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WSFA Presentation to Legislature

October 4, 2019 8:00AM
Take some time to view the presentation...
Legislative Committee on Economic Development & International Relations
"Fairs, Washingtons Largest Classroom -- Opportunities for Growth and Education in Rural Communities" with Tamara Hayes (SW WA Fair), Lori Lancaster (Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo), Anne Moneymaker (Central WA Fair), & Bill Ogg (Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days).

Central Washington State Fair Welcomes New Manager


The Board of Directors of the Central Washington Fair Association announced today that Kathy Kramer has been named President and CEO of the Central Washington State Fair, succeeding longtime President Greg Stewart, who is retiring from the organization after 48 years.

Kramer will take over the position on February 1, 2020.

“We are excited to have Kathy bring her experience, talents and enthusiasm to our Fair and to State Fair Park,” said Fair Association Board chairman Dave Hargreaves. “We are looking forward to having her help us grow into the future.”

Kramer has a diverse background in for-profit, government and non-profit organizations, holding key roles in the areas of management, strategic planning, sales & marketing, venue operations, production of major events and corporate sponsorship. For the past five years she was CEO of the Orange County Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa, California.Prior to that she was with Northlands in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where she was the Vice President of Business Operations. Previously, she was Deputy Director of the Phoenix Convention Center and Venues, Vice President of Convention Sales & Marketing for Century Link Center in Omaha, Midwest Regional Director of Sales & Marketing for Six Continents Hotels and Resorts and Director of Sales & Marketing for Harrah’s Casino and Hotel. She holds a CFE (Certified Facility Executive) from the International Association of Venue Managers and is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP).

“I am very excited and humbled to be joining the Central Washington Fair Association team as the new President and CEO,” Kramer said. “I am truly looking forward to working with the board, staff and community to move this organization to the next level.We have such a great opportunity to continue to build on the rich history of this organization and Yakima Valley to ensure that State Fair Park continues to be a vital part of the community for years to come.”

Greg Stewart joined the Fair in 1972 and took over as general manager the following year.In his time at the Fair it has grown from a 5-day to a 10-day Fair and has become the biggest family event in Eastern Washington.He will officially retire on December 31 of this year.

Longtime marketing coordinator named Fair director

Erin Gurtel is the new director of the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, being named after 14 years in marketing at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.

Gurtel, who grew up in the community of Black Diamond in south King County, said she’s never shown animals like many attendees at the Spokane County Interstate Fair, but she’s been around them most of her life.She said her family had a llama named Rocky, a pygmy goat, geese and chickens. Livestock still is and always will be a huge part of Spokane County’s fair, but Gurtel said she’s watching national fair trends, hoping to grow the other aspects of the event as well.

“People come here to create memories and experiences with their families and friends,” she said. “We want to keep building on that, and we want you to come to the fair and see added value for that ticket price.”

Gurtel said this year’s fair theme, “Pirates of the Carrots and Beans,” builds off one of the main performances during the fair, a pirate high-diving show. Gurtel said fair staff worked together as a group to come up with the theme.

Gurtel replaces Rich Hartzell, who worked at the fair for 13 years, spending eight as director.

“(Hartzell) made a positive impact in how things are run here, and I want to continue on with what he’s built and take it to the next level,” she said.

Before working in marketing and sales at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, Gurtel was marketing coordinator for the Downtown Spokane Partnership. She said when she first moved to the area about 19 years ago, Spokane residents didn’t spend as much time frequenting businesses downtown as they do now. While with the partnership, she promoted holidays and worked to improve the perception of the downtown atmosphere.

A 1997 graduate of Washington State University, Gurtel also has worked in organizing Seattle-area festivals such as the Fremont Fair and Bumbershoot.

Last year’s Interstate Fair broke attendance records, with 205,997 tickets sold over the 10-day event. Almost 41,000 of those were sold on the last day.

Gurtel said she is currently working as director, but still doing much of the marketing and event booking duties she had as marketing and sales manager. She was one of 24 candidates for the job as director, four of whom were interviewed for the position. She will be paid about $69,000 a year

For this year’s fair, Gurtel hopes to bring in new experiences and showcase old favorites such as agriculture, crafts and livestock. She said a few people already have stopped by the office to talk and learn about this year’s fair.“There’s a lot of people that the fair really means a lot to them,” she said.

The Year of Retirements

The Washington State Fair Industry has flourished with the participation of dedicated Managers who have given far more than salaries dictate. Two long term Managers, both having served as WSFA President's, announced their retirements this year.

In March, Rich Hartzell left the Spokane Interstate Fair after one of the most successful seasons in recent history. Please see the article attached:
King of the Fair

April saw an icon call for this year to be his last. Greg Stewart, General Manager and Board President, will oversee one more Fair at State Fair Park. Greg has been a powerful voice and force for Fairs in Washington. Greg Stewart remains a Past-President of the WSFA and received the WSFA Lifetime Achievement recognition. However, he not only shared his talents with Washington, but worked tirelessly for Fair through the WFA (Western Fairs Association) and the I.A.F.E. (International Association of Fairs and Expositions).

On Tuesday April 23, The Washington State Legislature will recognize Greg Stewart though a Senate Resolution!

Please read the attached articles:
Yakima Herald
Greg Stewart Biography
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