Fair board appoints new president, vice presidents

Del Mar Fairgrounds
(San Diego Union-Tribune)

G. Joyce Rowland will serve as the new president of the Del Mar Fairgrounds board of directors, following a board vote on Dec. 14.

Board members Richard Valdez, who served as the president for the last two and a half years, and Frederick Schenk, who also previously served a two-and-a-half-year-term as president, will be vice presidents.

“It’s a wonderful combination of history on the board, which we need at this current time, and the future,” said outgoing board Vice President Lisa Barkett, who made the motion to install the new set of leaders.

The fair board, which consists of nine members who are appointed by the governor, oversee operations at the state-owned fairgrounds. The positions are unpaid.

Rowland, who lives in Rancho Santa Fe, was appointed in March 2020. She worked at Sempra Energy from 1998 to 2019, where she served as senior vice president, chief culture officer, chief human resources officer and chief administrative officer. She also worked for Pacific Enterprises and Southern California Gas Company.

Schenk, an attorney from Carmel Valley, has been on the board since 2011.

Valdez, an attorney who joined the fair board in 2014, mentioned the challenges the board has faced throughout his term as president, most notably the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 San Diego County Fair and all large events were canceled, decimating the primary source of revenue for the fairgrounds and a key source of tax revenue for the city of Del Mar. Those events, including a scaled-down 2021 fair, returned as case numbers dropped and vaccines became available.

“It certainly has been a challenging time over the course of the last two years, certainly with COVID and all the effects it has had,” Valdez said.

He continued, “We really have proven, from board and staff, the tenacity of this organization.”