DEL MAR — In the midst of a financial crisis that has pushed the Del Mar Fairgrounds onto the verge of collapse, the 22nd District Agricultural Association announced today the retirement of longtime fairgrounds’ CEO and General Manager Tim Fennell.
Fennell was first named CEO of the state-owned property in 1993, serving for 27 years.
“On behalf of the entire board, I would like to recognize Tim for the three decades he has dedicated to the Fairgrounds,” Board President Richard Valdez said in a statement. “We wish him all the very best as he embarks on his much-deserved retirement.”
The 22nd DAA’s Board of Directors named Carlene Moore as Interim CEO to replace Fennell. Moore, who first joined the fairgrounds as deputy general manager in 2019, will assume all operational responsibility immediately, according to a media release.
Most recently, Moore served as CEO of the Napa County Fair Association, a nonprofit organization in Calistoga, Calif.
“I appreciate the opportunity to provide leadership to the Del Mar Fairgrounds and while we have some challenging times ahead of us, the board and our leadership team are dedicated to the survival and recovery of the Fairgrounds,” Moore said in a release.
The Coast News reached out to Del Mar Fairgrounds officials on Monday regarding the status of Fennell’s employment and was informed he was on vacation this week but remained in his position. This afternoon, Jennifer Helman, fairgrounds marketing director, sent an email confirming Fennell’s retirement.
Fennell’s departure was rumored to be imminent, according to the Del Mar Times, following a 22nd DAA special executive meeting on Aug. 24 wherein officials reportedly discussed his employment.
As previously reported by The Coast News, due to COVID-19, the Del Mar Fairgrounds is facing dire financial straits with a likely 90% cut in revenue streams after the cancellation of all events, including the San Diego County Fair. In July, the 22nd DAA announced it was reducing its current staffing by nearly 60%.