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!


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.
Randy Duncan, Des Moines
Randy is a Des Moines native who attended the University of Iowa on a football scholarship. Randy led the Hawkeyes to a Rose Bowl victory in 1959 against California, was placed second for the Heisman and broke a school record formerly held by Nile Kinnick. After graduating Randy was a first round NFL draft pick, later decided to call the football career quits and moved back to Des Moines to finish law school at Drake University. Described as humble, Randy raised a family and practiced as a lawyer in Des Moines with several pivotal cases in his career. In 2012, Randy was diagnosed with brain cancer with less than a year to survive. He passed away in September but remains an inspiration for others.
Aubrey LaFoy, Arnolds Park
Otherwise known as “Mr. History,” Aubrey has published more than 850 articles and six books about the history of Iowa’s Great Lakes. Aubrey is a fifth generation resident of Dickinson County who served during WWII. Aubrey taught history for 33 years and has been involved with the city council and served on the Okoboji Protective Association Board for 40 years, the Dickinson County Historical Museum and the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum. Aubrey has also been a member of the Kiwanis for 16 years, former president of the Mason City Teacher’s Association and past commodore of the Okoboji Yacht Club. 
Cheryl Wessels, Anita
Cheryl has been an active member of the community serving as a past library board member, treasurer of her church and PEO member. Cheryl volunteers much of her time as the treasurer of the Cass County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, working at the hospital coffee shop and blood drives. What Cheryl is most noted for in the community making 1,500 dresses for the “Little Dresses for Africa” in the first two years of her involved with the program. Since then, Cheryl has made 3,000 dresses and recruited the help of other communities to give to this organization that brings relief to distressed children in Africa and beyond. 
Steve Smith, Algona
Steve works as a meat department manager for Fareway and helped to start the Algona Police Reserve Unit. Steve also operates a small business that teaches self-defense and a concealed weapons permit class. What Steve is most noted for is his involvement with veterans. Steve is a member of the American Legion, Friends of the American Legion, Patriot Guard and the Civil Air Patrol and volunteers with “Hunting with Heroes,” a program that helps disabled veterans to hunt again. Steve organizes the “Avenue of Flags,” cookout held every year in the parking lot of Fareway on the 4th of July and volunteers with the annual ABATE rally. 
Curt Schwanebeck, Knoxville
Curt is known as a Knoxville jewel and helped to reopen the local theatre. The theatre has seen 14,000 guests since its doors opened in 2015 thanks to Curt’s work. The theater is just one of Curt’s many projects. Curt also helps every year with the Knoxville Community Easter Egg Hunt hosted by the Noon Kiwanis, makes dolls for children in hospitals and organizes community fun fairs and education presentations. Curt is also involved in his church and finds time to help at the Science Center of Iowa.  
Richard Vorthmann, Treynor
Described as a pillar of the community, Richard has served 35 years as a township trustee and clerk, co-chairman of the Treynor school reorganization committee and helped build the first tanker truck for the local fire department. Richard has also been extremely involved in his church and served as the president of the Town and Country Club. What Richard is most known for in the Treynor community is his long standing involvement in the Optimist Club where Richard has been instrumental in overseeing the Treynor Can Kennel, a can redemption center that has raised over $135,000 for local youth programs. Richard also served on the Pottawattamie County Fair Board when it purchased and built a new fairgrounds. 
Edna Schrandt, Decorah
Edna has served more than 40 years as a 4-H leader and volunteer for Pony Express Riders of Iowa, an organization that raises money for Camp Sunnyside. Camp Sunnyside enables children and adults with disabilities the full camp experience with canoeing, an animal farm, horseback riding and more. You can still find Edna today soliciting for donations, organizing dances and selling raffle tickets for Pony Express Riders. Edna has also volunteered over 25 years with United Way and has been recognized for her contributions through several awards. 
Willard Larsen, Camanche
Willard was an 8th grade history teacher for 33 years while coaching volleyball and basketball and serving as President of the Camanche Education Association. Willard is also a member of the Camanche High School Hall of Fame committee and active in his church. Outside of the classroom, Willard is a Master Gardener, serves on the Master Gardener’s advisory board, has held two terms as president, is currently co-chairman of three gardening events and chairs the Clinton County Fair Vegetable Contest. Willard has received several awards through gardening and educates area youth about horticulture through programs like Enviro Kids and Plant Partners. 
Bob Clark, West Des Moines
Bob was born and raised in Des Moines and is a graduate of Drake Law School. Bob is the only athlete of Drake University to receive five football letters despite taking a hiatus to serve during WWII. In 1950, Bob became the chapter president of the Des Moines Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) and nine years later became the national president. Being a Jaycee introduced Bob to the world of volunteering and provided him with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Bob has volunteered with the American Heart Association for 48 years and served executive roles for the Principal Charity Classic, United Way and the Drake Relays. Even at 90 years old, Bob continues to volunteer and encourages those around him to do the same. 
Rosemary Beach, Cedar Falls
Although many people may not know Rosemary by name, they may be familiar with the event she started in 1976. Thanks to Rosemary, Cedar Falls has boasted the Sturgis Falls Celebration for the past 41 years where thousands of Cedar Valley residents and visitors pour into Cedar Falls every spring. Rosemary is involved in much more outside of the Sturgis Falls Celebration. She serves as the retired director of the Cedar Falls Historical Society and volunteers for the Cedar Falls Community Theatre, the Cedar Falls Tourism and Visitors Bureau, the Cedar Falls Questers and the Cedar Falls Representative Citizen Committee. Rosemary was inducted into the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame and continues to find new ways to volunteer.