IMPERIAL — California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta Chief Executive Officer Theresa Garcia unofficially notified the fair board in June last year that the 2016 fair would be her last.
Garcia, who has led the fair for the past eight years, made it official Wednesday. Her final day will be September 30. “I have really come to love this fair, this board, the staff and the people of Imperial Valley,” Garcia said. “But after eight years of being away from my home and family, it’s time.”
Garcia is a veteran CEO of several California fairs and she has nearly 30 years of experience in the fair industry. She is a former manager of the San Mateo County Fair and the Santa Barbara County Fair and has contracted her services with a number of fairs around the state —including the California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta — since 2002. She will continue to work with fairs around the state.
Garcia was the fair time auditor from 2002-2008. She agreed to become the CEO in 2008.
“To a person on this board, we are very proud of where we are today and credit Theresa’s leadership for those accomplishments,” said fair board President Joe Montenegro. “Our fair has not only survived, but thrived during a time when state fairs up and down the state have either closed or scaled back their operations.”
Montenegro noted, “Through Theresa’s expertise, our fair’s unrestricted reserves have grown from a negative in 2006 to over almost 80 percent of our annual operating expenditures in 2015.”
He noted that reserves were 113 percent in 2014, but the fair invested in capital improvements such as a much-needed paving project last year. Fair revenues have increased over 30 percent from 2008-2016.
“We are one of the few fairs in the state that has such a healthy reserve and have invested funds for capital improvements to the facility,” Montenegro said.
In addition to the paving, the Casa de Manana, Plaza de la Culturas and Hulsienda buildings have been upgraded. Major improvements also were made to fair programming with added attractions such as Doc’s Farm, and the Redneck Rodeo. The fair has also broken annual records both in attendance and ticket presale revenue.
“When she talked to us in early 2015, Theresa mentioned she wants to spend more time with her family in Northern California,” Montenegro said. “Our loss will be their gain. But she assures us that she will continue her work with fairs and offer her help through the transition of a new CEO.”