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Each of the nine members are appointed to the Del Mar Fairgrounds board of directors by the governor.
Each of the nine members are appointed to the Del Mar Fairgrounds board of directors by the governor. Courtesy photo
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Del Mar Fairgrounds board appoints new leaders

DEL MAR – The Del Mar Fairgrounds board of directors appointed a new president and new vice presidents last week. G. Joyce Rowland will serve as the new president and former presidents Richard Valdez and Frederick Schenk will serve as vice presidents.

Operated by the 22nd District Agricultural Association on behalf of the State of California, the Del Mar Fairgrounds board consists of nine members who are appointed by the governor. They are unpaid positions that oversee operations at the fairgrounds, owned by the state. Each member serves a four-year term.

“It’s a wonderful combination of history on the board, which we need at this current time, and the future,” said Lisa Barkett, outgoing board vice president.

Rowland, who was appointed to the board in March 2020, is a resident of Rancho Santa Fe and has previously worked at Sempra Energy, Pacific Enterprises and Southern California Gas Company.

Valdez, who has been on the board president for the past two and a half years, was appointed in 2014, while Schenk has been on the board since 2011.

During the Dec. 14 meeting Valdez discussed the challenging year the board has faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis resulting in a huge economic loss for the Del Mar Fairgrounds as the 2020 San Diego County Fair, horse racing and all other events were canceled.

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

The board also heard a report on the 2022 operating budget as members look ahead to the upcoming year.

According to the financial report, The Fairgrounds expects an operating budget of about $57.5 million. It states that the board expects positive cash flow in 2022 due to full capacity events returning to the Fairgrounds.

“The net projection for 2022 is to break even, continuing to demonstrate a conservative approach toward stabilization and consistent improvement over 2020’s actual operating losses of nearly $3.8 million and 2021’s budget of a $2.5 million loss, responsibly guiding business and operations toward financial recovery,” the staff report says.

The budget also factors in two grants that the Fairgrounds received in 2021 through the Budget Act that totaled $14 million, as well as federal PPP loans and the Shuttered Venues Operator Grant from the Small Business Administration.