniality.

“We are both from Block and Bridle so we came and represented the club well,” Knupp said.

Knupp and Messer were each awarded with a green t-shirt and mug decorated with their new titles.

“I’m just looking forward to reigning over CALS for the next year,” Messer said. “I’m just looking forward to all the events we get to go to and just kind of represent our club and represent what agriculture is all about.”

24 contestants participated in three different events including formal wear, calendar boys and dress your major. Five judges, including three from the CALS and two Alpha Sigma advisors, scored the contenders on things like personality and congeniality, which counted for 60 percent of their score. The other 40 percent came from the audience putting money in contestants’ individual boxes.

Judges chose Mr. Congeniality based on personality scores.

The evening began with the evening wear category, where contestants dressed in suits and ties and were escorted by a member of Sigma Alpha.

The theme changed for the calendar boys event when contestants came out dressed for a certain season wearing outfits ranging from a grass skirt and coconut bra to camouflage. Contestants interacted with the judges and audience. Some even gave out flowers or ‘leied’ the judges, including Messer, Mr. Congeniality.

During this event, contestants had to answer questions like, “What is the hardest thing for young people in agriculture?”

During intermission, contestants scurried around carrying white boxes urging the audience to vote for them with their money.

In the final event, dress your major, contestants walked out in attire pertaining to their future careers as the MC announced their field of study and fun facts about themselves. This was both Knupp and Messer’s favorite event, they said.

Messer, who is planning on going home to farm and sell seed corn, came out on a John Deere pedal tractor.

“I dressed as a farmer, and we sell seed corn and the first thing that came to my mind was the pedal tractor and I decided to put a stereo in there to make it a little funner,” Messer said.

Knupp, who is planning on farming back home and driving truck and coaching high school football, came out with three students dressed as pigs.

“We sell pigs at home, and I love trucking so I wanted to incorporate that,” Knupp said. “The last event was your hobby, and that’s what I kind of have a passion for.”

To be a part of this contest, participants had to fill out an application, said Chelsea Watkins, sophomore in diary science and Sigma Alpha chair of Mr. CALS.

Each club in the CALS was allowed to send one representative, except for the two larger clubs, Brock and Bridle and Ag Business Club, which each had two representatives.

Before contestants were able to compete in Mr. CALS competition, they had to be nominated by members of their club. Some even had to compete against other club members, including Mr. Congeniality, Messer.

“We got nominated by people in the club to go up…and strut our stuff…and they voted on us,” Messer said.

Messer said with two weeks to think, he had some good ideas ready for the competition.

Andrew Luzum, junior in agricultural business and member of Ag Business Club, said he had to compete with other members as well by answering a question and showing his talent.

“I think its going to be fun being all out and professionally dressed, showing that College of Ag guys aren’t just the hicks on campus. We’re more than that,” Luzum said before the competition started.

Molly Foley, senior in agriculture and life sciences education and president of Sigma Alpha, said she hopes this event will help promote their name throughout campus, especially since their membership has drastically increased this year.

“I think it would be awesome to create an annual event that people look forward too…and they want to attend whether they are in the College of Ag or just a student at Iowa state,” Foley said. “We would love to see it grow in years to come.”

Foley said she believes the night was a success. Sigma Alpha raised $927.54 and 149 cans of food for their philanthropy, Central Iowa Shelter Services.