By Nolan P. Smith
(Victorville)– As reported earlier in the month, the San Bernardino County Fair named High Desert native and SBC Fair employee Jennifer Monter as CEO. Monter steps into the role after former CEO Geoff Hinds stepped down as he became Chief Executive at Deschutes County Fair Grounds in Oregon. I had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Monter about her new position, about the fairgrounds, her plans for the future, and most importantly, about family.
Monter, 38, is a resident of Helendale and has worked for the fairgrounds for the past nine years.
“It was a huge honor,” said Monter regarding being named CEO. “When I first started here, I had a chair, a clipboard, and a pen, and that was my desk when they first brought me in for two days a week helping with the exhibits department. I never thought back then that I would be here, and I also didn’t even know the aspects of the fair. You don’t know, as an outsider, all the functions of the fair. After working with Geoff Hinds for one year, I straight up told him that one day, I wanted his chair. He said, “ let’s make it happen.” Over the last 5 ½ years, he has worked with me, showed me, mentored me pretty much. If I retire from this position, I would be happy with that.”
Monter has seen the fair grow in her nine years, improving and expanding every year. When it comes to her vision of the fair, it isn’t so much about fixing anything, but more of keeping the positive momentum going from Hinds’ previous term.
“I wouldn’t say things haven’t worked in the past, over the past six years we have really enhanced operations, events, everything with this fairground,” said Monter. “My goal is to keep the momentum going. We have worked on the curb appeal, making it more attractive to the community, so to continue that curb appeal. Also, bringing in the events that the community up here wants. Being very diverse, and making sure there is something fun to do every weekend for everybody and anybody that wants to come.”
Monter credited the entire team at the fair for creating such a wonderful atmosphere filled with positive changes and improvements. One aspect Monter was extremely passionate about is something that every High Desert resident has heard or said at some point and time: there is nothing to do in the High Desert.
“I want to eliminate the thought that there is nothing to do up here,” said Monter. “There is always something to do at the fair. So working hand and hand with our promoters and the community and letting them know there is something to do- it is safe, it is secure, and it is almost always family-friendly.”
Monter shared that beginning in September; there is something to do every weekend, which runs until mid- November. Of course, that is when holiday events start to take place. One event is making its return this year to the fair, and it is just around the corner.
“We are bringing the haunted house back, which is something very exciting,” said Monter. “We have been working on it since July. We teamed with All Saints Asylum out in Apple Valley, and they are handling the construction and management of the actual haunted house itself.”
Monter also mentioned the return of the Rock Revival Music Fest on October 5th. It was very successful last year and was actually a self-sponsored event. CFL, which is the Rockin MMA which just held an event in August, will be returning in November. Mainstays like the Gun Show will be back in September, as well as Monster Trucks, which make their return in October. Among all of that is preparation for the 2020 fair.
When asked what the fair meant to her and what she wants it to means to the community, her words can be summed up into one: family.
“For me, it means home and family,” said Monter. “I do consider this place my second home. Being here for nine years, we continue to grow. Because we are a family, there is that vibe amongst the team. I wake up every morning, happy to come to work. For the community, when they walk through the gates, we try to instill that this is the community’s home as well, when they come in we want them to feel like it is a second family.”
For more information and details on upcoming events, call 760-951-2200 or visit www.sbcfair.com.