Rich Utley • The Good of Goshen

Rich Utley

Board member and recent inductee into the Indiana Association of Fairs and Festivals Hall of Fame, Elkhart County 4-H Fair

Published March 2021

I’m very humbled. I was not expecting it whatsoever.

There have been a number of people from our fair who were inducted in the past. The latest one before myself was Kelly Ropp.

It was about 1981 when we got our daughter Jennifer (Prough) into 4-H. It just kept snowballing from then on. First it was just projects for Jen. Then she got into poultry, so we got very involved with Poultry Club. Throughout that time I was on the advisory committee and moved up to barn superintendent and chair of the advisory committee. My daughter had been into the fair board apprenticeship program and she evolved into actually running that program.

They needed somebody to take care of deliveries that came into the fair office, so I did that. A shipment would come in, and we would sign for it and deliver it out to all the people it went to.
I started working with camping under Dennis Sharkey. He found out he was going ‘through the chairs’ to be fair board president and knew he wouldn’t have time to do that. Then I took over, and I’m still doing camping.

I became a voting member of the fair board in 1998. I was fair board president in 2015.

It’s a community fair. We involve everybody. It’s a great program. Mainly, it’s 4-H we’re centered on. That pushes kids, it gets them very involved, and it generally involves family. Everybody just gets excited to have that happen. Young people develop into great leaders. I’ve seen that in my daughter and in lots of kids that I know.

There are a lot of people who come together to run the fair and visit it. The whole feeling of community – this is our place, this is our community, this is our fair – people are very proud of that. It’s grown and grown and grown to be what it is today. It’s a gathering place for everybody. People see old friends. ‘Hey, we’ll see you at the fair’ is a common thing you hear from people.

I’m proud of Elkhart County and for all that everybody does. It’s all meant to build up our community, and we try our best.

Writing and editing by Scott Weisser and Neil King

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