The recipient of the Mary Hopkins Award at this year’s “Beef, 50 years strong!” Beef Empire Days event was involved with the show from the beginning.
Harley Foulks was charged with managing the show’s financial records when it first started up in 1969. He went to church with the show’s founder, John Dohogne, at the time and managed the church’s finances, he said.
When legendary cattle feeder Earl Brookover signed a check to support what was then vaguely acknowledged as a “livestock show,” he turned it over to Foulks, notifying him that he had been delegated the financial responsibilities of the show by Dohogne.
Now 90, Foulks said he was “kind of surprised” when he learned he had been chosen as the recipient of the award for the show’s 50th Anniversary. “I felt honored to be picked for that,” he said.
He noted that he hasn’t been directly involved with the show since 1991, but said he plans to pay more attention to the show’s happenings from here on out.
Beef Empire Days historian and ex officio board member Ray Purdy said the award is presented to someone “very influential in the beef industry and specifically Beef Empire Days.” Because of Foulks’ role in the earliest Beef Empire Days show and his subsequent positions as a show board member, board chairman and president in the ‘70s, the board decided to recognize him at the show’s 50th Anniversary.
In 1967, Foulks worked at Producers Packing Company in Garden City with Dohogne, who was the general manager, Purdy said. When the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce’s agriculture committee broached the idea of a local livestock show to promote the beef industry, Dohogne and Brookover led the way.
Foulks remained in charge of the show’s financial records until the first Beef Empire Days board of directors was elected. He is credited with designing the Beef Empire Days beef carcass logo still used today.
Today, few among the show’s founding members are still alive.
Foulks’ agricultural accomplishments go beyond the scope of Beef Empire Days.
He was born and raised on a farm in Ford County’s Concord Township and graduated from Colorado State University in Fort Collins with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, before going on to hold many positions in the ag industry over the years. He worked in Ford County’s ACSC office and was office manager at the Dodge City Cooperative, assistant manager at the Garden City Co-op and general manager at the Sublette Cooperative.
In 1990, Foulks received the Farmland Industries Dreyer Award honoring agricultural excellence at a time when he worked abroad in countries such as Slovakia to assist farmers in their conversion from collective to cooperative farms. He was inducted into the Kansas Cooperative Hall of Fame in 2009.
Foulks is also a lifetime member of the National Cooperative Business Association and a past president of the Kansas Cooperative Council.