The Orange County Fair Board has promoted Jerome Hoban, vice president of operations, to the fairgrounds chief executive officer.
Hoban, 38, will take over as interim CEO for Steven Beazley on Tuesday. He will take over the position permanently pending a background check.
[This version clarifies that the position is an interim one for now.]
"What I liked about Jerome is he has institutional knowledge of the fair history," said Fair Board member Stan Tkaczyk. "He started from the ground up and has a real passion. I see it in the individual energy in how he presents himself, how he talks about projects he's involved in."
Beazley, who has spent much of his adult life working for the fairgrounds, will retire four years to the day from when he was appointed CEO on May 1, 2008.
Hoban, an Orange County native, was a member of 4-H growing up and worked with fair livestock in the summers.
"I was in the middle of an urban setting but doing all this agricultural stuff," he said. "It gets in your blood. You see what it does for you. The fair became like a home to me, and I think it does for a lot of people."
Hoban eventually was hired on to manage the Centennial Farm, a job which helped pay his way through college. He earned a bachelor's degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and an executive MBA from Pepperdine University.
When fairgrounds officials narrowed the list of potential CEOs to five, Hoban's combination of local roots and academic feats set him apart.
"He has a wonderful blend of history, background and heritage, along with a really solid education," Beazley said.
With the Pacific Amphitheater construction on the horizon and the fair's master plan set to expire a few years from now, officials said, it's time for someone to let the dust settle and cement the fair's progress.
"We've been on such a fast pace, it's time now to utilize the assets for the community rather than just get in our own way with construction, and there's nothing wrong with that," Hoban said. "We've all been working hard and it's time to enjoy these things at the fairgrounds."