Keith Lauer has been chosen as the grand marshal for the 2019 Central Kansas Free Fair parade in Abilene.
The long-time 4-H member and leader and lifelong resident of Dickinson County was in 4-H as a youth, served as a 4-H community leader and a beef leader, was open class beef assistant superintendent at the fair for 20 years, and was on the fair board from 1989 to 1994, serving as president in 1993-94.
He also served as a member and chairman of the County Extension Board and provided trophies for the 4-H champion steer and heifer for many years.
Born in 1936, his parents, Clarence and Alma Lauer, were faithful fair attendees. Keith started 4-H at the age of 11 and one of his first projects, a purebred shorthorn heifer, “became my life vocation,” he said.
Lauer began his shorthorn herd with several breeding heifers. His uncle, Milton Nagely, was also instrumental in Lauer’s cattle work. Lauer traveled with Nagely to purebred shows and because of his influence, got started in registered cattle.
The CKFF was even instrumental in him dating his wife, Nadene. She also was a 4-H exhibitor and it was at the fair that Lauer screwed up the courage to ask her out.
“I stood there shaking,” he laughed, referring to their first conversation, “because she was the daughter of the county superintendent of public instruction.”
They married in 1956 and will celebrate their 63rd anniversary on August. 5.
At one point, he and Nadene had 200 head of purebred registered shorthorns, working under the name of Lauer Polled Shorthorns. In 2017, they were honored with the dedication of the shorthorn shows at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. They hosted the World Shorthorn Cattle Tour when it was in the United States in 2004.
The CKFF is special to Lauer.
“I’ve had a lot of fun with the fair,” he said. “I love it.”
He has rarely missed a fair parade except for a few times when he and Nadene were on a trip.
The couple has a daughter, Rita Yoder, and three grandsons. Rita’s years as a 4-H member influenced her decision to become an extension home economist.
The parade theme is “There’s Magic in the Air at the Central Kansas Free Fair.”
Keith will lead the parade when it goes through Abilene on Thursday, August 1. The parade starts at 4 p.m. at Seventh Street and Buckeye and proceeds south to Third Street and west to Washington Street.
For more information on the fair, visit the website at www.CKFF.net.