Greiman wishes Iowa State Fair would never end
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
Date Modified: 08/27/2012 2:25 PM
DES MOINES — Don Greiman has never missed a day of the Iowa State Fair in 46 years, and he's currently working on 47 years.
With his signature grin and goodwill, Greiman and his wife, Yvonne, were parade marshals for the 2012 Iowa State Fair Parade.
"The Iowa State Fair is one of those activities you wish would never end,' Greiman said. "I never get sick of the fair."
Greiman served on the Iowa State Fair Board for 44 years before retiring in 2009. During that time he was board president twice. He helped lead the fair through the financial struggles of the 1970s and was also instrumental in forming the Blue Ribbon Foundation in 1993. The foundation has raised money to renovate and build new facilities at the fair.
Last year, the Blue Ribbon Foundation named Greiman Iowa State Fair Ambassador.
Greiman, 85, has written a book about his experiences on the board as well as his experiences showing purebred Angus cattle. Published by the Iowa Blue Ribbon Foundation, "A Blue Ribbon Life: Memories of the Iowa State Fair" is available for $20. Greiman co-wrote the 108-page book with Jane Cox, an ISU theater professor.
Greiman graduated from Iowa State University and returned to Garner to farm and raise cattle. Today, his son, Ted, and his wife, Mary, run the farming operation. Ted and Mary's sons are students at ISU.
Greiman and Yvonne's other son, Brad, teaches agricultural education courses in the graduate school at the University of Minnesota.
Greiman's grandfather started the family's purebred Angus herd, one of the oldest in the country. His father set the genetic base.
"I took over from my dad, and Ted has taken our herd to the next level," Greiman said. "My grandson, Cole, showed the Grand Champion Female at the National Junior Angus Show in Louisville. Cole's brother, Kyle, showed the Champion Bred and Owned the year before, and Cole showed the Champion Bred and Owned the year before that. Grandpa is very proud."
Greiman came up with the title, "Living a Blue Ribbon Life," because for an exhibitor, a blue ribbon designates "above average."
"I'm not (above average), but I've been very blessed for only having average if average talents to be involved in the Iowa State Fair," Greiman said.
Greiman was president of ISU's Alumni Association, served on the board of directors of the American Angus Association when it initiated Certified Angus Beef and was first president of the Iowa Purebred Beef Council.
Proceeds from Greiman's book will benefit the Blue Ribbon Foundation.
"The Blue Ribbon Foundation has played a very important part in the Iowa State Fair," Greiman said. "Without them, I don't think the fair would have been able to accomplish what it has in restoring old buildings and building new facilities. We were in a situation where our buildings were deteriorating and the farm economy was in a slump, and the Legislature didn't have the funding to assist."
"Don was very instrumental in the formation of the Blue Ribbon Foundation," said Alan Brown, vice president of the Iowa State Fair Board from Hampton. "We fully appreciate what he and boards of the past have done to preserve the fairgrounds. I know they went through some very challenging times and brought back to Iowa the treasure that the state fairgrounds is."
Greiman's favorite part of the fair is livestock shows.
When it comes to fair food, he "loves a good gyro or a hot dog." He also enjoys pork chops and steak.