KEC’s North Wing named for Harold Workman

Posted on Nov 12, 2012
Agriculture interests have ensured that Harold Workman’s many contributions to the industry won’t be forgotten after he retires at the end of this year as the long-time President and Chief Executive Officer of the Kentucky State Fair Board.

Workman displaying the plague to be hung up in the North Wing Lobby. Pictured with his wife, Lisa, Executive Vice-President of Kentucky Farm Bureau, Mr. David Beck along with Mary Anne Cronan, former chairman of the State Fair board, and C. Oran Little, retired dean of the UK College of Agriculture.

Thanks to a project spearheaded by a recognition committee chaired by KFB Executive Vice President David S. Beck, the entrance to North Wing Lobby of the Kentucky Expo Center sports a huge sign noting that it is named for Harold Workman. Inside is a plaque bearing his name.

Several hundred people were on hand last month for a ceremony honoring Workman, who has headed the Fair Board staff since 1993, overseeing tremendous growth of both the facility and the agricultural events that it hosts. The ceremony, in fact, was held in conjunction with the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE), which Workman played a key role in developing into the world’s largest show.

Beck coordinated a private fundraising project to pay for the signage and for the ceremony, which he emceed. In welcoming remarks, Beck described Workman as “a tremendous agricultural leader.” The ceremony, he said, was to “recognize the tremendous contribution he made to the development of this facility.”

Beck was followed by a series of speakers who praised Workman, citing his many contributions to agriculture and youth development.  Bill Tolle of Maysville, a long-time Fair Board member who also has been instrumental in the development of NAILE, as well as the Kentucky State Fair shows, said of his close friend: “I honestly can’t think of anyone who has done more for agriculture. The future of agriculture is in better hands because of Harold’s commitment.”

With KFB Executive Vice President and ceremony emcee David S. Beck joining him on stage, Harold Workman thanked the large crowd for the recognition.

It was announced that youth leadership and college scholarship programs would be established in Workman’s name.

C. Oran Little, the retired Dean of the UK College of Agriculture, recalled that Workman came from a humble farm background in Livingston County and worked tirelessly with the animal sciences programs at UK. So much so, Little said, that Workman lived in the animal facilities.

Upon graduation Workman worked in various capacities with livestock shows throughout the state. Little said Workman played a key role in helping to “reactivate and re-energize out county livestock shows.” He went on to say that Workman has exhibited “that big vision; but also works the details.”

Another tribute came from legendary cattleman John C. “Jack” Ragsdale, who also was instrumental with NAILE. Ragsdale, who is world renown for his work with Shorthorn cattle, noted that NAILE began with five cattle breeds and a $50,000 state appropriation.

“You will not be forgotten,” he said to his close friend.

Workman was joined at the ceremony by his wife, Lisa, and many family members. During a brief address, he quipped that the event “is almost like a happy wake – you put signs on buildings after people die.”

Workman received the prestigious KFB Service to Agriculture award in 1995.

The Kentucky Exposition Center is the sixth-largest facility of its type in the nation. Under Workman’s watch, it expanded by more than 766,000 square feet. Besides NAILE and the annual State Fair, it plays host to the massive Farm Machinery Show and had a seven-year run with the National FFA Convention, which will return there next year. Beck noted that those events “mean millions and millions of dollars to the community.”

Tagged Post Topics Include: Bill Tolle, College of Agriculture, David Beck, Farm Machinery Show, Harold Workman, John C Ragsdale, Kentucky Expo Center, Kentucky State Fair, KFB, Livingston County, Maysville, NAILE, National FFA Convention, UK