‘It’s like a family reunion’: 2022 Cass County Fair Grand Marshals enjoy fair experience

Published 10:30 am Monday, July 25, 2022

CASSOPOLIS — For Diana Grabemeyer, participating in the Cass County Fair was a family tradition.

The oldest of six children, Diana grew up on a dairy farm and routinely showed dairy and beef cattle at the fair. Her parents, Victor and Donna Wyant, owned and operated their dairy farm for more than 55 years and were Grand Marshals of the Cass County Fair in 1996.

When Diana and her husband, Bill were approached to be Grand Marshals for the 2022 edition of the fair, one thought crossed her mind.

“When they first called and asked about that, I said ‘I thought that was for old people,’” she laughed. “And I realized I guess that’s what I am, now.” 

Bill and Diana Grabemeyer have been involved with the Cass County Fair for more than 40 years.

From their days participating in 4-H as youths to watching their children and grandchildren take part, the Grabemeyers have been involved with nearly every aspect of the fair.

“Bill and Diana Grabemeyer and their family have been involved with the fair for longer than I can remember,” said Cass County Fair Board President Brian Kuemin. “Bill was a past Board member and continues to volunteer on committees. Bill always has a smile on his face and a hearty handshake for all that he meets. They are exceptional representatives of the fair and we are very happy that they are serving as this year’s Grand Marshals.”

Diana has fond memories of participating in 4-H as a youth. As one of the only girls showing steers at the time, she enjoyed competing against boys older than her.

“I was like the only girl at that point that was doing that kind of thing,” she said. “There were these big boys, I was nine and they were probably 14 and I thought that was kind of cool. They kind of took care of me because I was a little girl.”

While Bill was a member of 4-H as a youth, he did not start actively participating in fairs until the early 1980s when their children first began participating in the fair. Since then, he has volunteered for several committees and served as a board member for roughly 10 years. For Bill, the fair functions as a family reunion of sorts.

“To me, some of the best people in the county get together at the fairgrounds every year for a week,” he said. “We’re the most northwestern farm in the county, so there are people that I know from the southwest or southeast who you only see once in the whole year in between. “You’re up there for a week and it’s like a great big family reunion.”

Bill believes the fair brings people together, even in ways he never would have expected. He recalled a night 18 years ago when he helped warm a baby bottle for a woman and her child after their trailer breaker blew out.

“You don’t go home when you get something like that,” he said. “I went out to their campsite and found the breaker that was messed up. I found the plug that was messed up and I held it in to make contact as she warmed the bottle for the baby. “It was about midnight before I got out of there.”

Bill said the Grabemeyers became close to that family following the incident and that the child is now a senior at Ross Beatty High School.

“I just did a mental health and stress management program for the ag department for the ag teacher, and she was one of the girls in the class,” he said. “We like to laugh about it. She just rolled her eyes and started laughing. We told the story to the class and they thought it was a hoot, but again, most of the kids in the class were in 4-H and stayed at the fair, so to them and made perfect sense.”

The Grabemeyers are looking forward to kicking off the latest edition of the fair. For Diana, whose mother Donna passed away in 2020 at the age of 93, following in her parents’ footsteps as a grand marshal is a high honor.

“She would have been real proud,” she said.