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Tom Klingenmeier retires as Sawdust Festival general manager

Tom Klingenmeier retired after seven years as general manager of the Sawdust Art & Craft Festival. He would like to remain involved in a smaller capacity, such as managing security.
Tom Klingenmeier retired after seven years as general manager of the Sawdust Art & Craft Festival. He would like to remain involved in a smaller capacity, such as managing security.
(Photo by Cody Sparkuhl)

There is a changing of the guard at the Sawdust Art & Craft Festival.

Tom Klingenmeier, who led the organization as general manager for nine years, retired at the end of the 51st edition of the annual summer art festival, which welcomed its final customers of the season on Sept. 3.

“Tom’s greatest reason for retirement is to spend time with his family and his grandchildren in Las Vegas,” Sawdust marketing coordinator Franky Duschane wrote in an email. “Being that they are all in school athletics and Tom himself is a former coach, he wanted to attend their games.”

Klingenmeier has been affiliated with the Sawdust for 37 years, holding a variety of managerial roles in security and concessions, according to a letter Duschane wrote to Sawdust artists.

Klingenmeier was out of town visiting family and not immediately available for comment.

Natalie Haug, Sawdust’s operations director, was promoted to general manager, Duschane said in a follow-up phone interview.

Klingenmeier moved to Laguna in 1978. He wrote for the Laguna News-Post, covering the Laguna Beach Unified School District and City Council, Duschane said

He eventually secured a job as a journalism teacher at Laguna Beach High School and coached baseball and football.

His wife, Patti, entered the Sawdust as an exhibitor in 1980. A fellow coach asked Klingenmeier if he would be interested in working security at the Sawdust during the summer and Klingenmeier accepted the offer, according to Duschane’s letter to artists.

In 1984, Klingenmeier and Bob Perez started a photography business and applied to show their work at the Sawdust.

Klingenmeier exhibited a couple of more years until the Sawdust board decided it would not be appropriate to be both an exhibitor and staff member, the letter said. Klingenmeier decided to dedicate his summers to security and worked his way to general manager, beginning that role in 2008.

Klingenmeier wants to stay involved with the Sawdust, managing security during the upcoming Winter Fantasy, the letter said. Patti will continue as a Sawdust exhibitor specializing in polymer clay sculpture.

A retirement party is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Marine Room Tavern at 214 Ocean Ave. It is open to the public.

For more information on the Sawdust, visit sawdustartfestival.org.

bryce.alderton@latimes.com

Twitter: @AldertonBryce


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