The new president of the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair Board is hardly new to the fair, which officially opens today.

Mark Case, who has served on the board for 17 years, steps into the top leadership role to oversee the county fair’s 60th annual week-long event.

The easy-going Case, 56, projects an unpretentious manner, said Larry Fisher, who he replaces as board president.

The woman who leads Bartholomew County’s 4-H programs agrees. But Purdue Extension Cooperative director Elisabeth Smith says she sees another admirable quality in Case.

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“He’s collaborative,” Smith said of Case, who was raised in and still resides in the the Hope area. “Mark always wants to get the opinions of other people and work together as a team.”

Best known as Bartholomew County’s animal control officer, Case is the type of leader who isn’t easily shaken by the unexpected, Fisher said.

“I think he’ll be able to handle any controversial situation, and we do have those at the fair _ every year,” Fisher said.

For example, Fisher said he angered people two years ago when dangerous weather over a number of days prompted him to cancel some fair events and activities.

While the weather was cooperative last year, fair board members were kept busy answering a constant stream of inquiries about an upcoming appearance by now-retired race car driver Tony Stewart.

A number of Stewart’s fans became angry when Fisher and other board members were unable to provide the auto legend’s exact arrival and departure times.

From his perspective, Case sees such challenges and controversies as just part of life, he said.

“Sometimes, you get the bear — and sometimes, the bear gets you,” Case said.

Several months after Fisher confirmed he was stepping down after 10 years as fair board president, Case was chosen as his successor during the 4-H Fair Board’s annual meeting in January.

Other officers serving this year are: Rick Trimpe, vice president; Susie Arnholt, secretary; and Tim Shoaf, treasurer.

While Case jokes he’s president only because “nobody else wanted the job,” Fisher said his replacement is uniquely qualified, including serving the past five years as fair board vice president.

However, it’s the two-for-one combination of Case and his wife, Columbus veterinarian Dr. Brooke Finke Case, that creates a extraordinary asset for the entire 4-H community, Smith and Fisher both said.

Besides serving as the fair’s veterinarian, Brooke Case also is the Bartholomew County 4-H Council president.

The couple’s mutual love for animals is a plus for the 4-H organization, Fisher said.

For example, Case is working on a project that will result in a permanent barn for goats instead of housing them under tents, he said.

When Fisher announced his retirement, many fair board members described the extensive list of contacts he had accumulated during his many years of public service as invaluable.

But that doesn’t mean Case has come into his new position at a disadvantage, Smith said.

Not only does Case have his own contacts, but his collaborative nature makes him a natural at networking with others to find any resource he might need, Smith said.

Case’s 17 years on the board far exceeds his lone year as a 4-H member, which surprises others around him.

“He has such a love of the program, believes in it with all his heart, and sees the good it can do,” Smith said.

Case’s wife grew up with 4-H, but the new fair board president gives most of the credit for his commitment to the program to his adult children, daughter Shelby and son Tanner, who are both tenured 4-H members.

“My kids just kept telling me I should join the 4-H Board, so I finally did — in 2000,” Mark Case said. “I’m still here today.”

Mark Case

Age: 56

Occupation: Bartholomew County animal control officer

Education:  Hauser High School, Class of 1978

Residence: West of Hope.

Past fair board activities: Vendor manager, dairy superintendent, immediate past vice president.

Family:  Wife, Columbus veterinarian and Bartholomew County 4-H Council President Dr. Brooke Finke Case. Two children, daughter Shelby and son Tanner.

Coming up at the fair

TODAY

8:30 a.m.: Lil’ Wrangler Poultry Show, Pavilion

9 a.m.: 4-H Poultry Show, Pavilion

9 a.m.: Open Class Flower Show, Family Arts Building

5 p.m.: Midway opens, marking official opening of the fair

5 p.m.: Lil’ Hands on the Farm, 4-H Community Building, Family Arts and Commercial Buildings

7 p.m.: Night Owl Country Band, David Boll Theatre

7 p.m.: Ferguson Road, Farm Bureau Building

7 p.m.: Lucas Oil Pro Pulling Series for truck and tractor, Grandstand

8 p.m.: 4-H Watermelon Relay, Horse Arena

SATURDAY

8 a.m.: 4-H Horse & Pony Western Halter & Performance Show, Horse Arena

9 a.m.: Lil’ Wranglers Goat Show, Pavilion

9 a.m.: 4-H Goat Show, Pavilion

5 p.m.: Midway opens

5 p.m.: Lil Hands on the Farm opens

5 p.m.: Musical talent of Bailey Meyer, David Boll Theatre

6 p.m.: Let’s Bake a Pie Contest, Family Arts Building

6 p.m.: Pedal Tractor Pull, east of Farm Bureau Building.

7 p.m.: Elvis impersonator Ron Hobbs, David Boll Theatre

7 p.m.: Demolition Derby, grandstand

7:30 p.m.: Wild Azalia Blue, Farm Bureau Building

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.