A 33-year Mother Lode Fair employee, Jan Haydn-Myer, will retire as fair manager at the end of December.
Haydn-Myer, 63, planned to retire last December, after the fair discovered it was losing all of its state funding, but agreed to continue her job through 2012 on a part-time basis.
“I would have retired last year if we had figured out how to survive without state funding,” she said. “It just wasn’t a good time to just walk out of here, but I needed to retire (from full-time) because I needed to reduce their costs.”
Retiring from the now part-time position will allow Haydn-Myer to spend more time with her two sons and grandchildren and tend to her ranches.
Haydn-Myer and her husband, Jim, raise commercial cattle on ranches in Oakdale, Jamestown and Oregon, which she said is a time-consuming job.
“It’s time for me to go do something else and I think the fair is … on stable ground,” she said.
The board of directors was faced with tough decisions after Gov. Jerry Brown announced in 2011 that the state was cutting funding for all California fairs. The Mother Lode Fair will lose about $200,000 per year — a third of its revenue.
The board will be responsible for filling Haydn-Myer’s position, and member Stacey Dodge will assume the duties on Jan. 1 on a voluntary basis until a replacement is hired.
Haydn-Myer has been training Dodge, who will train the new employee, and said Dodge has had a great attitude about taking on the extra responsibilities.
The fair manager’s tasks include handling finances, renting buildings, supervising staff and scheduling and overseeing events at the fairgrounds.
“It’s a lot of set-up, tear-down, reconcile,” Haydn-Myer said.
The fair manager is paid hourly and can work a maximum of 119 days per year, or about 950 hours, to remain part-time.
The fair has about four regular part-time staffers but as many as 50 total part-time employees, most of whom work during fair time. There are also two permanent employees on staff.
Haydn-Myer, a Tuolumne County native, has fond memories of visiting the fair during her childhood and has been part of the staff since the summer of 1979.
She started as the assistant business manager, a position that has since been cut, and was promoted about 10 years ago.
She said she will miss the fair but is glad to be able to leave her job while she still enjoyed it.
The board of directors and new fair manager will continue to face the challenge of managing expenses without state funding but Haydn-Myer is confident they will make it work.
“The future is theirs,” she said. “I think the fairgrounds is loved and needed by our community and I think people want it, so it’s worth the effort.”