Bishop native Sally Symons, who has been an active participant in activities at the Tri-County Fairgrounds since she was 9 years old, has been hired as its new CEO.
Symons will begin work March 1, taking over a post that has been vacant for almost two years following the departure of Jim Tatum in November 2012.
“The Board of Directors for the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fair is pleased to announce that we have hired Sally Symons as our new Chief Executive Officer,” Board President Maria Kemp said Thursday. “Sally is a dynamic, lifetime local who grew up attending this Fair and is passionate about preserving its traditions while working to expand its appeal and offerings.”
The board had formed a subcommittee earlier this year to review candidates for the CEO position and on Wednesday, Feb. 19, made its final decision.
Symons was born and raised in Bishop, graduating from Bishop High in 1987 and earning a Bacheler’s degree in Arts and Political Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1991 before returning to the Eastern Sierra to raise a family.
She said her experience with the Tri-County Fairgrounds began at a young age when she started participating in local 4-H Clubs and showing at the Junior Livestock Show and Auction.
“I’ve showed pretty much all of the species of livestock and pretty much all of my best childhood memories are at those fairgrounds,” Symons said Friday. “And I want to make sure all those great traditions continue.”
Symons said she is planning to tap into those memories and work towards making the fairgrounds a social and cultural hub in Inyo County.
She said that upon returning to Bishop as an adult, her work as a 4-H leader and with the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce reintroduced her to the fairgrounds.
“Once my kids were old enough and showed an interest, we got them involved with 4-H,” Symons said. “It’s so important for this community, and for the youth of this community, to have the fairgrounds.”
Symons will hit the ground running next month, with three of the fairgrounds’ largest events just over the horizon: Mule Days in May, the California High School Rodeo Association State Finals in June and the Junior Livestock Show and Auction in July.
“I’m super comfortable with the fairgrounds as a whole,” Symons said. “I’ve volunteered or helped run almost all of the major events at the fairgrounds and what I want to do is get the fair more involved in the community.”
Symons’ enthusiasm and goals are part of the reason why fellow leaders like Kemp say they are looking forward to working with Symons. “Ms. Symons is full of fresh and exciting ideas for our Fair as well as our community. We are lucky to have her on board and look forward to a bright future here at the fairgrounds,” Kemp said.
Symons said she has some ideas for the fairgrounds as a whole, such as marketing the Tallman Pavilion and other facilities at the fairgrounds as a meeting space for local clubs and organizations, or as a gathering place for celebrations, parties and events.
“I want to rebuild the trust and relationship with the community, we do have some things cooking and in the works, a couple great new ideas for the Fair itself” and fairgrounds in general, Symons said.
For more on Symons and the plans and ideas she is working on with the Tri-County Fair Board, see next Thursday’s edition of The Inyo Register.