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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Troubled Fair Names Interim Manager : Antelope Valley: The retired Sonoma-Marin official will oversee the financially strapped operation while a permanent administrator is sought.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Directors of the troubled Antelope Valley Fair, who have grappled with an $650,000 budget deficit and the loss of their chief administrator in recent months, have selected an interim manager to oversee operations at least through March.

Beverly Wilson, retired manager of the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Northern California, will help get the Lancaster-based fair operations back on track while board members continue their search for a permanent manager, Fair Board President Charla Abbott said Friday.

“She was our No. 1 choice because of her reputation and her strength in the financial end,” Abbott said.

These fiscal skills will be important because the fair ended 1994 with a $650,000 budget deficit, attributed partly to overspending on maintenance and improvements at the fairground. Fair officials also said they overestimated the amount of money they would bring in.

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The fairground is the site of an 11-day festival each summer and special events year around. Its operations are overseen by a nine-member board appointed by the governor.

Efforts to improve the Antelope Valley Fair’s finances were complicated by the resignation in October of the general manager, Bruce Latta, who was hired for a similar post in Riverside County.

An interim manager who succeeded Latta left in November, and Fair Board members missed the Nov. 21 deadline to submit a 1995 budget to the state’s Division of Fairs and Expositions.

Initially, the Antelope Valley board was given an extension until January. But Emma Suarez, a spokeswoman for the state division, said another budget extension was granted recently, allowing the Antelope Valley Fair to wait until a new permanent manager is hired.

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Abbott said her board eliminated last year’s deficit by drawing on reserve funds and has put together a tentative budget for the current year. She said Wilson will probably help fine-tune the spending plan when her stint as interim manager begins Jan. 23.

Wilson will also help the board begin planning the next fair, which begins in late August and runs through Labor Day.

At the same time, the board will accept applications through Feb. 28 for the permanent administrator’s job. “I expect by the middle of March we will be able to name a new manager,” Abbott said.

She does not believe the recent problems will affect the next fair.

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“It won’t have an impact,” Abbott said. “I expect our fair will be better than in the past. This has probably brought to focus the need to go back to basics and be a community-based fair.”


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