State and Provincial IAFE Speakers Bureau

The IAFE is pleased to announce our speakers list for the Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 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 and reimburse the speaker for travel expenses.


Gary Berg (Minnesota)

  • Seeing Straight in a Cross-Eyed World

The purpose of this presentation is for audience members to understand the importance of knowing that we each see the world and everything that happens in it through our own unique self. What is obvious to one person for one reason might be viewed and acted upon totally differently by someone else. Our past experiences, our personalities, our age, our interests, etc., all come into play in determining how we each view an idea, a decision, and the need to change. “Seeing Straight in a Cross-Eyed World” examines how sound, sight, words, past experiences, and even laughter and music can all play major factors in how well we communicate with each other. This basic understanding helps people be more patient and accepting of other people’s viewpoints and ideas, and helps groups work together more effectively. (Keynote)

  • Simple Truths in the Workplace and in Life

This presentation challenges audience members to consciously examine how they can be better at what they do daily in work and in life. Besides challenging people to think, he also incorporates laughter and reminds his audience that it is important to laugh often and loud. The simple truths help audience members each look at their own way of operating to see if they can tweak things to be healthier, happier, and better at what they do. Gary has presented this topic at corporate events and IAFE sponsored events from coast to coast. (Keynote)

Gary Berg has had an interesting career path to date. After attaining his undergraduate and graduate degrees, he started his first career as a college teacher and administrator at the age of 23. After nine years in that field, he made the big switch to entrepreneur and started his own company that has allowed him to work with and attend literally hundreds of state and county fairs all over the United States. He knows about many of the issues facing volunteers and staff members operating these events today. Gary has presented at many IAFE-sponsored conferences and workshops throughout the country.

Larry Berry (Florida)

  • 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 set of skillsets 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 1.” I believe in treating your team members as number 1, and if you do, they will in turn treat your guests and customers as number 1. 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 experience.  

 Larry 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 International Association of Fairs and Expos, 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. 

Michael Bradley (California)

  • Think Like Walt Disney, the Man That Turned Fun into an Empire!

Learn how the Master did the impossible and how he turned dreams into reality. More importantly, how this can apply to your fair – big or small. Walt’s methods can work anywhere. This presentation will unveil the Top 10 Disney methods that will transform your guest experience, enhance your fairgrounds, add today’s technology, and provide simple solutions that create big Impact. Walt was a dreamer, a realist, and his own best critic. Fairs today can apply his methods to Agriculture and Livestock areas, food and beverage locations, marketing, entertainment venues, children’s programs, exhibit spaces, signage, landscaping, main gates, parking lots, and even restrooms.


  • Imagine Tomorrow 2035! The Exciting Future of Showcasing “Agriculture” at Fairs!

What will our agriculture and livestock programs resemble in 2025, 2030 or 2035? What future technologies, innovations and new options be available to us? How can we reinvent ourselves and create effective, dramatic agricultural programing at fairs that engages our guests and inspires them to better understand how food is grown and delivered?  Hear about the current and future cutting-edge opportunities and real solutions that will reinvent your agricultural showcase targeted at fair guests. Learn how we can create impact and implement an effective and honest approach to communicating effectively with consumers and provide them with an unexpected “experience” that will provide a lasting and positive impression. Learn how to apply the trends, the solutions, the Technologies, and the best management practices for these fair programs that define who we are. (Keynote or workshop)

  • The Ten Commandments of Vision Development and Strategic Planning for Fairs – Managing Opportunities and Creating a Success Story

All fairs and expositions must deal with change within an ever-evolving competitive business environment. Necessary change is hard but inevitable. The most difficult part of change is always managing the process. This presentation will draw upon the ten steps to success in Strategic Planning specifically for our industry. Large or small, county, state, provincial, or national, we need to clearly define objectives, formulate our “team,” and create strategies for results, not just discussion. Learn the rules to achieve attainable, measurable results, keep the process simple, and enjoy the ride. (Workshop)

  • The Future of Fairs and How Change Will Improve Your Annual Fair, Increase Revenue and Fairgrounds Usage

Change is the very word that we all fear. It also is the word that defines our future and success. This presentation outlines how fairs can take advantage of current and lasting trends and growth industries that should and must take place at fairs. Hear how we should be addressing a remarkable tomorrow and what technology will bring; how we can address the opportunities that are within the food delivery system sector and agricultural production; See the newest in food, beverage, and lifestyle; the transportation and communication industry; healthcare advances; what the fairgoer reacts to and how we can benefit from creativity? It can be done! Hear what you can do as we enter this new and exciting world of change.

Engage in Fair and facility elements that will improve and advance your organization include Parking, Food, Carnival, Competitive Programs, Payment Transaction, Communication, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Technology, Energy, Agriculture Programs, Livestock, Transportation, New Partners. Experiential Entertainment, Commercial programs and feature exhibits. (Keynote)

  • The Top 10 Farm, Food and technology Showcasing Trends, Ag Education Options and Opportunities for Fairs

Agriculture in our world is on the threshold of significant change. We live in unique times. Consumers have reached a level of passion that demands knowledge of where their food comes from and how it was grown. That passion is an opportunity for fairs which are the natural (and historic) showplace for everything farm, food, and farmer. Food retailers have reached a new dimension for marketing. Fairs can learn from them. Local can be defined in a multiplicity of ways. Learn the ins and outs of demographics, great food and farmer programming, marketing opportunities, current and future food trends, as well as the resources for making your fair a farm to fork showplace. Women of all ages impact our consumer habits and move the needle of our buying habits – learn how this will both impact and benefit fairs. (Keynote or Workshop)

  • First ImpressionsThe Parking Lot Is the Most Important Part of Your Fair (Why first and last impressions can last a lifetime)

First impressions can make or break an event as do last impressions. They are of measurable importance and can establish a guest’s entire experience. Learn how to be intentional about creating positive impressions. You will hear the top 10 methods for inspiring your guest, how important creature comforts are and what we can do as fairs to keep customers coming back year after year for generations. (Workshop)

  • Create the Unexpected Experience!

Fairs can create experiences like no other event. There are, however, opportunities to copy, steal and borrow from other events outside the fair business to make any fair extraordinary. Hear the top ten ideas to create something unexpected and establish programming that will create exceptional results. (Workshop)

  • Women Make All the Decisions in the World! How Fairs Can Learn from This Powerful Demographic

Women are often dynamic leaders of change & clearly dominate consumer spending habits. They care about and engage in communities and arguably determine the outcome of each generation. Fairs must begin to understand that this demographic also dictates the spending habits and attendance frequency at our annual event as well as non-fair programs. Learn how you can adapt to related marketing trends, millennial decision making and the expectations of those driving fair attendance and making decisions for the family and how they influence the entire population.  (Keynote or Workshop)

  • Are We Listening? How Does Our Customer Look at the Fair?

Hear our different segments of the population look at The Fair – from their perspective, not ours!  The Millennials, Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z , the Boomers and The Silent Generation. What do “they” want to see, experience, buy, participate in, and eat. How does each group approach technology, communication, lifestyle, digital response, entertainment, social media, and traditions? What drives each group to attend and return to the fair? How do we adjust our Marketing and specifically our Ag programs to fit their perspective and provide meaningful experiences that translate to repeat customers and increased revenue. (Keynote or Workshop)

Michael Bradley operates MHB Productions, a Fairs and events management consulting business and is an active keynote speaker addressing a wide range of subjects including Visionary Fair Programing, fundraising, leadership, youth development, agriculture awareness and education and current issues related to fairs and festivals throughout North America. He has traveled to Hong Kong, South Korea, and mainland China on behalf of several Universities and the IAFE to develop training programs for exposition professionals in Asia. He has provided keynote addresses in more than 25 U.S. states and four Canadian Provinces. Representing four decades of fair industry experience, He is the immediate past director of the Fairs and Expositions Management Program at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. This is a one-of-a-kind career development program offers undergraduate educational platforms, Post Graduate certifications and professional development training for industry professionals, Fair Boards, and affiliates. Michael served as the Chief Executive Officer of the California Mid State Fair and Paso Robles Event Center. He was the Executive Director for the Arizona National Livestock Show, Inc., Division Manager at the California Farm Bureau Federation and served as a member of the Executive Team with the California Exposition and State Fair for 28 years. Bradley is a past chair for the California FFA Foundation (representing 100,000 members). He has served as a Board Member of the Western Fairs Association, is a 33 -year member of the Advisory Committee for the Animal Science Department at California Polytechnic State University and a founding Board Member of the Kautz Ironstone Concours Foundation. Bradley also serves as a member of the California Department of Food and Agriculture Fairs Advisory Committee, the Golden State Education Foundation Board, and the San Luis Obispo County YMCA. He is a recipient of the WFA Blue Ribbon award, The Ag in the Classroom Outstanding Service award, and the Livestock Market Digest Top 25 Individuals in the livestock Business award. He and his wife Kimberly live in Paso Robles, Calif.

Barney Cosner, CFE (Wyoming)

  • Youth Shows: The Real Agriculture Question???

Are fairs’ youth livestock shows the real agriculture story we need to present?

Barney Cosner, CFE, was introduced to fairs at an early age, as he was the “ears” for his deaf father at the beef cattle and sheep show rings at the state fair. Over the next 20 years, Barney became more enamored with fairs and shows, from the county and state fairs to the national shows. Barney has had the privilege of being a staff member of fairs in Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, and Wyoming (twice). He has also judged at and worked with fairs and shows in 11 states, from California to Massachusetts and Montana to Texas. These opportunities allowed him to experience several types of boards and the governance in place at the various fairs and shows. Experiences with the scars to verify and prove it! Cosner’s background and life can be summed up with “Once A Cowboy, Always A Cowboy!” as he was raised on a ranch, producing beef and lamb in northeastern Wyoming – the cowboy state. Barney was very involved in 4-H and FFA in the formative years, becoming a sheep herder with his sheep projects. He attended the University of Wyoming, a Wyoming Cowboy, receiving his B.S. in Agricultural Economics; went on to become an Oklahoma State Cowboy, receiving his master’s and Doctorate in Agriculture Education.  (Keynote or Workshop)

Kathy Kramer (Washington)


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.

Jessica McLaughlin, 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.  Now serving as Fair Coordinator for the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center. 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 2 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.


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.

Katie Ockert (Michigan)

  • Animal Health Planning – A Systematic Approach to Preparing for, Responding to, and Recovering from Animal Health Situations at Fairs

Protecting both animal and human health is a main priority during fairs and exhibitions. With diseases such as avian influenza and swine influenza, among others, threatening animal and human populations in the past few years, it is imperative that tools and resources exist to support fair and exhibition planners in their efforts to protect both animal and human health. This presentation can assist fair managers, board members, and staff in learning how to plan for, respond to and recover from a variety of animal health situations that may occur at a local fair or exhibition through utilizing tools and resources jointly developed by MSU Extension, Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. (Workshop)

  • Biosecurity for Every Exhibitor

Biosecurity! The word itself can seem overwhelming BUT teaching exhibitors easy and simple to implement practices can help preserve the health and safety of animals, exhibitors, and visitors to your fair. In this comprehensive training, participants will have the opportunity to learn simple, yet effective, biosecurity principles and how to encourage exhibitors to practice biosecurity before, during, and after their fair experience! (Workshop)

Ä Katie Ockert – has been an Extension Educator with Michigan State University since 2005. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Natural Resources Communication with a specialization in Animal Science from Michigan State University and her Master of Public Administration degree specializing in Homeland Security from Penn State University. She specializes in teaching common sense approaches to livestock biosecurity that families can easily implement and practice. She also actively supports Michigan fairs and Extension staff in developing their fair animal health plans by advising them through the planning process, helping identify partnerships, and helping them evaluate how their plans worked.

Bill Ogg, CFE (Nebraska)

  • Let’s Be Champions of Agriculture!

Fairs bear the serious responsibility to be agriculture educators but moreover have the awesome opportunity to be the community showcase for the wholesome and affordable food source available in North America. Watch sobering videos of well-funded organizations attacking production agriculture and learn of resources and partnerships to provide truthful positive information. Fairs should be the trusted source of the accurate and proactive message of agriculture. This workshop will use contemporary examples of engaging agricultural activities with real life experiences and best practices to bridge this challenge to the fair’s advantage and serve the mission to be a champion of agriculture.

  • Carpe Diem

Seize the Day. In this case, seize the opportunity to tap into decades of experience. 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 believes he 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 programming and financial position and better serve the constituency it represents. This workshop can be an extemporaneous question and answer session or can be 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’s straight forward communication style will openly lead discussion with respect for differing opinions and confidentiality.

  • Corn Dogs and Elephant Ears

For every staff, board or service member perennially committed as vocation or labor of passion, the fair business is addictive – and can be tiring. To remain effective professionally and 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 keynote or motivational workshop is guaranteed to make you think some, laugh a lot and excitedly squeal “we, we, we” all the way home – eager to work hard and cooperate to make the upcoming fair 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.

  • Successful Livestock Events for Exhibitors and Fairgoers

Fairs, stakeholders, and exhibitors must work cohesively to successfully plan a relevant livestock show. BUT what is relevant? Expectations may have shifted during the pandemic. 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 an independent show compared to a show within a county or state fair? A discussion with stakeholders, 4-H, FFA, fair staff/volunteers and livestock superintendents, can lead to successfully planning a relevant event.

Bill Ogg, CFE, is Executive Director Emeritus for the Nebraska State Fair.

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) 

Ä Beth Pomije is excited to be celebrating her 18th year of helping Fairgoers shop ‘til they drop at the Wisconsin State Fair. Currently holding the title of Vendor Services Account Manager, she is primarily responsible for programming a 200,000-square-foot Exposition Center, three outdoor marketplaces, and a number of open layout areas, totaling over 400 commercial vendor locations for the annual Wisconsin State Fair. In 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 two passions of teaching and the Fair industry every chance she gets through industry speaking opportunities, school career days, and her involvement in the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs program. She serves as Past-Chair of the IAFE Young Professionals Initiative Steering Committee, Vice-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 (5) and Masey (1). 

Aaron Putze (Iowa)

  • Shift Down. Pedal Down. Make the Next Fair Your Best Fair!

Go from good to great… one gear, one turn, one decision, one relationship at a time. Bring out the best in you and the events you lead by leaning in to growing personally and professionally. Be entertained and inspired as Aaron Putze brings to life five practical and actionable keys to shifting to a new gear. Aaron’s game-changing advice and stories come from personal experiences and conversations with 27 amazing and notable personalities. His talk has delighted and motivated hundreds of audiences and will leave attendees with positive vibes and a spring in their step! Aaron’s audience-centric remarks and engaging format ideal for both a keynote and workshop! (Keynote or Workshop)

Raised on an Iowa farm, Aaron Putze learned first-hand the importance of hard work, keeping your word, delivering more than promised and treating others with respect. He strives to bring these qualities to daily living and audiences nationwide as a husband, father, friend, co-worker, speaker, author, and veteran ag communicator. Aaron has always been intrigued by those who lead with positivity, empathy and humility and give maximum effort. These qualities define successful people, organizations, and associations. He’s a popular speaker, work-life coach, and author of two books including YOU Are Destined for Greatness: Stories of Inspiration & Empowerment. It reveals 16 themes that drive successful thinking and action distilled from conversations with more than 25 inspiring personalities. Aaron is an accredited PR professional, Rotarian, and volunteer. He’s a huge fan of county fairs and the Iowa State Fair, the outdoors, traveling, gardening, and spending time with family. Aaron and his wife Crystal and children Garrett, Grant, and Jaelyn (JAY-lin) live in Waukee, Iowa.

Orvel Ronk (South Carolina)

  • Active Shooter: Is Your Fair Prepared for the Unthinkable?

                During this presentation we will discuss the three phases of an active shooter incident; 1) How to reduce the         risk by understanding warning signs, how to prepare your fairgrounds, and having a plan.  2) React to the                 incident utilizing Escape-Evade-Counter techniques.  3) Recover from the incident by knowing how to work                               with the media, lawsuits, PTSD, and continuity of operations.  (Workshop)

  • What Is Your Plan?

                The Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is the backbone of your emergency/crisis program.  We will cover what                 should be included in your EAP,  how to make it specific to your fair, and how to use it to create a                  comprehensive emergency action program. (Workshop)

  • Are You Doing Everything You Can To Make Your Fairgrounds Secure?

                We all want our fairs to be safe but also a family friendly environment, fairgrounds don’t have to look like a                 prison to be safe.  In this presentation we will discuss how to configure gates for security and operational                 efficiency.  We will also discuss the different roles of law enforcement officers and security personnel as well       as how to use direct and passive security measures to achieve a safe family event.  (Workshop)

Orvel Ronk is the CEO/President of RONK Security Solutions, LLC., specializing in Security Consulting, Emergency Action Planning, Facility Assessments, and Active Shooter mitigation, response, and recovery.  Orvel is a retired U.S. Marine Scout/Sniper and Small Arms Weapons Instructor.  After retiring from the Marine Corps, he went back to work for the Dept. of Defense as a Security Operations Manager and Antiterrorism Specialist where he supervised the security of high-level facilities and conferences both in the U.S. and overseas. Orvel was also once again employed by the Marine Corps as a Civil Service employee assigned as the Regional Antiterrorism Program Manager, Contingency Planning Program Manager, and Operations Security Program Manager.  During this time, he was responsible for supervising the security of numerous Marine Corps bases in the National Capital Region as well as events such as the Marine Corps Marathon and Dept. of Defense Warrior Games.  Orvel developed and taught the Active Shooter program for the Marine Corps National Capital Region Command (Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland).  Since starting RONK Security Solutions in 2017, Orvel has worked with numerous state and county fairs providing security consulting, emergency action planning, facility assessments, and active shooter training.  He has also performed many presentations (in person and webinar) for a variety of organizations in many different industries. 

Brienna Schuette, 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.


  • Customer Service Is the New Marketing

Explore how harmony between two critical components of your business can lead to increased sales, consumer advocacy and 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)

Ä 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 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 the 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 currently the 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 that 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)

  • Workshop: 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.

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.