Posted on March 31, 2011 at 1:41 PM by Global Reach
In 1929, 75 years ago, Kenneth Fulk showed his first livestock exhibit at the Iowa State Fair. And now, 150 years after its creation, the Iowa State Fair is still going strong thanks in large part to Kenneth Fulk and his love of livestock, fairs, and young people.
Ken was the Iowa State Fair Secretary/Manager from 1962-1974 and has been described as “part P.T. Barnum and part Iowa farm boy”. Ken utilized this combination of traits to transform the fair during his tenure from an agricultural exposition to an event that reached out and attracted a diverse audience – rural and urban, young and old, seed corn cap and bell bottoms. Ken’s background in 4-H and FFA and his interest in livestock made him a strong supporter of Iowa State Fair youth programs.
Ken was born and raised in Page County, Iowa, one of the birthplaces of the 4-H spirit. Ken’s daughter Patty Fulk Findlay says he always referred to Head, Heart, Hands, and Health and asked his five daughters to listen and think about those words as they went through their everyday life. “He deeply believed in the 4-H motto “to make the best better’.” Ken was county 4-H president, state 4-H vice president, and president of the Future Farmers of America, earning the American Farmer Degree. Ken majored in Animal Science while a student at Iowa State College, was a varsity athlete, business manager of the Iowa Agriculturalist, and advertising manager of the Daily and yearbook. In addition, Ken was on the Livestock Judging team and was national champion in horse and sheep.
Ken’s college experiences helped prepare him for a career path that took him into management and promotion. He was a farm manager in southwest Iowa before serving in the Pacific during World War II where he received a field commission. Following the war, Ken shared his talents with various organizations, including ISU Extension, Iowa Beef Producers, American Shorthorn Breeders Association, and the Iowa Department of Agriculture.
But fairs and livestock expositions were in his blood. Ken was the first secretary of the South East Iowa Fair Association, an official of the International Livestock Show in Chicago and Ak-Sar-Ben, a member of the American Royal Board of Governors, and an official of numerous other livestock shows.
After his appointment as Iowa State Fair secretary in 1962, Ken set to work to rejuvenate and expand the fair. He marketed the fair around themes including Heritage and Discover and brought in rock and pop bands as well as country in an effort to reach new audiences. Following his tenure at the Iowa State Fair, Ken worked his wonders at the Orange County Fair in California, building and expanding that fair also. And following his retirement from the Orange County Fair, Ken was a consultant in Hungary for the first county fair since World War II.
Iowa 4-H and the Iowa State Fair celebrates the life and contribution of Ken Fulk and is pleased to induct him into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame.