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.