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Big Fresno Fair Board Selects King as New CEO



Lauri King is the new chief executive officer of The Big Fresno Fair. (Big Fresno Fair)
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A woman will lead the Big Fresno Fair for the first time since its founding in 1884.

The fair’s board of directors announced Tuesday morning that it had unanimously promoted Lauri King to chief executive officer.

King, who has 22 years of experience in the fair industry, had teamed with Stacy Rianda to lead the fair since September 2020 after John Alkire retired as CEO.

“Lauri is a proven leader who is well-respected by our board, her employees, and fair partners,” said fair board president Chuck Riojas in a news release. “Her work ethic, team-first focus, agricultural background, and fair industry knowledge are extraordinary.”

King and Rianda saw the fair through the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown and transitioned it to a drive-through event. In 2021, they teamed up to lead an in-person event that attracted nearly 600,000 people.

In June, the Ventura County Fair hired Rianda as its new CEO.

King’s Lifelong Love of Animals and Fairs

King grew up on a ranch run by her family for five generations in Templeton and showed animals at the California Mid-State Fair.

While attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, she worked at the Cal Poly Western Bonanza Livestock Show and the California Mid-State Fair. She graduated from Cal Poly with a bachelor’s in animal science with a minor in ag communications and business. She then joined the Big Fresno Fair.

“At nine years old, showing animals at the California Mid-State Fair I fell in love with what fairs stood for – how they celebrated agriculture and the best of the community,” King said. “That appreciation has multiplied in my two decades at The Big Fresno Fair, as we have evolved beyond just an annual tradition. Our fair is an essential part of our community – a source of education, cultural celebration, and positive economic impact.”

This year’s fair is scheduled for Oct. 5-16.


Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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