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Fair board approves new dates for 2010; CEO Anthony Leo retires
In a day filled with change, the Stanislaus County Fair Board decided to move the opening date of the traditional 10-day fair from late July to mid July and Chief Executive Officer Anthony Leo announced his retirement.
After several weeks of discussion, the 38th District Agricultural Association Board of Directors (Stanislaus County Fair Board) voted on Monday to set the dates of the 2010 Stanislaus County Fair for July 16 through July 25.
Later Monday night, in a closed-session meeting of the fair board, Leo announced his retirement effective Dec. 30.
“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.”
Leo has served as the CEO of the Stanislaus County Fair since February 1998. According to a statement released by the fair, the board will conduct an exhaustive, industry-wide search for Leo’s replacement with a goal of filling the CEO position by early spring 2010.  
The fair, which traditionally had begun at the end of July, was moved back a few weeks in response to a change in the California State Fair’s run dates, which are tentatively set for July 14 to Aug. 1, 2010.  
Several county fairs and other events in the region have also changed their dates to accommodate the state fair. Butler Amusements, the company that provides Stanislaus County Fair’s carnival rides, also provides rides for the State fair and several near-by county fairs. Butler was not available to provide rides for the Stanislaus County Fair during its traditional run dates due to the regional demand for carnival rides.
Butch Butler, CEO and president of Butler Amusements,  presented a carnival ride line-up to the Stanislaus County Fair board’s Commercial Advisory Committee on Monday afternoon. The proposed 2010 carnival rides were similar to the 2009 carnival, with a few new rides.
Richard Byrum, vice president of Butler Amusements, said at the meeting that Butler has duplicate and even triplicate rides. By pulling rides from other areas of the country, including the Pacific Northwest, Butler will be able to provide the same number of rides in the same categories as last year.
“As you well know, you are a very important part of our schedule,” Byrum told the board.
The board voted 7-0 to continue a three year contract with Butler, changing only the dates of the carnival.
Midway rides were not the only fair attraction that had to re-schedule around the new state fair dates. Many of the food vendors and entertainers who participate in the Stanislaus County Fair have now made commitments with the State fair.
“The State fair is not showing interest in others,” said Leo.
Many vendors who once participated in the Merced County Fair, which moved to June, will be available to fill vacancies in the 2010 Stanislaus County Fair.
Audience members at the Monday evening board meeting voiced concerns about FFA Agriculture Mechanics and Junior Dairy showers. Since the Stanislaus County Fair and State fair will overlap in 2010, some exhibitors will have to choose which fair they will enter.
“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.
Other dates that were considered for the 2010 Stanislaus County Fair would have conflicted with local school schedules, concert routes, the fourth of July holiday, and the Alameda County Fair. The board unanimously agreed that July 16 - July 25 would provide the least conflict for all involved.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.