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DeWayne Bontrager named grand marshal of 4-H Fair Parade

DeWayne Bontrager has been named the 2014 Grand Marshal of the LaGrange County 4-H Fair Parade for his continued service to the LaGrange County 4-H Fair.

DeWayne Bontrager of Topeka began his involvement with the LaGrange County 4-H Fair as a seven-year member of the Shipshewana 4-H Club in 1945.

During his 4-H career he was a member of the Junior Leaders in which one year he served as co-leader with Dave Yoder as no adults had volunteered to lead the club. In 1950 he was a member of the Shipshewana Dairy Judging team representing LaGrange County for the National Dairy Judging at the Texas State Fair in Dallas, Texas. The team placed third out of 700 teams. In 1956 he became a volunteer with the 4-H program as an Adult Dairy Leader with the LaGrange Holstein Breeders. Bontrager continued to stay active in the dairy industry and in 1963 was awarded the State Dairy Award and he and his wife, Mertice, received the Pure Milk Northern Indiana Young Dairy Couple Award.

 He was elected to the 4-H Fair Board in 1967 and was elected fair president in 1969. During his term as president the following improvements were made to the fairgrounds: Area was cleared with the help of the LaGrange County REMC and the initial camping area was established; the horse and pony arena was built; the first horse barn was built; replacing the tents that were used; with the help of the LaGrange Trottingbred Association the race track was enlarged to its present size; the swine barn was built, replacing the tents that were used; the dairy barn (now used for the started calf project) was built, replacing the tents; and LaGrange County purchased the acreage on the east side (parking area) of the fairgrounds and the fair board entered into a 99-year lease for the use of the property.

Throughout his business and volunteer career Bontrager has served as president of the LaGrange County Extension Board, was elected to the LaGrange County Council, served as a crop insurance adjuster with the USDA, was a representative with Farm Credit Services, served as the Topeka Clerk-Treasurer and has served on various positions with his church, Gideon International and the Lions Club.

He resides in Topeka and married Mertice Yoder in 1955. They raised two sons, Rod and Terry, both 10-year 4-H members. Terry currently serves on the LaGrange County 4-H Fair Board. Mertice served as a team leader with the Topeka 4-H Club so DeWayne volunteered as well.