Correction: Lori Hart is the interim general manager of the Kansas State Fair. Her name was misspelled in a previous version of the story.
Lori Hart keeps a list of all the fair foods she wants to eat before the end of the Kansas State Fair.
Hart will have a little less time to squeeze in her favorites – she especially enjoys the cornflake-crusted chicken – because the Fair Board appointed her interim general manager of this year’s event, slated for Sept. 11-20 in Hutchinson.
Her predecessor, Denny Stoecklein, accepted a position at Hutchinson Community College after leading the fair for the last 21 years, Hart said.
“We appreciate all Denny has done for the fair and having Lori serve as a very capable interim general manager allows our subcommittee the flexibility to properly fill this necessary position,” Fair Board chairman Harmon Bliss said Thursday in a news release.
Hart has been with the fair for 17 years, the last 12 as assistant general manager. She will oversee more than 25 full-time employees and an additional part-time staff of more than 550 during the fair.
More than 350,000 people attended the State Fair last year.
“Anytime you’re at an event like this, you always question yourself, ‘Could I do this?’” Hart said. “I thank the board for the opportunity. I feel like I can do this because of the staff.”
Hart noted the only downside to her appointment is the lack of a replacement for her former position, so staff will be down by one person this year.
A five-person subcommittee has been established to lead the search for a new general manager, though no specific time line for hiring has been set. The subcommittee includes Angie Clark, Virginia Crossland-Macha, Ron Hinrichsen, Brad Rayl and Tom Tunnell, according to a news release.
“A lot of folks in this industry are in the heat of their fairs right now,” Hart said, so the application process will not begin until after this year’s event and the approval of next year’s fair budget.
“Right now, we have a fair to get through,” Hart said.
Starting Aug. 31, Hart and her full-time staff will work 30 consecutive days. Barring any crises, she said, the team might get one day off.
“You’re lucky to get five or six hours of sleep,” she said.
Reach Kelly Meyerhofer at 316-268-6357 or firstname.lastname@example.org.