A bright-yellow bio-diesel-powered “Bean Machine” is cruising the streets and roads of northwestern Iowa these days. Kathleen Elbert of Emmetsburg was one of fifty-thousand people who signed up at a renewable-energy booth at the Clay County Fair in Spencer last month, and says she was floored to get a call saying she’d won the prize, a bio-diesel-powered car.

She got a call from the Iowa Soybean Association in Urbandale telling her she’d won the Win-A-Free-Ride Sweepstakes. She says she hesitated, wondering if it was for real. Her doubts vanished when she got the keys to the bright-yellow “Bean Machine.” It’s a 2006 Volkswagen Beetle, and she’s actually won a 24-month, 24-thousand-mile lease with a supply of fuel also furnished.

It was part of a summer-long biodiesel promotional blitz by the Iowa Soybean Association. She’s already driven it around town and noticed the second looks from passing motorists. Elbert says “It’s going to be a good advertiser.” She and her husband Cletus Elbert farm near Emmetsburg, and they use a 5-percent soy-blend in their diesel-powered farming equipment.Elbert says she plans to drive the “Bean Machine” on area tractor rides and in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Emmetsburg next spring.