The Stanislaus County Fair Board of Directors were forced to accepted two major changes to the traditional Stanislaus County Fair held in Turlock.
Monday evening the Stanislaus County Fair Board of Directors voted to change the traditional late July fair dates to mid-July and was given notice of 11 year veteran CEO Tony Leo’s retirement.
Fair Dates Changed
The Stanislaus County Fair will arrive a little earlier than in the past, with a mid-July fair planned for July 16 – 25, 2010.
The Fair Board was faced with the decision to change the date because the state fair moved their August fair to July 2010, overlapping with Turlock’s traditional late July fair. The state fair’s change created scheduling conflicts for some exhibitors, concessionaires, entertainers and even the carnival. Turlock’s carnival operator, Butler Amusements, also provides rides for the state fair.
The Board of Directors was challenged to select 2010 fair dates that would result in the least amount of negative impact on all involved. The conclusion was that July 16-25 would have the least amount of negative impact.
“The Board had to deeply examine what was in the best interest for the majority of those involved in our county fair,” said Pennie Rorex, spokesperson for the Stanislaus County Fair. “With the dates set, we have already started planning for 2010 and are confident that the mid-July fair will be great fun for the entire family.”
The 2010 fair theme is “Flavors of the Valley.” The theme will highlight food and beverage products that are processed in the Central Valley. The 2010 fair will also feature the highly-popular Rainforest Adventure that debuted in 2009. Also planned for 2010 are10 nights of free celebrity concerts included with admission, nightly metal-mashing motorsports, a total of five stages of live entertainment, upwards of 30,000 local exhibits and over 1,750 animals.
CEO Tony Leo Retires
On Monday night, in a closed session with his Board of Directors, Leo announced his retirement effective December 30, 2009. “For almost 30 years I have had the pleasure to work with some very dedicated and hard-working fair employees and some very astute directors. For that I am so grateful,” said Leo. “But to all things there is a season.”
“Tony has been one of the best CEOs I have had the pleasure of working with over the years,” said Dale Butler, president of the Stanislaus County Fair board of directors. “He is a man of few words and much substance. He has always had the best interest of our fair and the fair industry at heart. On behalf of the board and staff we wish him and his wife Rosemary a well-deserved retirement. Tony will be sorely missed.”
The fair board will conduct an exhaustive, industry-wide search for Leo’s replacement. The board’s goal is to fill the CEO position by early spring 2010.
Leo has served as the CEO of the Stanislaus County Fair since February 1998. Under his leadership the fair has achieved financial solvency. Leo was committed to building a strong family-friendly environment for the Stanislaus County Fair. To that end, the Stanislaus County Fair received a first place award for “Best Overall Children’s Program” from the Western Fairs Association in 2008.
WFA is a non-profit organization that represents 130 of the finest fairs in North America.
Leo’s county fair career began in 1980 when he was hired to serve as CEO of the Merced County Spring Fair in Los Banos. In 1983, he was hired to lead the Merced County Fair in Merced where he served as CEO for 14-1/2 years.
During his career Leo has served as a well-respected member of several committees for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, including the Advisory Committee on Fairs and the Audit Committee for California Fairs. In addition, he is the past vice-chair of the California State Fair Advisory Committee of County Fairs.
Presently, Leo serves as a member Turlock Convention and Visitors Bureau and as a member of the Turlock Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee. In 2001, he was named Agriculture Leader of the Year by the Turlock Chamber of Commerce.