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New leader ready to work

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

Ray Malerbi is excited.

"Very, very excited," he said yesterday, sitting in the administration building at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds.

That's because at next week's 6:30 p.m. fair board meeting, Malerbi will officially become chief executive officer of Frogtown.

"This is one of the few fairs that I've really wanted to manage for many, many years," said Malerbi, who is stepping down from his job as assistant manager of California Exposition and the State Fair in Sacramento.

Malerbi, 55, was at the fairgrounds in Angels Camp yesterday to meet with Buck King, the current fair manager, and fair board President Bob Trinchero.

They talked about challenges for the fairgrounds — such as the need to remodel some buildings — but also discussed the selling points of the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee.

Afterward, Malerbi said his goals are simple.

He doesn't want to make "sweeping changes" to the way things are done.

Rather, he wants to "stabilize" procedures and find new revenue sources for the fair.

"I don't want to change tradition," Malerbi said. "The tradition here is what makes it what it is, what makes it successful.

"This is a world-renowned event. That is something we can use to our advantage to market it."

Malerbi also said he wants to market the fairgrounds as a community resource — something that can be used for anything from community events to base camps during forest fires.

"This is not just a fair — it's a facility," he said.

Malerbi will begin on a part-time basis later this month and will start full-time as CEO beginning Sept. 15. His salary will be about $6,000 per month.

Malerbi still lives in Sacramento but is preparing to make an offer on a house in Angels Camp. The house would take about 120 days to be built, but Malerbi said he'd find somewhere in the county to stay in the meantime.

He has worked with fairs since he was 16, when he lied about his age so he could work as a stage hand, he said.

Since then, he said he has managed more than 50 fairs and 5,000 events in 39 years.


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