Harland Priddle, a Kansas original, icon and legend in his own time, whose multiple careers included time spent with the Kansas State Fair, passed away December 12.
In 2020, Harland, who grew up on a Reno County farm near Haven, penned his autobiography entitled “On the Sidelines of History: My Life’s Journey from the Farm House to the White House and back.”
In 1970, the Air Force dispatched Harland to the White House to serve a four-year stint as the Deputy Director of Communications for President Richard Nixon. It would turn out to be one of the most historic times in American history.
In 1974, Harland retired and returned to his roots in Reno County. In 1975, the fair’s new General Manager, Bob Gottschalk selected Harland as his assistant, and, to no one’s surprise, he wasted no time in putting his mark on Kansas’ largest event.
While working with Bob, Harland established a management system for each of the buildings and set a priority to network with livestock organizations each year during the fair, resulting in successful recruitment of livestock shows to the fairgrounds. Soon, Harland submitted applications to the United States Department of Commerce, which led to construction of asphalt streets, new horse and beef show facilities, Boy and Girl Scout buildings, and a new entrance at 20th and Poplar Street. Then, the Hutchinson Correctional Facility stepped forward and offered to provide the services of 36 inmates to undertake labor-intensive projects on the fairgrounds, including mowing and trimming.
In 1978, Harland left employment at the State Fair for a career opportunity in banking. The innovations he helped put in place nearly a half-century ago have survived the test of time and remain in effect to this day.
Rest in peace Harland. Everything you touched in a lifetime of 93 years; you made better.
At the dawn of a new year, it is time for a new start. As we savor the unprecedented strides and accomplishments of 2023, we are poised to make this new year even better.
Happy New Year.