Fairgrounds director resigns
When the Haywood County Fairgrounds directors decided to reduce the director of facilities and marketing position down to part-time as a cost-saving move, they knew the current director, Aaron Mabry, probably wouldn’t be able to stay on for long.
Mabry had to seek out another full-time job, but he told the board he would try to continue working part-time at the fairgrounds as long as he was able. This week, Mabry announced to the board that he would be leaving the fairgrounds to focus on his full-time job as a business consultant for Systel Business Equipment in Asheville.
“Please know that while this decision was not easy, I felt it necessary based on time restraints with my other full-time position,” Mabry wrote in his letter of resignation. “And while I appreciate your consistent support through this six-month period of part-time employment, the fairgrounds deserves an employee who can devote the necessary time this position requires.”
The announcement did not come as a surprise to the board, said Chairwoman Mary Ann Enloe, and while they are sorry to see Mabry leave, it is understandable given the circumstances.
“He realized that you just can’t do a full-time job and a half-time job, too,” she said, but added they already had a “plan B” in place in case Mabry left. “We have a good transition plan in place, and we can go on into next year with this transition plan.”
Until at least the beginning of next year, the position will be split between two people, Sam Smith and Ray McLean.
Smith has been a long-time volunteer at the fairgrounds and will be helping to coordinate events and projects at the facility. Payment terms have not been determined yet since Smith already donates much of his time to the fairgrounds.
McLean will be the main contact and “on the scene” person for the fairgrounds, and he will receive $600 a month.
Mabry was hired at the beginning of 2011 as the board started to focus on marketing the Haywood County Fairgrounds in an effort to become self-sustaining.
Progress has been made in that area, Enloe said, with the number of events having increased greatly in the past year.
“We’re having some folks we’re having to turn down because we’re already booked, which is a good problem to have,” she said.
The fairgrounds have also received a boost from the Haywood County Farm Bureau members, who agreed to underwrite the annual county fair taking place Aug. 23 to 29.
“We’ve had a good year and with that shot in the arm plus some other sponsors, we feel quite optimistic,” Enloe said, adding the board is working on other ways to bring costs down, such as finding less expensive liability insurance for the facilities.
Mabry will continue on in a volunteer capacity as an advisor to the board.
“Working for the fairgrounds has been an honor,” he wrote. “…we’ve all worked extremely hard to see the fairgrounds thrive, and I will do anything I can do to support its impending success.”