Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

July 18, 2013

ELKHART COUNTY FAIR: Staying on track

Harley Yoder has been winning fair races since 1976

GOSHEN — Calling Harley Yoder a veteran harness racing driver at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair would be an understatement when considering all he has done for the sport.

Referring to him as “The Father of Elkhart County 4-H Fair Harness Racing” might be more appropriate.

Yoder has been there since the return of harness racing to the fair back in 1976. He won the first race, driving Proud Dancer to a track record that stood for several years.

Yoder is being recognized for his efforts by being named the fair’s 2013 Citizen of the Year.

“It was a surprise when they told me,” Yoder said about the award. “Thinking back it’s been a long time that I have been involved with the fair and harness racing so it might be time for something like this to come along.

“The only thing they have told me so far is about being in the parade. I went out and got a carriage from an Amish man I know. My wife (Ann) and I are going to sit in the back while my son (Dewayne) and his wife (Brenda) drive.”

Fair harness racing director Tim Graber is serving as the fair president this year. He selected Yoder for the honor.

“When I was approached about my choice for the honor no one came to mind right away,” Graber said. “Then Ronda Chupp, who works with the award, asked if there wasn’t someone from harness racing. Right away Harley’s name came to mind. It was an easy choice when considering what he has done for harness racing.”

Yoder, 79, grew up Amish and became licensed to train and drive horses in 1958 at age 25. He took to the sport quickly, winning the Indiana Driver of the Year award for the first time during his initial season.

“I consider Harley a part of my family,” said Brooke Harvell who works with Graber running the fair’s harness racing program. “I cannot think of a more deserving person for the award.”

Harness racing in Elkhart County dates back to the 1890s. The sport’s return to the 4-H fair began in January of 1976, with the founding of the Elkhart County Trotting and Pacing Horse Association. Its purpose was to promote Standardbred Harness Racing in Elkhart County and to assist the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Board in every possible way with the harness racing program at the fair.

Yoder was a member of the original steering committee along with Joe C. Blocker, Gordon Rowell, Bill Mowry, Mel Cross, Lloyd Shank, Joe Prough and L. Orville Miller. The Association Attorney was Robert Hepler.

“I had no idea when we started how popular the sport would become,” Yoder said.

Yoder won the first race at the fair in the summer of 1976 when he guided Proud Dancer to a win in 2:07 1/5, setting a track record that stood for several years.

Yoder’s relationship goes back a long way with Graber.

“Tim’s dad and I used to race against each other, but I also drove some horses for him and we traveled together a lot,” Yoder said.

Graber recalled, “Harley has meant a lot to me. He and my dad started racing the same year. A man by the name of Lloyd Shank had a training track in Goshen and the both started there. My dad had a pretty good horse and Harley raced him for my dad.

“I traveled with them a lot. Some of my earliest memories are of running to get Harley french fries between races. I grew up around Harley and he had as much influence on my life as anyone other than my dad.”

Over the years, Yoder has suffered his share of injuries including broken bones, cracked ribs, concussions and separated shoulders. He was even struck by lightning while warming up for a race at Jackson Raceway (Jackson, Mich.).

Yoder served for more than eight years as a mentor to children in the only Harness Horse 4-H Club in the state.

One of the many highlights in his career concerns his first wife Barb. In 1997, he told his wife to pick out a yearling at the Topeka Speed Sale. She selected a trotting filly named Hoosier Millie. Unfortunately, Barb died in the summer of 2000. One year later the Barbara Yoder Memorial Trot was held, with Hoosier Millie — driven by Yoder — winning in her honor.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Nadal Withdraws Tennis [GOSHEN NEWS] TENNIS: Nadal withdraws from two tournaments Rafael Nadal withdrew Wednesday from U.S. Open tuneups in Toronto and Cincinnati because of a right wrist injury, putting in doubt his status for a title defense at the year's last Grand Slam tournament.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • NFL: Colts look for second-year LB to take big step forward ANDERSON — Big Bjoern has certainly made his presence felt during the first week of training camp for the Indianapolis Colts. Bjoern Werner -- the 6-foot-3, 257-pound second-year outside linebacker for the Colts -- is being counted on to big a major force on the Indianapolis defense this season.

    July 30, 2014

  • Bridgestone Invitational Golf-3 [GOSHEN NEWS] GOLF: Woods hopeful for more good memories at the Firestone AKRON, Ohio — Tiger Woods finds out over the next two weeks if his season is over or just getting started.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Sideshows involving Rice and Dungy stain NFL's image

    Pro football training camps should be all about, well, football. But the talk around the NFL is about Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice's two-game suspension, Tony Dungy's indelicate remarks about Michael Sam and Jim Irsay's largesse. What kind of league is Roger Goodell running?

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • NCAA Concussion Lawsuit-9 [THE GOSHEN NEWS] NCAA settles head-injury lawsuit via fund CHICAGO — The NCAA agreed Tuesday to settle a class-action head-injury lawsuit by creating a $70 million fund to diagnose thousands of current and former college athletes to determine if they suffered brain trauma playing football, hockey, soccer and

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Offense adapting to new arsenal ANDERSON — Dwayne Allen didn’t often recognize the Indianapolis Colts offense he was watching from the sideline last season.The third-year tight end suffered a season-opening hip injury in Week 1 against the Oakland Raiders, then watched as left guar

    July 30, 2014

  • Running back Rainey is released ANDERSON — Just days after earning praise for his playmaking ability from head coach Chuck Pagano, running back Chris Rainey was waived by the Indianapolis Colts on Monday morning.The news was broken in a press release around 8:30 a.m. and later conf

    July 30, 2014

  • SPT GN140730 Kulp Former Jimtown coach Brent Kulp named GHS softball coach GOSHEN — When you find your calling in life you follow it, even if it means going back to a previous career. Brent Kulp understands this lesson.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Big Ten Media Days Football [Duplicate] Playoffs could create chances for Big Ten teams CHICAGO — As he watched the BCS championship game last season, Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook could not help but wonder: What if a playoff system were in place? Would the Spartans be playing for the biggest prize? No need to wonder anymore. T

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • USA Basketball-3 [Duplicate] Rose returns as U.S. basketball team opens camp LAS VEGAS — Derrick Rose says he feels old. The 25-year-old point guard's rigorous play on Monday during the U.S. basketball team's first practice dictated otherwise. "I was joking with Kyle Korver, I told him 'I'm getting old, man. I've got to stret

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways
Poll

With military action and tensions escalating between Russia and Ukraine, as well as Israel and Palestine, are you worried that the U.S. and other nations may get drawn into these conflicts?

Yes, it is a great concern of mine
I’m a little worried, but not too much
No, I’m not worried at all
     View Results