This past Wednesday I had the opportunity to travel with four of our baggers to Wisconsin Dells for the Wisconsin Grocers Association’s “Best Bagger Bag-Off.” The four associates who represented Festival were Aly Huxford from Suamico, Appleton Northland’s Jason Carroll, Marshfield’s Jared Seidel, and Stephanie Kelleher from the La Crosse Copeland store. These four baggers were the winners of our four Festival market competitions. The baggers are judged on the following categories: speed, distribution of weight between bags, proper bag building techniques, style and attitude. The baggers could receive a possible total of 28 points, and the top three finishers would move on to a final round with the winner traveling to Las Vegas for the National Best Bagger Competition. It was very quiet in the car during our drive to the Dells. The baggers were not sure what to expect and I could tell they were plotting how to win while trying not to think about their nerves. Once we arrived in the Dells and they saw the set up, it was obvious they were getting more excited. The room was set up with three check stands on a stage and each check stand was filled with items waiting to be bagged. Next to the check stands there was a table for the judges and chairs for the spectators. There were sixteen baggers eagerly waiting to compete from grocery stores all across the state. About a half an hour before the competition started, I was excited to see our Festival group working together on the best strategy for each of the items. They were giving each other pointers and really encouraging each other. When the contest finally began, three people at a time were called to compete. Each time a Festival associate was called, it was my job to cheer as loudly as I could and really be encouraging. After the bagging portion of the Bag-Off, each associate was asked some questions about what they would do if they won and how they prepared. I was so proud of the Festival team! They did a great job showing off their personalities and their pride for Festival in their answers. They competed to the best of their abilities and left their hearts on the belt. Even though we did not place in the top three, I know they represented Festival the best they could. They had pride, good sportsmanship, and most importantly, they all had fun. They are planning and practicing so we can win a trip to Las Vegas next year!
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