Controversy Rises at Fair Board Meeting (video)

Fair Board Members at Hulsienda Building, Wednesday, January 20th
Fair board members met at the Hulsienda Building on Wednesday, January 20.

IMPERIAL – Tempers flared once again at the Imperial County Fair Board meeting January 20 as the Junior Livestock Foundation and the board wrestled with matters still unsettled. Starting the meeting off during the public comment period, Imperial Valley resident Sarah Reece stood before the board to relay a heated conversation Imperial County Fair CEO Theresa Garcia had with an unidentified person that was overheard by Reece and her son while waiting in Garcia’s office.

As per County Fair Board bylaws, public comment speakers are limited to five minutes and no debate by the board is permitted on public comments. In addition, no action is permitted at the time of the comment as law requires formal public notice prior to any action on a docket item.



Begin video transcript:

Sarah Reece: Hi, my name is Sarah Reece and I am a third generation, actually my children are third generation showmen at this fair in the Imperial Valley. It started with my father, myself, and now my children. With all due respect, ladies and gentlemen of the board, I have a huge concern on behalf of myself and the children of this fair. On January 9, 2016 at approximately 11 am after the “No Show, No Go” meeting, myself and my son Ryan walked into the fair office to confirm dates and times of his mandatory community service. While my son and I were waiting to be seen and for someone to come up front, we overheard some shouting and yelling from the back. And it was some very unpleasant things, so forgive me if I use the word “expletive” instead of the actual word, I do not want to offend anyone. We heard a woman’s voice yelling from the back room. “Expletive these kids. The fair only makes 7.5% profit and wastes 95% of my expletive time.”

She proceeded to yell, “Why would someone want to check permits and why wouldn’t we want our kids to work at the fair? These kids are privileged brats that don’t give blank about their buyers.” She went on to state, “Our kids are dumb and we wonder why kids from India take all of our jobs.”

I, at which time, yelled “hello” so someone would know we were out front. At which, Miss Theresa Garcia came out and I let her know that I heard everything in the back and she proceeded to try to tell to me not to get it twisted and she was talking about her school districts. I found that very hard to believe since fair money was involved. I believe that a person in this power needs to have our best children’s interests at heart and not to be allowed to call them dumb, even if it’s behind closed doors. Personal beliefs are just that, personal beliefs. They need to be kept personal. Our children are involved with 4-H, FFA, Grange, Independent, whatever organization it is to be at this fair. They are allowed to grow, flourish, learn new opportunities, experience new leaders, show their animals and have fun with dignity and respect without being called names. These are some things my son remembers the most: they waste 95% of my time, I don’t give an expletive about my buyer, I am stupid.

Thank you for your time, if you have any questions I will leave my cell phone number.

Jim Hamilton (board director): This did not come from a board member… (inaudible)?

Sarah Reece: Miss Theresa Garcia. Thank you. If you would like, I could have my twelve-year-old son up before you too. I chose to keep him out of it tonight, because I don’t want him to be involved in adult politics for overhearing the wrong conversation.

End of video transcript.

In the regular part of the meeting, CEO Garcia gave a 2016 fair update, in which she reported 400 kids attended the “No Go, No Show” event which she stated was a good turn out since the mandatory meeting began three years before. She also reminded attendees the meeting February 1 is the last day to enter as a fair exhibitor, and forms are available electronically online.

Garcia announced that because it was January, the board needed to decide to accept the delegation of authority and to have worker’s compensation for the directors and for the coordinated volunteers. President Joe Montenegro explained  the delegation of authority is when the board  gives the CEO, Theresa Garcia, authority to negotiate contracts that do not exceed a one-year term without further authorization from the board of directors. Agreements will be submitted to the board of directors and approved by the board of directors.  The motion was approved unanimously.

Montenegro also stated the Junior Livestock Foundation (JLF) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was still heavy on his mind, but clarified that everything they do is dependent on that MOU being drawn up, which to date, it is not. Montenegro stated there are a lot of things that even they want to do (with the JLF), however they cannot do anything without an MOU in place. Therefore, the board rejected the Junior Livestock Foundation’s offer to purchase this year’s livestock shavings for $15,000 in exchange for advertisement, because currently, no MOU exists between the two organizations.

There was back and forth discussion between JLF members and the board concerning the JLF’s formal request for the fair’s general ledger that they say they have not received. The board agreed, as did Garcia, that she would try to get that finished and sent to the JLF.

This year’s Imperial County Fair begins on February 26 and runs until March 6.


  1. When i was 18 yeaes old i tripped while showing my 9th and final pig in the arena i ruptured a disc in my back and broke a disc that a year earlier i had to have fused. The fair board put my health at risk saying i had to show my pig later that day for showmanship even though i had already shown in meat class. The judge begged the fair board to please allow me to not show he could tell from how well my pig behaved that I clearly worked her and did not neglect her, but instead i litterally had to be carried through the arena in severe pain because I couldn’t walk. The fair board needs to get their minds right and realize that they have a huge impact on the children showing. Even if i wasnt 18 i would have never showed again for the imperial county fair not because i dont love pigs but because i can’t trust the fair board to put me first ahead of their wallets.

  2. This has been going on for years. The Fair Board acts as a god overseeing the “Fair” and all things “Fair”, while the young people of 4-H, FFA and others are left floundering to try to go by the rules which seem to change as fair-time gets nearer. I was a 4-H mother and leader for over ten years, so I know of what I speak. My hat’s off to Sarah Reece for her up-front statements to the IV EXPO board, but I’m afraid it’s an uphill battle since these people are political appointnees. Thank you Desert Review for getting this out in a public forum.

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