Meet Your Host, Don Grant Zellmer | Group Tour Director
Don Grant Zellmer is thrilled to work with “the best people ever!” as TRAVEL CONNECTIONS’ Group Tour Director, creating a brand-new extension of the travel agency.
Don has been a Group Tour Director since 2012 (formerly at Green River Lines) but is no stranger to entertaining large groups—or traveling, and enjoys combining his two careers.
His background of over five decades as a professional entertainer (he started professionally at age 13) includes performing all over the country in showrooms, casinos, cruises, legitimate theatres, and film. Don has appeared on stage with Hollywood legends such as Debbie Reynolds and Mickey Rooney as an opening act, as well as for numerous popular recording artists like Barbara Mandrell, Tony Orlando, The Diamonds, and even comedienne Phyllis Diller. He was a director/choreographer/featured performer for Cargill Productions, NYC. For 20 years, he owned and operated Zellmer’s Dinner Theatre in the Peoria, IL area, and before returning to the Illinois Valley area, Don spent two seasons headlining two shows in Branson, MO. He operated the Follies Theatre in Utica and Yorkville, now a production company providing entertainment at venues, and for the past 19 years has been the Director & Choreographer of Musical Theatre at IVCC (Illinois Valley Community College). The college received the 2021 award from the Illinois Theatre Association for their Quality and Excellence, Live Theatre Productions.
Don’s experience with group tours goes back many years as a host for NYC theatre trips, and welcoming hundreds of motor coaches annually to his dinner theatre, then Branson.
More recently, he has clocked thousands upon thousands of miles with groups to destinations in all directions, and among his favorites are “any place tropical during the winter!” Also among Don’s favorite destinations is the East Coast during the fall (especially Salem, MA during the Halloween season), New York City during the summer—or holidays, Savannah, GA, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and “any place where a group can have fun, laugh together, and relax.” His favorite souvenir to bring back? “A tan.”
One of Don’s more popular trips is Branson, MO. As an entertainer there, he still has many contacts in the shows who always are happy to join the group, and knows the great places “off the beaten path” that makes the area surprising and unique. His extensive background in theatre both as a performer and director/choreographer also enhances any group visit to New York for Broadway tours.
Originally from the Illinois Valley, then away for decades touring on the road and performing, he now resides in LaSalle with his partner of 19 years, IVCC Professor Dr. David Kuester. He is dad to daughter Lexi Grant (Zellmer) Kaiser, of Peoria, and he and David are proud ‘Papa Don’ and ‘Papa Dave’ to grandsons Addison Grant, now 4 years old, Henry, 9, and 6 month old Bradley.
Still performing professionally, he recently starred in IS THERE LIFE AFTER FIFTY? at Conklin’s Barn Dinner Theatre in Goodfield, IL.