Fair manager Ferreira to embrace free time in retirement

San Benito County Fair Manager Kelley Ferreira previously retired and came back to work part time.

After nearly three decades running the county fair, Kelley Ferreira is going out on top. Nearly 12,000 people paid to attend in 2013, an increase of 30 percent over the prior year.
As his final weeks on the job wind down, Ferreira said he is satisfied with his tenure at the fairgrounds – and happy with the results of this fall’s fair.
“It was a good year in terms of the fair,” Ferreira said. “Attendance was up considerably.”
Ferreira is retiring after 27 years working at the fairgrounds. His last day will be Dec. 31.
“It’s time,” he said, in an interview with the Free Lance. “As you get older, you appreciate your free time.”
He said he came to Hollister from Redding in August 1986. He started his career in fair management when he entered a training program in Sacramento in 1985. He spent time in Turlock and other Northern California fairs before settling in San Benito County that summer. It would be another six years before the fair returned to San Benito County. Both his father and brother are also involved in fair management.
“It’s a nice, tight-knit group of people that’s always willing to step up and help,” he said, about Hollister and the county.
In 2011, because of budget woes, the state cut off funding for fairs around the state, leaving fair managers like Ferreira in financial dire straits. Ferreira retired as a full-time state employee in 2011 but was rehired as a part-time contract employee the same year to help keep the fair going.
“We restructured, reorganized and we’re still here,” he said.
Kris Regan, the officer manager at the fairgrounds, had only praise for the man she has worked with for five years.
“He is the fair,” she said. “He gets so much stuff done. He knows so many people. He’s going to be very missed in this office.”
With organizations such as the San Benito Heritage Foundation and local businesses chipping in, the fair continued its tradition of providing entertainment to San Benito County residents.
“Kelley has been the centerpiece that had to manage a decreased budget but yet make the project desirable for the public, and he was able to accomplish that,” said Rob Bernosky, the secretary of the San Benito Heritage Foundation. “He has done a remarkable job for the transformation of Bolado Park from being a state-funded agency to a revenue-based facility.
“That is not an easy transition, but he did it and he did it well. He will be sorely missed.”
Ferreira has come to really like Hollister over the years. And it’s because of the community that the fair will continue to prosper, he said.
“I see a lot more people in the community stepping up to help us out,” he said. “The community embraces it (the fair), and that’s a good thing.”
He said he recalls young 4H members who showed animals at the fair – when they were young – who now have families of their own.
“I’ve seen this community grow,” he said. “It’s amazing how fast time goes.”

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