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Harness racing pioneer named 4-H fair citizen of the year

Posted on June 12, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — The person announced Wednesday evening, June 12, as the Citizen of the Year for the 2013 Elkhart County 4-H Fair is one who makes sense, given that this year’s president of the fair board is the director of the fair’s harness racing program.

Board president Tim Graber decided to honor Harley Yoder of Goshen this year. Yoder is a familiar name in the area harness racing circuit.

Yoder has been a part of the fair’s harness races for years, and is a big promoter of the sport, according to Graber. When harness racing returned to the fair in the mid-1970s, Yoder won the first race. “I truly feel he is one of the pioneers of harness racing in this area,” said his son, Dewayne.

Yoder has been in the industry for 55 years, and maintained the fair track for years.

He’s suffered broken bones, concussions, separated shoulders and was even struck by lightning once, according to Graber.

He’a helped owners, trainers and drivers enter the business, according to the fair and to his son.

He served as a mentor for eight years for youths in the only 4-H Harness Racing Club in the state.

“I basically grew up with Harley,” said Graber. “Harley Yoder is one of the premier horsemen of our area,” Graber said.

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