TURLOCK — Christopher Borovansky doesn't start work until next month, but the Stanislaus County Fair's new chief executive officer visited Monday to meet with his board of directors and attend Turlock's ag lunch.
Borovansky was chief executive of the Jackson County Fair in Central Point, Ore. for 21 years and managed the Sonoma County Fair for seven years.
He and his wife plan to sell their Oregon home and move to Stanislaus County with their two 5-year-olds. An older daughter attends the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
He took time Monday to speak with The Bee:
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Q. How are fairs different in Oregon?
A. Actually, they're a lot alike. Fairs everywhere are celebrations of their community. But in Oregon, they're not funded by the state, and four years ago the county eliminated its funding to the fair.
Q. Given California's budget woes, are there concerns with funding here?
A. There's always a concern, but the important thing is to run the fair like a business. And the Stanislaus County Fair is in a strong financial situation.
Q. The California State Fair's dates (July 14-Aug. 1) overlap with the Stanislaus County Fair (July 16-25). Will it be a challenge to keep people local?
A. State fairs are animals unto themselves. But with a county fair, especially one like this one, people are vested in it. I'm not sure you're going to see a lot of people choose to attend the state fair over the local fair.
Q. What will you do to keep drawing people to the fair in a struggling economy?
A. It's a social activity that brings whole different demographics together. Fairs need to position themselves as a value. You're going to spend money, but I defy you to find a better value.
Q. What changes or additions would you like to bring to the fair?
A. I'm pretty smart. This is not a reclamation project at all. The important thing is (former fair CEO) Tony Leo's relationships. I've got to mine him for all he's worth. The last thing I want is to be seen as an expert from the outside. I need to be a sponge these next few weeks.
Q. What's your favorite part of the fair?
A. It's going to sound corny, but watching people smile. My first memory is sitting in the back of my parents' station wagon, watching fireworks at the California State Fair. It's nice to see different generations making memories like that.
Q. Anything else?
A. It's going to be a great fair.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.