State and Provincial IAFE Speakers Bureau

The IAFE is pleased to announce our speakers list for the Fall 2024 and Spring 2025 series.

For the IAFE to provide this service, please schedule one hour. Please do not cut an IAFE program short because of other events running long. These speakers have designed their programs to accommodate a 45-minute to one-hour session (please confirm with your presenter).

To request a speaker, please complete the speaker’s request form below. Contacting the speaker before requesting them through the IAFE creates confusion. The IAFE will contact the presenter for clearance on the requested date.  After the dates are confirmed, you will receive a confirmation email from the IAFE office that includes the speaker’s contact information. Please confirm the details with the speaker. It is important that your selection is made well in advance, so presenters are available and have adequate time to make travel arrangements. It is your responsibility to secure and provide lodging for the speaker.


Larry Berry (Florida)

  • A Journey

Every day you can get up out of bed should be a day of thanks and a blessing. None of us knows when our last day will be. It is not like you have some contract with an expiration date or warranty on life or a reset button to push when things don’t go as expected. Through this keynote, I will share my journey from previous encounters that questioned whether I would enjoy the next day or not, to my current sub-journey of being diagnosed with cancer. I went from an active senior who could ride my bike for miles, loved scuba diving and even diving with sharks, had traveled the world and seen things most people only see on television, to being told I had cancer. We will share with you why questioning doctors who are supposed to have the answers, can mean the difference between life and death. How faith, family, friends, and a positive attitude can raise your healing level if you allow it to. Understanding that attitude is critical in what might seem to be an impossible challenge and allows you to continue to fight the fight and win the battle. I will explain how this journey gave me a new view on the meaning of life and the inevitable that lies ahead. Follow me on my journey that will hopefully inspire you to take a new look at not what you are, but who you are which is so much more important. (Keynote)

  • Leadership – Finding the Leader in You

Nothing is more critical to the success of an operation than great leadership. The goal of this program is to help others discover leadership traits within themselves, as well as identify effective leadership styles for success. This interactive workshop defines 15 leadership characteristics critical to successful leaders and how each one plays a part in being the best leader you can be. How does great leadership influence the success of an operation and what is the difference between being a manager and being a leader? Through an interactive exercise, we’ll help you identify your leadership style and those traits essential to great leadership. Leadership is not a born trait as some would think. Rather, it follows learned behaviors from childhood through live experiences with those we emulate. By the end of the presentation, you will have found the leader in you. (Keynote or Workshop)

  • Communication – Keys to Success

From the first forms of communication to the technology of today, one thing remains the same. If you fail to communicate effectively, you will no doubt fail. This workshop or keynote looks at the three primary forms of communication (oral, written, non-verbal) and how each has a different skillset needed to get your message across. Together we’ll review what has been identified as the seven “C’s” of communication, and how they can make you a more effective and efficient communicator. It’s not about getting your communication or directive to your team and others, but about getting it out with clarity and understanding so goals are met. Take your communication to the next level with this fun and informative session. (Workshop)

  • Creating the Magic

Not all the experiences we have with our teams or customers will be magical. Handling guest and team challenges is not about what you said or did, but how you make others feel in the end. How does creating magic with your team transfer to creating magic with your customers and guests? We have all heard the saying, “the customer is number one.” I believe in treating your team members as number one, and if you do, they will in turn treat your guests and customers as number one. How will empowerment and ensuring your team members are ready to handle life’s challenges make you and your operation more successful and stronger? What tools can you use to turn a good guest experience into a magical experience? Having worked for the Walt Disney Company, I’ll help you identify what magic feels like so you can create it yourself. Through this interactive and informative program, we’ll help you create magic within your team and organization. (Keynote or Workshop)

  • Expecting the Unexpected

We have recently had to deal with a pandemic, but other disasters can also play havoc with our operation and events. From floods and severe weather to pandemics, being prepared can make the difference between success and failure. Our jobs are extremely diverse, and we do not always think about how the unexpected can impact our lives until it happens. California and other states have earthquakes, mud slides, and even droughts. Florida and the east coast have the threat of hurricanes or that afternoon shower which turns into a monsoon. In between, you have tornadoes, flooding, winter events such as ice and snow, wind, and a whole host of other disasters. What disasters can be expected because of geographic location, and which are not specific to a particular region? Sometimes it is the things we do not always think about such as someone hacking into your computer system or walking into your office with a weapon that trips us up. How will you react when the media shows up at your door with a camera wanting a statement? What can you say other than “no comment,” that will present the story in a positive light and make you look like the professional you are? This workshop will help you expect the unexpected. (Keynote or Workshop)

  • How To Sell a Budget

Planning in the business environment starts with a budget. Budgets are not an event we do once a year, but a process which helps us formulate strategies and adapt to change. We will learn how looking at a budget as a process can take away the intimidation factor of budgeting, which many of us dread. All of us in the industry know budgets can be tools and should understand they are ever evolving. Through this workshop you will understand first why we budget, with the answer not always being obvious which is because we must prepare one. From setting up your chart of accounts to how income and expenses are entered, we will help you build confidence in preparing the best budget possible. This award-winning presentation doesn’t just deal with the dollars and cents of budgeting, but the methods and sense behind every great budget. We will discover how variance reporting can help us with future budgets, in addition to providing analysis for why we were not on track. What supplemental information should be provided with your budget, so it doesn’t get returned looking totally different than what was submitted. Budgeting and the presentation of a budget should be treated similar to a major sales event, where the facts presented sell themselves. (Workshop)

  • Sponsorships — Do you have a game plan?

Sponsor or partnership programs are critical to the financial success of most fairs. How can a successful corporate sponsorship program benefit both the charitable nonprofit and its sponsor? We’ll look at how providing value and consistent communication brings true rewards as a foundation of strong sponsor relations. Do you have a structured program and agreement related to the levels of sponsorship offered? Sponsorships can take different forms, such as financial donations, in-kind donations, or media sponsorships. Do you have a sponsorship packet for each of the levels and types? Ask hard questions such as what would “success” look like for the sponsor.  Together, we’ll learn how to design an effective sponsor program and how to create an environment where sponsorships are not looked at as an event, but as a process which enhances the sponsor’s experience.  (Workshop)

 ÄLarry Berry has been a professional speaker and trainer for over 30 years providing keynote addresses, education, and training. His background has included being the manager of the Kissimmee Valley Livestock Show and Osceola County Fair in Kissimmee, Fla., upper-level leadership positions in facilities and property management, leadership for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and a Certified Property Manager with the Institute of Real Estate Management. He is President of Wizardy Enterprises, LLC, and combines his skills as a presenter with magic and illusion making his presentations a memorable and informative experience. Larry has presented for Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, Nations Bank, Walt Disney Companies, Thomasville Furniture Industries, and Bank of America. He has been a keynote presenter for groups such as the National Apartment Association, hundreds of national or state associations, and management companies all over the country. Larry has a passion for both sharing information and helping others exceed and excel in whatever they do. He was in leadership as well as a trainer for Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts, and his book, “Leadership – Finding the Leader in You.” has sold copies in 16 countries. 

Courtny Conkle IFMG, CFE (Wyoming)

  • Growth Through Transition: Succession Planning Essentials for Fairs & Expositions

In the dynamic realm of fairs and expositions, where roles range from full-time professionals to dedicated volunteers, effective succession planning is not just a strategy; it’s a necessity. Join our session on succession planning essentials to navigate the complexities of succession planning for the diverse roles within your organization. After this session you will be inspired to incorporate planning to leave your organization better than you found it! Join us for a transformative session that will equip you with actionable strategies to create robust succession plans, irrespective of the roles within your fair, exposition, or business. Be prepared to navigate turnover challenges and lead your organization towards a future defined by smooth transitions, lasting legacies, and enduring success. Key Takeaways: where to start, understand the fundamental principles of succession planning, learn how to identify key roles and talents, and ensuring a strategic approach from the outset. (Keynote or Workshop)

  • The Basics of Succession Planning

Explore the core elements of successful succession planning, including talent identification, skill assessment, and mentorship programs tailored for various roles: full-time staff, part-time workers, fair time contributors, and volunteers. Implementation Strategies: Gain insights into practical implementation strategies. Delve into the importance of training programs, knowledge transfer mechanisms, and creating an inclusive environment that fosters growth and development. Navigating Turnover: Address the industry’s turnover challenges head-on. Learn techniques to adapt your succession plans in the face of unexpected departures, ensuring organizational stability. Leaving an Enduring Legacy: Grasp the philosophy of leaving your organization in a better state. Explore methods to instill a culture of excellence, ensuring that every transition leaves the organization stronger, more capable, and poised for continuous success. (Keynote or Workshop)

 Courtny Conkle, Wyoming State Fair General Manager, is a dynamic leader in the world of fairs, known for her unwavering dedication to community engagement, youth development, and the celebration of agriculture. Courtny brings a wealth of experience and a passion for creating memorable experiences and shaping the leaders of tomorrow. Beyond her role at the Wyoming State Fair, Courtny is a Certified Business Succession Planner, a qualification she pursued in response to the challenges she observed in the sector— notably, high turnover rates and the frequent absence of structured onboarding or knowledge transfer processes.

Courtny’s dedication to preserving the essence and heritage of the fair industry is pivotal to her approach. She champions the importance of capturing institutional knowledge as a means to maintain the unique culture and legacy of organizations while safeguarding their future.

Jeff Cotner (Texas)

  • Keeping your Event Safe

Step into a world where safety reigns supreme and your event is shielded from potential harm. Introducing “Keeping Your Event Safe,” a workshop designed exclusively for fairs who understand the paramount importance of ensuring the security and well-being of their fair. Imagine gaining insights from an industry expert who has dedicated their life to safeguarding events. Jeff will unravel the secrets behind creating a safety plan, identifying potential risks, and implementing effective mitigation strategies. (Workshop)

Jeff Cotner has served as the Security Director for the State Fair of Texas since 2019. Prior, he was a member of the Dallas Police Department for over 35 years attaining the rank of Deputy Chief. He is an effective leader who is outcome driven with a proven track record in administrative, patrol, investigative, special operations, training and support functions. Mr. Cotner has been an active instructor throughout his career and participatory at a national level with contemporary law enforcement issues on transparency, use of force (deadly force), de-escalation strategies/tactics and training. As Security Director, he is instrumental in developing an annual security plan with the Dallas Police Department and allied public safety partners. In tandem, he has enriched the Fair’s existing Emergency Guidelines & General Procedures and implemented security awareness and emergency response training. Mr. Cotner holds a BA in Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at San Antonio and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He and his wife Libby reside in Heath, Texas and enjoy their grandchildren, hobbies, traveling and an active church community.

Cassidy Johnson (Colorado)

  • Cultivating Connections: Communicating Agriculture to Non-Ag Audiences
    County and State Fairs are some of the best venues to share about agriculture with a non-ag audience and are truly an intersection of urban and rural. However, how we communicate about agriculture matters, and understanding what a non-ag audience is looking to learn and how they best receive information is key. In this talk, we’ll look at the most recent research about what matters to consumers and who they trust when it comes to agriculture, which messages resonate the most, and how to share them in a way that’s not only effective but opens the door to dialogue and relationship-building. (Keynote or Workshop)
  • Not Your Average Share Your Story Talk
    We are told all the time in agriculture to “share your story!” which usually implies some form of public sharing on social media. However, we don’t have to be on social to be excellent ambassadors for agriculture. In this talk, we’ll go through effective ways to share and build relationships on social AND off, and how to escape the ag echo-chamber both on and offline. (Keynote or Workshop)
  • Bridging the Gap: Unleashing Effective Communication to Conquer Generational Challenges
    When we think of “Bridging the Gap” as it relates to agriculture, usually we’re talking about how to bridge the gap between the farm and the table, how to communicate about and build trust around agriculture with a non-ag audience. However, bridging the generational gap is just as important, and is especially important in organizations like county and state fairs where people of many different generations are working together and putting on events for a wide audience. (Keynote or Workshop)

Cassidy Johnston is an agriculture consultant, communicator, and co-founder of JRC Ranch Management and Consulting. She grew up in a suburb of Denver but has now been ranching for over a decade and serves in the gap between the ranch and the table to build relationships and form bold partnerships to answer the question, “Where does my food come from?” Cassidy received her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado Boulder. She was a student researcher at the Leeds School of Business Research Division, graduating early with honors. While there, she completed a thesis titled “Building a Rancher-Environmentalist Alliance to Protect Ranch Land environments from Development.” She and her husband, Robert, have lived and worked on ranches in Montana, Colorado, and New Mexico and have three little boys. Besides being a consultant and communicator, she is a bull and semen rep, podcaster, book enthusiast, and collector of weird socks. Cassidy sits on the board of the Colorado

Foundation for Agriculture and on the advisory board for several agtech startups.

Kathy Kramer, IFMG (Washington)

  • Understanding the Words of Sponsorship and How to Increase Your Sponsorship Revenues

The world of sponsorship can be overwhelming without the tools to navigate and help ensure you are creating a program that creates a win-win scenario for all parties. Sponsorship revenues are becoming increasingly more important as a top source of revenue to ensure the success of fairs and events. They also provide some of the best and unique inventory of sponsorship assets. This session will take you through a six-step process from start to finish to help you build a successful sponsorship program. Starting at the beginning of how to best prospect and build your sponsorship pipeline. You will then learn how to create a sponsorship inventory of your assets and how to assign values to these assets using industry metrics and market valuations. This step is one that is commonly overlooked, causing you to undervalue your sponsorship assets. Then comes the sponsorship package and making it custom to each individual sponsor. From there you will learn how to get to the meeting, make the pitch, and get the sale. Once you have a signed contract, how do you activate and fulfill your sponsorship obligations. And then the big ta-da where you create and deliver sponsorship wrap up reports that will delight your client and provide valuable engagement metrics and images to support their investment. And finally, repeating the magic and re-booking your happy and engaged sponsor. Note – to maximize this training session, it is recommended to allocate at least one and a half hours. (Workshop)

  • Organization Succession Planning – Are You Ready for the Future or Will You Be Just Another Ostrich?

The time to think about succession planning is not when someone gives you notice they are leaving the organization – it is now. Succession planning is an ongoing living breathing process to ensure your future success and that you have continuity as staff and volunteers leave the organization. This session will take you through an eight-step process to begin now to plan for your organization’s future retirements, both staff and volunteers. It starts with conducting an organizational review including a SWOT analysis exercise specific to successional planning, creating an employee/volunteer matrix so you can identify potential retirees and anticipated retirement dates. From there, it’s how to create future based job descriptions and job analysis. Next, creating documentation and a plan for knowledge transfer including cross-training or job shadowing or integrating a successor into the organization. And finally, how do you help the retiree become actively part of this process and help them be part of leaving their legacy within the organization. (Keynote or Workshop)

Kathy Kramer has a diverse background in for-profit, government and non-profit organizations, holding key roles in the areas of executive management, strategic planning, sales and marketing, venue operations, production of major events and corporate sponsorship. She joined the Central Washington Fair Association, home of the Central Washington State Fair and Yakima Valley SunDome, in January 2020 as President and CEO. She previously was CEO of the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, Calif. During her tenure, the organization achieved its highest fair attendance, gross revenues, customer satisfaction ratings and won numerous industry and community awards. She was with Northlands in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where she was the Vice President of Business Operations. Prior to that, Deputy Director of the Phoenix Convention Center and Venues, Vice President of Convention Sales & Marketing for Century Link Center in Omaha, Midwest Regional Director of Sales & Marketing for Six Continents Hotels and Resorts and Director of Sales & Marketing for Harrah’s Casino and Hotel. Kramer holds a CVE (Certified Venue Executive) from the International Association of Venue Managers, is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) and Certified Festival and Event Executive (CFEE) from the International Festival and Events Association.

Penny McBride (Texas)

  • Ten Things We Need LESS

We live in a world of bigger, faster, more, now. In part because we understand bigger, we can measure faster, we can assign value to more and we all want now. But mostly because no one hands out awards for smaller, slower, less and later. But maybe we should! This keynote explores the profound organizational and personal value of choosing less to experience more. Values-driven culture, authentic experiences, meaningful quality and organizational sustainability all begin with LESS. (Keynote or Workshop)

  • Control Freaks Anonymous

Hi…my name is Fair Planner and I’m a control freak. In the event world, one has to be a detail-oriented professional who makes sure hundreds of other people get everything done in time to open the gates. But the Control Freak style of management can quickly lead to burn out, lack of engagement, trust issues and stagnancy. Control Freak recovery can help curb those tendencies to create dynamic teams inspired by visionary leaders, versus status quo managers. Choose the power of “why?” over the dogma of “how.” Learn to delegate authority over tasks and build peer accountability. Embrace risk of failure as fuel for innovation. Understand that culture, not tradition, attracts talent. You will notice Control Freaks Anonymous as both a workshop and keynote. The content is the same, but I can present it as a workshop with lots of opportunity for audience engagement or as a keynote with more examples and storytelling to illustrate the content with humor and emotion. (Workshop or Keynote)

Penny C. McBride is the Producer of the Light the Night Christmas Parade, an illuminated night parade, which more than doubles the population of the community of Fredericksburg, she recently retired as President & CEO of the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce. 14 years prior to starting with the Chamber she owned Indigo Resource Group, providing marketing services to tourism-related businesses and organizations. Her company managed the Texas Festival & Events Association and the Texas Association of Fairs and Events. She continues to work as a consultant, speaker, trainer and writer. Her speaking clients have included the International Tour & Travel Research Association, Argentina Economic Development Federation, Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment, Hawaii Tourism Authority and Community Associations Institute. In 2011, she was inducted into the Texas Festival and Event Association’s Hall of Honor. Penny is a graduate of Texas State University, where she studied public relations and business administration. She is a co-founder and inaugural class member of Leadership Gillespie County, a program now entering its 32nd year with more than 600 alumni. 

Jessica McLaughlin, IFMG, CFE (Washington)  

  • Competitive Exhibits – the Unsung Stars of Your Fair

Every entry from quilts to jams, goats to llamas, cupcakes to giant pumpkins can educate the public, entertain the guest, and offer a reward to the exhibitor. Many would argue that fair guests come through the gates just for carnival rides and food. Trust me, those same guests are also making their way into your exhibit buildings and barns to be “edutained.” Fairs have the ability to share their story through each of their competitive exhibit departments (both still life and livestock) with creative displays and educational elements enhancing the fair guest’s overall experience. The best part…many of the display pieces can be created at little to no cost and in all honesty, the sky is the limit when you open communication channels between your staff, volunteers, and exhibitors. Let’s talk about where competitive exhibits began and where they can go! (Workshop)

  • Junior Fair Boards – The Reasons Your Fair Needs Them!

Fast forward 50 years from today. I will not be here, and you may not be here, but the fair will be, and it is going to need someone to lead it AND love it. Not only do we need to start TODAY infusing the ideas that youth can bring to the table to enhance your fair’s current offerings, but we need to find and cultivate youth that will become the leaders of tomorrow. What else can youth do now to become a part of your fair that will elevate the incredible path you are on? Let’s be sure our mindset is not what kids “can’t” do at our fairs but what they “can” do. With some guidance, they will not only “do” . . . they’ll “do it WELL.” (Workshop)

  • Training Methods, Team Development, and Leadership Styles – Disney Movies and Wood Badge Taught Me Everything I Needed To Know To Succeed.

EDGE, Team Development, and Leadership Styles. Sound familiar? If so, you may have been through a Boy Scouts of America training somewhere along the trail. The beauty of these three philosophies became clear to me when I became a Wood Badge Trainer and I could not wait to see them in action…as in “lights, camera, action.” Yes, Disney movies can entertain us, but they can also teach us. Wait, did the writers mean to do that? Together, let’s play, revisit some great Disney teaching moments, listen to songs, and yes…play some more while learning about team development, leadership styles, and a proven method of teaching others. Hakuna Matata. (Keynote or Workshop)

Jessica McLaughlin, CFE, graduated from Spokane Community College with an Associate of Arts Degree and A.A.S. in Hotel/Motel/Restaurant Management. She began working for Spokane County in 1986 and moved to a full-time position in 1988 with the Parks and Recreation Department. In 1993, having assisted with the Interstate Fair, opted to make a lateral move from the Parks and Recreation Division to the Fair Division of the newly formed Parks, Recreation, and Fair Department where she now serves as Fair Coordinator for the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, WA. Jessica is a graduate of the IAFE Institute of Fair Management. Outside of her work commitments, Jessica is involved in Camp Fire USA, Boy Scouts of America, Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Washington State Horsemen. She has been married for 27 years and has two children.

Angie Mullings (Missouri)

  • If The Shoe Fits: Leadership Lessons Learned on the Road from Farm Kid Boots to Boss Lady Stilettos

From her very first pair of cowgirl boots at two years old, real estate broker, entrepreneur and leader Angie Mullings has always understood the importance of a good pair of shoes: the immediate boost of confidence. The feeling you could take on the board room, the judges’ panel, the world. As the oldest of four children growing up on a dairy farm, money was tight. A new pair of shoes always felt like Christmas. And Angie knew to take good care of her new shoes because they’d be handed down to a sister or cousin. Someone else would need those shoes, so she always took care to leave them in good shape. The same is true when it comes to leading a team, passing down leadership lessons and helping along with the leaders of tomorrow. The most effective leaders lean into nurture, groom, and mentor those coming along behind them so that they can step into the shoes of leadership. They need to know they are ready for the challenge and up for the task at hand. Through story-driven message, Angie takes the audience from life on the farm, to school sports, to organizational leadership, to being an entrepreneur, sharing the leadership lessons she learned along the way. Leaders will walk away with: 

·      Greater understanding of the challenges, opportunities, heartbreak, and celebration of leadership along with principles and perspective as they’re inspired to leave people better than you find them.

·      Encouragement that genuine, impactful leadership does not require a title; and

·      Confidence in the importance of and commitment to leaning into a heartfelt desire to make things better as a core principle of leadership. (Keynote or Workshop)

Angie Mullings is a real estate broker, entrepreneur, trainer, coach, and speaker. She has owned and operated Century 21 Integrity Group since 2007 and has been a licensed REALTOR since 1995. Training and coaching her agents to achieve their goals is Angie’s passion. She deliberately chooses agents that have a heart to serve, understanding the money will come. Her approach to brokerage ownership is unique in that she is focused on quality versus quantity. It is a blessing to be able to choose the people you want to lead, coach and train. Angie is very committed to her profession and has served her industry’s association at all levels. The leadership positions she has held have introduced her to the intricacies of leading a team that crosses company lines and is spread out across a state. She has also served on non-profit boards in her community and had the challenge of starting a chamber of commerce in a small town with few business opportunities. Having stepped up and been chosen to lead discussions, emcee and speak at local events, Angie found that she had a gift for communicating through storytelling. Pulling from her experience as a business owner and volunteer leader, she has developed a message to help overcome leadership challenges as well as inspire and motivate. She approaches her speaking opportunities with the same zest for service that she has for helping her clients achieve their home ownership goals. Some of the best lessons can be learned and retained from other’s experience when expressed in storytelling fashion.

Bill Ogg, CFE (Nebraska)

  • Canter; At the Canter, Please!

Is your fair performing in the organized and attractive cadence of a superbly trained show horse or is the coordination awkward or potentially a runaway towards a wreck? This keynote (or workshop) emphasizes the importance of the Fair to your community and why the leadership and management of this “public trust” must conduct themselves honorably and professionally. Bill uses personal history, horse sense and humor to encourage and educate board members, managers and staff to perform effectively, individually and most importantly, perform successfully as a team. (Keynote) 

  • Carpe Diem

This workshop can be an extemporaneous question and answer session or can be strategically predetermined to address a specific subject from a broad range of options including sensitive board issues or management topics – nearly anything can be on the agenda! Bill has managed medium and large fairs serving county or state governmental agencies, not-for-profit organizations, and a private management company. He can speak to the strengths and challenges of each structure. He humbly but objectively assisted at each fairground to raise funding to build functional physical improvements better able to host the annual fair and diverse non-fair events. Moreover, he assisted in improving each fair’s management structure and relations, programming and financial position to better serve the constituency it represents. Bill’s straight forward communication style will invite and lead discussion with respect for differing opinions and confidentiality. So, consider an open session for Carpe Diem — Seize the Day. In this case, seize the opportunity to tap into decades of experience. (Workshop)

  • Corn Dogs and Elephant Ears!

For every staff, board or service member committed to the fair business, this vocation or volunteer labor of passion is addictive and can be exhausting. To perennially perform effectively and professionally and yet remain relatively sane, we must re-energize our internal personal batteries. Many of us rely on our “Fair Family” for this support and attending state and zone conventions is a great opportunity to reconnect with a vital power source. This motivational keynote or workshop will be personalized to your audience and is guaranteed to make you think some, laugh a lot and feel eager to work hard and cooperate to conduct your best fair ever. Bill uses life experiences, quotes, and humor to share his contagious enthusiasm and love for fairs to make others feel genuinely good about themselves and their contribution to the success of their fair. (Keynote)

  • Livestock Shows and Ag Events – Who Cares?!

Fairs bear the serious responsibility to be agriculture educators but moreover have the awesome opportunity to be the community showcase and trusted source of the accurate and proactive message of agriculture. We are obligated to host relevant livestock shows and agriculture events. BUT, what is relevant and to whom? Expectations may have shifted over time. What does the exhibitor expect? What does a fair guest expect? What responsibilities do show organizers play in agriculture education? Should there be a difference between local, state, regional, and national shows? What about independent shows compared to shows within a county or state fair? A discussion with stakeholders, 4-H, FFA, fair staff/volunteers and livestock superintendents, can lead to planning and conducting a relevant and successful event to serve the mission to be a Champion of Agriculture. (Workshop)

Bill Ogg, CFE raised on an irrigated diverse crop farm, cow-calf and feedlot operation, his formative years in Wyoming included active 4-H and FFA participation with the annual summer highlight being exhibition at the county and State Fair. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Ag Economics from the University of Wyoming and a master’s degree in Equine Reproductive Physiology at Louisiana State University. He began his fair management career at age 26 as Director of the Wyoming State Fair with progressive general manager responsibilities at the Montana State Fair and ExpoPark, Kansas State Fair, Greeley Stampede, Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days, and the Nebraska State Fair. Managing fairs, fairgrounds, rodeos, arenas, and racetracks while reporting to county or state governmental agencies, not for profit organizations and a private management company has given Bill a broad base of experience. He has served as an officer on fair association boards in four states, the RMAF, NALSRMA, many IAFE Committees and as a Zone Director and Convention Program Chair. Bill and wife Patti are parents of four children who each earned National 4-H Congress trips, multiple 4-H and FFA state and national speaking and judging awards and three State FFA Offices representing three different states. Understandably proud of these accomplishments, Bill and Patti are moreover humbled that now as adults, they and their spouses proactively perform leadership roles themselves for another generation of youth. Bill and Patti feel very blessed for the seven grandkids.

Beth Pomije, IFMG (Wisconsin)

  • Self-Care As You Fair

The long weeks of planning, double-digit hour days during our busy seasons, and advocacy for all we stand for can pull from our health and resources. Explore and embrace seven areas of wellness in this high school Health Class lesson turned interactive and reflective fair-focused presentation. Leave with a “Sieve Half Full” mindset and the drive to navigate your personal and fair lives while also creating the best experience for your teams and guests. (Keynote or Workshop) 

ÄBeth Pomije is excited to be celebrating her 19th year in the Vendor Services Department at Wisconsin State Fair. Currently holding the title of Vendor Services Account Manager, she is responsible for vendor recruitment as well as programming a 200,000 square foot Exposition Center, three marketplaces, and a number of open layout areas, totaling over 350 commercial vendor locations for the annual state fairIn her former professional life, Beth taught high school Health and Physical Education and coached girls ice hockey for five years. She now loves to merge her teaching and fair passions every chance she gets through industry speaking opportunities, school career days, and her involvement in the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs program. She is a Past Chair of the IAFE Young Professionals Steering Committee, is the Chair of the Commercial Exhibits and Concessions Committee and is an active member of TEMPO Milwaukee’s Emerging Women Leaders program. Beth enjoys exploring all Wisconsin has to offer with her husband, Taylor, and two daughters, Cady (7) and Masey (3).

Brienna Schuette, IFMG, CFE (Minnesota)­­­­

  • Cultivating Creativity to Generate Solid Solutions

Creativity is problem solving. And it is not just for marketing professionals! In this session, gain a                     solid understanding of how to strategically lay the groundwork to develop a successful original creative concept that helps your organization meet challenges head-on. Explore how to cultivate creative concepts that reach target audiences effectively. Learn more about how to execute a creative concept across multiple departments and areas of your fair. (Workshop)

  • Planning To Succeed: Strategy & Solutions for Bringing Out the Best When the Worst Happens

What you need to know to proactively manage the message, the media, and the mayhem when the unexpected happens at your event. Learn to leverage proven communication tools and discover PR techniques that help your fair maintain and strengthen relationships with your stakeholders. (Workshop)

  • Customer Service Is the New Marketing

Explore how harmony between two critical components of your business can lead to increased sales, consumer advocacy and a competitive edge. Learn how to change your perspective and roll out tactics that solidify and strengthen relationships with new and existing fair guests. (Keynote or Workshop)

Brienna Schuette is the founder of Moxie & Drive Marketing. Previously, she spent more than a decade as the Minnesota State Fair’s Marketing & Communications Manager where she developed and executed strategic, multi-platform marketing plans for the Fair’s annual campaigns and special initiatives. She founded Moxie & Drive Marketing, an integrated marketing communications consultancy, in 2017. She serves clients in the fairs and festivals, restaurant, retail and education industries. In addition to consulting work, Brienna is a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in the marketing-communications major program. When she is not consulting or teaching, Brienna is busy raising two young boys and an American Bulldog rescue mutt with her husband Sam.

Alicia Shoults, CFE (Ohio)

  • Communicating a Crisis

On Opening Day of the 2017 Ohio State Fair, a ride malfunctioned resulting in loss of life and injury. This presentation will outline the firestorm of media coverage and the crisis communications strategies employed to put out the flames. You will hear about the lessons that were learned and will take away strategies you can use to ensure your fair is prepared to communicate about a crisis of any size. (Keynote or Workshop)

  • The ABCs of Promotions (and Programming) Planning

Does your fair have a slow time of day? Low-traffic area? Whether you are deciding which types of programming to offer, or developing promotions to drive attendance, learn how you can think like a fairgoer to build a customized plan that works best for your fair, your budget, and your community. (Workshop)

  • Work Smarter, Not Harder: Time-Saving Tips and Tricks

When to-do lists are long and the days are short, we have got to find ways to make every minute count. Learn timesaving “hacks” and strategies that can streamline your day. (Workshop)

Alicia Shoults, CFE, is the assistant general manager and marketing and public relations director of the Ohio State Fair. She got her start in the fair industry during her youth in 4-H as a county junior fair board member, then landed a summer internship at the state fair in college and knew that she would be back. In January 2011, she was back, stepping in as a communications jack-of-all-trades, overseeing and executing all the fair’s marketing, advertising, public relations, and social media efforts. Whether she is toying with the latest marketing technique or navigating through a crisis in the national spotlight, Alicia is calm, dedicated, and eternally optimistic. Alicia has served on the IAFE Young Professionals Initiative; the IAFE Advertising, Promotions, and Public Relations Committee; and is a past IAFE Zone 3 Director.

Jeffrey Thornberry (Utah)

  • Inspiration for the Commercial Exhibits Program Understanding the Trends Impacting Retail at Fairs and How to Plan for What Happens Next

We are deep in a generational shift in buying habits, one that has left many of our events finding it increasingly difficult to fill their Commercial Exhibits Spaces. This is more than just post pandemic shock, it’s part of a long-term trend that will eventually force fair organizations to rethink how they manage shopping programs. The more organizations understand these trends, the better they will be equipped to navigate them. Commercial Exhibit managers alone cannot solve this riddle. Support from CEO’s, Deputy GMs and even Sponsorship Coordinators will be needed if these vital ecosystems are to continue serving their purpose. This presentation will give fairs both tools and actionable information needed to strategically manage the change coming to their retail environments. (Workshop)

Jeff Thornberry has been a speaker at the IAFE, Western Fairs Association (WFA), National Independent Concessionaires Association (NICA), and Florida Federation of Fairs Conventions. Currently Jeff sits on the NICA Board of Directors and Chairs of the Association’s Commercial Exhibits Taskforce. He is a longtime member of IAFE’s Commercial Exhibits & Concessions Committee and has been the Commercial Exhibits Representative to WFA. Attending his first fair in 1981 as an employee of a major west coast concessionaire, Jeff, and his wife Jo, would go on to own and operate a thriving commercial exhibit business selling at fairs and rodeos. Jeff is a proud recipient of the WFA “Barham Award” and is one of a handful of commercial exhibitors to have received the NICA “Certified Concessionaire Executive” (CCE) designation.

Lori Wickett, CFE (Montana)

  • Be Better!

This motivational keynote address challenges leaders and listeners to plan, break the rules, and seek knowledge. Lori covers the importance of measurement; the role of women in leadership today from your home with daughters, to the communities you reside in, to the board room; and standing on purpose to make a difference even when you’ve been dealt a tough hand. (Keynote)

  • Brand Wake Up Call

If your brand has a mature history, it might be time for it to have a refresh. This workshop focuses on identifying a tired brand, why it’s important for a refresh, and what to do about it. Lori walks you through a brand’s best day as it energizes your customer base while appealing to a whole new customer. (Workshop)

  • Writing a Purpose Statement – How It’s Soooo Different Than a Mission Statement

What is a purpose statement and why do you need one? This session walks you through the elements necessary to define “the why” you do what you do every day. Identifying your “why” is the one critical element to success in employee hiring and retention, consumer marketing, board engagement – and few organizations are using this vital tool. Learn how to write a purpose statement and change the way you show up in front of all stakeholders. (Workshop)

  • Moving the Needle – The Strategy Behind Better Marketing

In this workshop, you’ll learn that marketing is a science, not a sales tool. Ignore this critical piece on your team and you might as well bet on roulette. You’ll learn how to think strategically first about selling anything, from products to concert tickets to vendor space and how to build a road map that is measurable and effective. Lori is known for her growth initiatives – this workshop teaches you the recipe behind moving the marketing needle to increase sales and open new doors. (Workshop)

  •  Sponsorship Activation – What SPONSORS Think About You

In Lori’s 25 years of coaching on sponsorships, she has now been able to build investment programs for companies looking to sponsor events. Find out how companies approach sponsorship from small mom-and-pops to larger corporations, how to engage them, and how to keep them. It’s not about you; it’s about THEM. (Workshop)

Lori Wickett, CFE – Growing up in agriculture in the heart of Montana, Lori Cox-Wickett quickly became versatile in her skillsets at an early age. At her core, she loves helping people succeed and building an undeniable product. She is a creative strategist helping companies and organizations combine creativity with linear thinking to frame goal-oriented results. Lori was a CEO in the state fair industry prior to launching her business, EIGHT:18, and was headhunted to three of the last four roles she served. With a B.A. in public relations, she spent her early years in marketing and sponsorship programming before excelling in executive leadership. Her versatile background has prepared her well for running a company dedicated to helping organizations solve challenging issues today, including four years in corporate fundraising. “There are so many variables challenging how we conduct business today,” she says. “At EIGHT:18, our strength is the way we get you to think about your situation. You will be surprised about what you think you know, while learning about what is lurking beneath the surface in what you actually don’t.” One of the products offered by EIGHT:18 is their Holes WorkshopTM, a system that helps organizations expose opportunities and challenges, followed by solutions to fill those “holes.” Lori has shepherded staff sizes as large as 1,500 or as small as two and is known for her coaching approach and macro-management leadership. She is most proud of helping employees find ownership in their role, while being held accountable to outcomes. “All team players, be they leaders, staff, board members or even volunteers play a part in the outcome,” she says. “We locate everyone to the right seat on the bus, determine expectations of each role, and get the team to agree on what success looks like. Whether that be an event, or a new product developed, this structure works with strong leaders at the helm.” With 31 years of business under her belt, Lori has worked for corporations such as the world-leading public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard to 501(c)3s like the Montana Grain Growers Association. Lori is a knowledge-seeker and is a graduate of Leadership Outfitters, the IAFE Institute of Fair Management and a fellow with the University of Nebraska LEAD program. She holds her place as an IAFE Certified Fair Executive and is currently studying toward certification with the Big Sky Way Leading Business program. On occasion she also delivers keynote speeches, particularly for the ag industry. Lori is married to Jeff Wickett who has spent a career in the steel industry with many years volunteering as a county fair board member. She has two children who focused their work in agriculture.