Zeke Fraser was hired as the new manager of the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, the board of directors announced Tuesday, capping off a search that began when former manager Dave Kegebein was fired in October.
Fraser, a resident of Santa Cruz for nearly 30 years, has more than 25 years of experience in general management, banking, property management, customer service, operations and logistics, according to a press release from the fair.
“Being local gives me the perspective and the contacts to ensure that the fair continues to be well-sponsored and that the people of Santa Cruz and surrounding counties will get a fun and enjoyable County Fair that feels like it belongs to them,” Fraser stated in a press release.
Fraser’s fondness for fairs dates back to his childhood, he said.
“When I was in my tweens, my father ran the county fair circuit across California as part of a music band and my family went with him,” Fraser said. “This inspired me to later participate in several Renaissance Faires in my late teens. I think the fair has been calling to me for a long time, and I’m excited to finally answer that call.”
In a virtual-only meeting held over Zoom, Board Chair Michael Pruger announced Fraser as the new manager following a brief closed session period to finalize the hire.
Fraser will begin his role on Monday, and will be paid $8,135 a month. Pruger added that the board is working on organizing a public meet-and-greet with the new manager.
“Zeke is a local,” Pruger said. “He’s been working within this community for many, many years. We look forward to having a very good working relationship with both the community and board.”
The board fired Kegebein in October on a 7-2 vote, pointing to an audit from the California Department of Food and Agriculture that stated many expenditures on a state-issued credit card were for purchases that were “personal in nature, unjustified and/or not supported with a receipt or a vendor invoice,” including for gasoline for his truck.
Kegebein has called the allegations “false accusations,” saying that all the purchases were for his work at the fair, and on Oct. 25 presented the board with a $30,000 check to cover the fuel costs.
The fairgrounds has seen three interim managers—Don Dietrich, Kelley Ferreira and Ken Alstott—since the October decision.
The annual Santa Cruz County Fair is scheduled for Sept. 13-17.