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HELP WANTED: County fair board still looking for next CEO
The CDFA has awarded the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds with $115,000, which will be used to repair the fairgrounds’ sewer lift station and some sewer lines across the grounds (Journal file photo). - photo by Journal file photo
For most Stanislaus Country residents the county fair is only 10 short days of fun, food, and entertainment. For one man, however, the Stanislaus County Fair has been an 11 year experience that is shortly coming to an end. Anthony Leo, chief executive officer of the 38th District Agricultural Association (Stanislaus County Fair) announced his Dec. 1 retirement earlier this year. The board is now accepting applications for the fair’s next CEO.
The application, which can be found on the fair’s Web site under the “employment” tab, lists the job as a full-time salaried position. Benefits include medical, dental, vision, and life insurance. Yearly salary for the position is between $83,064 and $98,844. Few Stanislaus County residents would turn down a job with that much security, especially in a time when over 16 percent are unemployed.
Leo said that as of Monday evening there were no applications submitted, but the application window just opened earlier this week. The Stanislaus County Fair Board discussed the application process at their Nov. 16 meeting. They agreed that the application should be open to the general public, rather than just current fair industry employees.
“We hope that there will be a lot of qualified applicants for this position,” Leo said.
The Stanislaus County Fair CEO oversees the operations of not only the annual fair, but a year-round staff of 12 and a 72-acre facility with six buildings. There are also dozens of non-fair events that happen every year on the grounds. The 10-day fair alone draws over 220,000 visitors to the fair grounds every year.
According to the fair’s job announcement, potential applicants should have experience in business administration, public administration, marketing, public relations, communication, entertainment or related fields. They should also have knowledge in a wide range of areas, from fundraising to facilities maintenance. Leo said that a bachelor’s degree isn’t explicitly required for the CEO position.
“They’ll entertain work experience in lieu of a bachelor’s degree,” Leo said.
Leo worked as CEO for both the Merced County Spring Fair in Los Banos and the Merced County Fair before he applied for the Stanislaus County Fair CEO position. After a written screening, an in-person interview, and an interview in front of the board, he wasn’t hired for the position.
“They actually hired someone else when I applied,” Leo said.
After one year, however, that person left the CEO position and the board contacted Leo.
“I came in second so they called me and asked if I was still interested in the position,” he said.
The application process for the new CEO will be much like what Leo went through. The fair’s selection committee will evaluate each applicant’s personal resume and application. The most qualified applicants will be referred to the full board of directors for further selection and possible personal interviews. The final candidates will be interviewed by the full board of directors in an open public meeting. The board hopes to select the new CEO on or soon after Feb. 22.
Leo said that he’s happy about what the fair has accomplished during his employment, but he feels like it’s time to retire.
“I’ve had the best seat in the house for almost 30 years,” he said.
Applications are available for download on the employment page of, the CEO job announcement is under a link called “announcement.” Mailed applications can be requested at 668-1333 or can be picked up in person in the fair office at 900 N. Broadway Ave. Applications along with a resume and five references are due by mail (received, not post marked) by 5 p.m. on Jan. 19, 2010.
The fair may also be hiring a new director of communications. Pennie Rorex, who has worked at the fair for the past eight years, announced on Tuesday that she will be taking a job as the associate vice president of corporate communication and marketing at Emanuel Medical Center. Her last day in the fair office will be Dec. 17.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.