Don Bean brings many years of marketing and promotion expertise to the table as the Mother Lode Fair's new part-time manager.
He replaces Jan Haydn-Myer, who retired in 2011 and returned part time in 2012.
Bean said he is actually putting his entire family owned business - B 3 Management Inc. - on the job. His stepson, Chris Casassa, will be marketing manager; his wife, Stacey, is an expert on tickets, and he will use the expertise of others in the business as needed.
Bean is employed full time as director of special events for Save Mart Corp. He is a former Twain Harte resident who moved to Modesto six years ago to work for Save Mart. His family still owns property in Twain Harte, and he and his wife are looking to move back.
He will work one or two days a week in Tuolumne County as needed while keeping his Save Mart job. His salary as fair manager is $25 per hour.
"We aren't doing this for the money," he said. "We are doing it because we want to save the Mother Lode Fair. We plan to have nothing but fun up here, putting my 40 years of experience to work for the fair."
The 2013 fair will take place Thursday through Sunday, July 11 to 14.
Bean was hired on Feb. 19 and hit the road running his first week on the job, meeting as many people as possible and coming up with ideas. His next step is to have his son, Chris Casassa, work up a survey asking area residents what they like and don't like about the fair and what they want to see happen.
He was a concert promoter in the 1970s and '80s, and has already booked an old friend, guitarist Elvin Bishop, for Saturday, July 13, at the Mother Lode Fair.
He is also talking to top bluegrass performers about having an all-star bluegrass night.
He has worked in the corporate world, with such companies as Intel and Microsoft, arranging huge conferences and meetings at places like the Mosconi Center and Long Beach Arena.
Through B 3 Management Inc., he has contracts for exhibits with the State Fair and other California fairs, and he was responsible for Save Mart's wine garden at the state fair.
He has asked Kim Walton, a California State Barbecue Champion, to share her barbecue talents with Mother Lode Fair employees or local nonprofits, with the majority of the profits going back to the fair.
"I know the fair has been struggling to get good commercial exhibits," he said, "and part of that is because it is the same weekend as the Stanislaus County Fair and the State Fair. Good vendors will prefer the bigger venues. It will take time to figure that out."
The good news is that he doesn't intend to raise ticket prices, but hopes to market advance ticket sales at a reduced price.
He said he has been very lucky to have a dream job with Save Mart, and is ready to give back. He believes Save Mart will help, as well, since the company has two stores in Sonora.
"I took this job because I really want to save the fair," he said. "I have a unique team of people to make it work, and my job is to help people work together to support the fair."