For 11 months out of the year, Harrison REMC Director Todd Uhl calls a 40-acre cattle farm in Corydon, Indiana, home. But come late July, Uhl ventures up to the Indiana State Fairgrounds in his camper and spends the next 30 days on the premises of what he calls “one of the best State Fairs in the country.”
That month-long “camping trip” — which this year began 10 days before the fair’s opening day on Aug. 4 — is for Uhl the premier perk of his role as Indiana State Fair board president. During the State Fair’s 17-day run, in his role as president and ambassador for the fair, Uhl will be attending numerous events and activities throughout the venue.
A State Fair director since 2011, the Harrison County native has been a local 4-H leader since 1986. Both he and wife Lisa have been Harrison County 4-H Council and Extension board members and officers.
“I was elected to the Harrison County Agricultural Society fair board in 2007 and just completed my 11th fair as a board member,” he said. “I feel the insight gained on those boards has helped me to be both a better State Fair director and rural electric board member.”
Uhl’s first trip to the State Fair was with Lisa in 1986. Years later, when his daughters, Abbigail and Ashley, joined 4-H, he helped them show cattle at the State Fair. “Even today, just looking at the ribbons, banners and plaques that my daughters won at the State Fair brings back so many great memories of what it means to be a family competing at the State Fair,” he said. “I count the memories made alongside my daughters in the 4-H cattle barns as some of our best, and at the heart of that story is what it means for a Hoosier to showcase the best of Indiana agriculture.”
Uhl’s positive experiences throughout each of his daughters’ 10 years in 4-H fueled his goal to give back to the State Fair and eventually led to his election to the fair board, representing District Five. Twenty-one counties in southern Indiana are part of Uhl’s district. “Being a director of the Indiana State Fair is the highlight of my public service career,” he said.
Although he likens the fair to the Super Bowl when it comes to Indiana agriculture, Uhl said it also showcases the state’s diverse demographic — traditional farmers as well as those involved in non-traditional pursuits, Indiana youth, crafters and cooks, and those who want to enjoy the carnival, concerts and food. “The Indiana State Fair really is greater than the sum of its parts,” Uhl said. “It’s that whole all-encompassing quality, the richness of the diversity that I truly love about the Indiana State Fair. It is still the highlight of my summer.”