Iowan of the Day

Since 1997, the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation and Cookies Food Products have come together in the search for outstanding Iowans to recognize at each year’s Iowa State Fair. We look for individuals across the state who personify the greatness of Iowa with a strong work ethic, loyalty to helping others, and an exceptional sense of Iowa pride.

Every year, 10 nominees are named Iowan of the Day, receiving a special day of recognition at the Fair. As Iowan of the Day, winners receive the following:

  • Four Iowa State Fair admission tickets
  • An introduction on the Anne & Bill Riley Stage
  • Four Grandstand show tickets for their day
  • Privilege to use the Iowan of the Day golf cart for the day
  • VIP parking
  • Accommodations at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown
  • $200 cash

View a full list of the past Iowans of the Day since the program's inception in 1997.


Do you know someone who commits their life to bettering your community? Someone who deserves to be acknowledged for their efforts? Be sure they receive the recognition they deserve! Nominate your shining star by July 1 for this year’s Fair.

Download a nomination form here. Forms can also be requested by calling 515-262-3111 ext. 378. All nominations are considered for 3 years.

Nominees must be residents of Iowa. Each nomination is evaluated on a number of things, including community involvement, volunteerism, personal achievements, and involvement with youth to name a few. Nominators should provide us with supplemental materials that emphasize these areas such as testimonials, photos, newspaper articles and letters of recommendation. Any information that shows our judges the greatness of your nominee is welcomed! A sample nomination application from 2010 is available here. Or, watch our nomination video to see what to include!

Download a poster to hang up in your community and help us recognize Iowa's finest!



Sheri Avis Horner, West Des Moines   
Lifelong supporters of the Fair, Sheri and the late Bob Horner have made countless contributions to keep the Fairgrounds in top-notch condition. In 2013 the Robert G. Horner and Sheri Avis Horner Service Center was named to show appreciation for their support. Sheri has been involved with other organizations around the Metro including DMACC, Unity Point and the Festival of Trees. 

Ron Hunerdosse, Fairfield   
Ron organizes Christmas baskets for the citizens of Fairfield, spending countless hours in the warehouse putting together food boxes and organizing volunteers to deliver the baskets. Ron has been recognized within the Fairfield community as Fairfield’s Citizen of the Year, as one of Fairfield’s Friends of Education and Fairfield’s Teacher of the Year. Above all, Ron has been a courageous coach- always encouraginand inspiring his athletes. One former athlete wrote to Coach ‘Dosse,’ “I can’t describe how thankful I am that I had the pleasure of having you as a coach. You impacted my self-confidence majorly.”

Deb Kosters, Sibley   
Deb organizes semi-monthly meetings for young moms, opening her home before Christmas, serving tea and decorating cookies. This is a support system and a safe place for moms to come together in the community with any concerns that they may have. Deb also delivers homemade meals for families and shut-ins whenever the need arises. She is committed to the high school band, vocal music and speech- always stepping in to ensure that students have the opportunity to do their best. Deb has also been an active 4-H leader and State Project Superintendent. 

Gayle Bortz, Chariton   
Gayle continually gives a voice to those who are less fortunate. She is an advocate for people with intellectual disabilities through Mosaic, a lay spiritual director at First Lutheran Church and a member of Lutheran Lakeside Camp. As a speech pathologist, Gayle has taken her speech and language talents further and helps the sick and elderly communicate with their loved ones. On any given day you can find Gayle somewhere in the Chariton community giving of her time in a variety of ways through her involvement as a Lucas County Health Center Ambassador or in the Chariton Chamber of Commerce, Homestead Assisted Living, Kiwanis, the Lucas County Arts Council and the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign.

Howard Hammond, Slater   
Howard served this great country through the Army ROTC and in the Korean War. Howard has also served his community as a city council man and mayor. While serving on the Ballard Community School Board, he was dependable and had great vision on building projects. A community minded individual, Howard organized an alliance of individuals for a South Story co-hort group.  Howard was instrumental to the development of the Slater Pool and helped establish the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail. Unexpectedly, Howard passed away after being notified of this honor. Accepting the award on his behalf is Mark and Ellen Hammond. 

Gary Fulton, Marshalltown   
Gary has dedicated countless hours to the betterment of his community. Serving for more than 20 years on the Marshalltown Trees Forever/Branching Out Committee, Gary plants trees every spring and fall. He also coordinates a children’s garden every year at Pilgrim Heights, helping kids plant, care for, and harvest vegetables to be used for meals during the camps that are held there. Gary also volunteers at the Iowa State Fair! He has helped to set up, judge and take down the horticulture building. Gary has been volunteering with the Iowa Veteran’s Home since 2011. He accompanies residents to all sorts of activities, including meals on and off-site, music programs, the barnyard and the tractor show.

Keith Carlson, Stratford   
Moving to Stratford in 1976, Keith has gone above and beyond to make his small community a better place. A long-time agriculture advocate, Keith provides information on animal care, soil conservation, and food safety to the agri-food system, including McDonald’s and Costco. He has served on the Iowa Soybean Promotion Board for 6 years, Stratford Lions Club, Main Street and the Hamilton County SEED Revolving Loan Fund. In the 1990’s, Keith spear-headed the effort to build a 20-unit apartment building for senior citizens in Stratford. More than $1.3 million was raised to construct Athens Woods Estate, now a nursing home.

Ralph Hodson, Ackworth   
Raising his family on a farm in Ackworth, Ralph instilled the values of responsibility, time management, and the rewards of hard work into each of his sons. He continues to lead by example, always willing to be a mentor to young people as they strive to succeed. Ralph was the Be-Square 4-H leader for 17 years. He served two terms on the Warren County Extension Council and Warren County 4-H Committee. For nearly a decade he has been a livestock buyer for DeeZee Manufacturing. He is a trustee of the Warren County Cemetery Association.

Sid Morris, Cedar Falls   
As a Korean Veteran, Sid was a driving force for the creation and development of the Cedar Falls Veterans Park, including four phases of fundraising. He hosted the “Veterans of Cedar Valley” cable show, where he interviewed a wide variety of veterans who shared their service stories with the public. Sid is constantly keeping veteran groups involved in the community. With 40 years of service in the Cedar Falls school district, serving on the City Council, Board of Education, Veterans Affairs Board, Board of Adjustment and as a Cedar Falls Utilities Trustee - Sid continually goes above and beyond. Currently, he is assisting with a campaign for a new high school in Cedar Falls. A commitment to volunteering- Sid has been involved with the American Red Cross, the Cedar Falls Historical Society, Goodwill Industries and more.

Brenda Lee Larkey, Low Moor   
From being a volunteer softball coach to organizing a benefit auction, Brenda has done it all! Brenda Lee was instrumental in starting “Presidents Row,” where trees are planted in Platt Park to honor the past presidents. Brenda has served on the Camanche Days board for the past 34 years and was a 4 time president. She started the diaper derby, founded and advised the Camanche Days Teen Board, started Camanche Days King and Queen, and revamped the sponsorship festival fundraiser. Brenda Lee has also served for 10 years on the Low Moor City Council and was a representative for Clinton County on the Crime stoppers committee.


Carolyn Scott – Bloomfield  
Carolyn is actively involved with her local 4-H clubs, teaching the art of sewing to young women and sharing her knowledge about sheep with exhibitors at the Davis County Fair. Carolyn uses her time and talents to plant flowers and maintain them on the streets of Bloomfield. Her talented green thumb has been appreciated by many in Bloomfield, as Carolyn has been a Master Gardner for four years. Carolyn also donates her time advocating for the advancement of women with the P.E.O, a philanthropic organization.
Shirley Geadelmann – Clarence
Shirley shares her passion for agriculture with her community through Iowa Master Farm Homemakers, the Cedar County Farm Bureau, local 4-H clubs, and the local Dairy Herd Improvement Association. She has also shared her experiences and knowledge about dairy cows with the Lowden Historical Society and children at the St. Johns United Church of Christ for more than 50 years. Shirley also spends her time volunteering for her local hospital, church, library and Camp Courageous. She led a fundraiser to raise money for a handicap- accessible van in support of the elderly. As an Older Iowans Legislator, she has been an advocate for services to support issues elderly may face.
Donald Bries – Dubuque
Donald has been a Cubs Scout leader and a Boy Scouts Scoutmaster for more than 20 years. The Knights of Columbus in Dubuque has been blessed with Donald’s time and generosity, as he is Grand Knight of Council 5513. He headed up the annual Tootsie Roll campaign to raise money for special needs children.  For the past 15 years Don has volunteered for the Dubuque Special Olympics and volunteered for the Key City Sams camping club, serving meals for the Olympians during the Special Olympics and completing community service projects. Donald and his wife are well known for the creation of the All Starts Country Dancers, entertaining residents of the local nursing home.
Ron Bell – Mondamin
Ron spearheaded the Mondamin Christmas Party and the Mondamin Heritage Days Celebration. As Mayor, Ron initiated projects to replace the water tower and to upgrade the sanitary sewer system. As a member of the City Council, Ron applied for many grants that led to Mondamin receiving updates to the city park. Just a few of the organizations Ron has spent his time volunteering for are the Harrison County Board of Public Health, Landfill Commission, Conference Board and Emergency Management Commission. Ron also volunteers for the Early Childhood Board, serving as a community representative and secretary, leading efforts to provide education, health and human services to children and their families.
Marian McQuaid – Guthrie Center
Marian organized “Friends of the Library,” a group that guided the project of building a new library. Marian also volunteers her time assisting with after school programs, leading story hour for children and writing the weekly library newspaper articles.  She is a member of Homestead Helpers, a support group for the local nursing home and volunteers weekly for the Guthrie County Arts Council, which she founded. Marian has served on various committees to put together events for all members of her community to enjoy, including the Fall Arts Festival.
Patricia Nelson – Winterset
Pat played an important role in creating a festival to celebrate the Bridges of Madison County and led the first ever Covered Bridge Festival in 1970. Since then she has continued to donate her time to help prepare for the annual event. Pat also coordinated weddings to take place on the bridges. Pat enjoys sharing her musical abilities with her community. In the 1970’s she put together a community theatre, known as the Apple Tree Players and played as the lead role in a few of the performances. She volunteers her time to her church, singing in the choir and as a soloist, as well as singing for various events within Winterset. Pat also began the Women’s Giving Circle, a group of women who donate money each month to local charities to serve the women and children of Madison County.
Mary Doak – Grundy Center
The hours Mary spent researching Grundy Center’s history to put together a presentation demonstrating why her town was deserving of a new Main Street is well known in Grundy Center. Along with establishing Main Street Grundy Center, Mary also established the Grundy Center Preservation Commission, the Grundy Family YMCA and the Grundy Center Historical Society. Much of her time spent with the Grundy Center Historical Society was to restore the one-room school house. She has also spent time with children in the local elementary school and assisted with the local museum. Mary began several community events, including the “Magical Forest,” and the Felix Grundy Festival.
Marty Braster – Centerville
Marty’s education in biology and agronomy has led him to opportunities that benefit the entire state of Iowa, as he is leading projects to improve water and soil quality. Not only does Marty develop new soil conservation methods to improve Iowa’s water resources, but he has also volunteered his time in Puerto Rico with the United State Peace Corps improving their conservation methods.  Marty played a significant role in developing the Loess Scenic Byway and the Chariton Valley Switch Grass Project. Marty also enjoys volunteering his time to youth in his community. Marty played an instrumental role in creating a community soccer club that children of all ages could enjoy.
Chris Fox – Johnston
Chris dedicated his time to the U.S. Army for 27 years, serving overseas for multiple tours and for the Drug Demand Reduction organization at Camp Dodge, educating youth how to stay or become drug free. The U.S. Army led him to opportunities educating youth throughout Iowa about substance abuse prevention. Chris was a key component to the creation of STAR BASE, “Stay on Track” and other leadership skill programs that are being taught in Iowa schools today, affecting over 26,000 students. These programs have been recognized on a national level. Much of Chris’s time the past ten years has been spent volunteering for Ducks Unlimited, which led him to becoming Chairman of Mid-Iowa Ducks Unlimited, and eventually district chairman. Chris has been a volunteer for Blue Ribbon Foundation, selling water during the Fair, assisting with the annual Corndog Kickoff and driving the 1854 Society Shuttle for Fairgoers during the Fair.
Bernard Becker – Lakota
Bernie is well known for planning an annual pheasant hunt and community banquet in support of wounded soldiers, otherwise known as “Hunting with Heroes”. Each year, Bernie invites Purple Heart Medal recipients from North Carolina to come to Lakota for a pheasant hunt outing to enjoy the outdoors and to see how much their service to our country has been appreciated. Bernie continues to be active in his community, serving on the Volunteer Fire Department, the Volunteer Ambulance Service and Pheasants Forever for over 15 years. When Bernie served as Mayor for five years and on the Lakota City Council, he led many projects to include all members of his community, including swimming and bowling trips. He also shares his knowledge with hunting and fishing with the young outdoorsman in his community.