COSTA MESA — The Orange County Fair Board decided Thursday to begin a nationwide, 45-day search for its next chief executive.
President and CEO Steve Beazley announced last week that he was retiring after four years in the top position in order to pursue new professional interests. He began doing seasonal work with the fair 37 years ago and has been a full-time executive for 14 years.
Beazley, 49, said his last day depends on when the board successfully finds a replacement, allowing for a smooth transition of leadership. The annual summer fair celebrated its highest attendance to date and record revenue in nearly every category.
Residents at the meeting urged the board to look for local executives first, to fall in line with this year's fair theme of "Home Sweet Home."
Noting the busy months ahead as the city looks to begin Pacific Amphitheatre remodeling and prepare for the summer fair, the board opted to delay hashing out a five-year business plan until after the summer, when a new CEO should be at the helm.
The board also voted unanimously to expand its Foster Family Night beyond the inaugural event last year. This year the July event will host 25,000 attendees, a mix of foster children and their parents, with everything from admission to food to games and rides free.
More than 8,200 families attended it last year. Costs are covered by the Centennial Farm Foundation and community money and donated time by fair vendors. The Fair Board approved tacking on a $1 surcharge on Pacific Amphitheatre tickets this year to help cover some of the cost.
The Fair Board also chose to move forward with partnering with O.C. Market Place operator Tel Phil to cross-promote the weekend swap meet and annual fair. The two are expected to come back to the board in February with details of the plan.