By Tim Tesconi
Tawny Tesconi, manager of the Sonoma County Fair and a respected leader in the West Coast fair industry, was inducted into the Western Fairs Association’s Hall of Fame for her ongoing contributions to the fair industry.
Tesconi received the Hall of Fame Award on Jan. 11 at the Western Fairs Association’s annual convention in Anaheim. The Hall of Fame induction was part of the Industry Awards Celebration on the last day of the four-day convention attended by fair officials from the Western States and Canada. A number of Sonoma County Fair directors and many of Tesconi’s friends from Sonoma County and throughout California were in Anaheim for the awards presentation.
“This award is presented for service to our industry, but I feel like whatever little things I have done for Western Fairs Association can’t possibly repay my debt of gratitude to the Fairs for making me who I am and for gracing me with this wonderful community of friends and family,” said Tesconi.
Meanwhile, the Sonoma County Fair, the county’s largest attraction and a summer institution that last year celebrated its 75th anniversary, won 26 Western Fairs’ Achievement Awards at the convention. The awards recognized the Sonoma County Fair’s programming, marketing and creativity in 2011. Among these honors are First Place awards recognizing ten Fair activities and exhibits, including the Fair’s 75th Anniversary Museum Exhibit, Diamond Jubilee Cattle Drive, and Children’s Programming. The Sonoma County Harvest Fair also received First Place as “Best non-fair event sponsored by a fairground.”
Tesconi has been manager of the Sonoma County Fair since 2008 and previously served as manager and chief executive officer of the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma. She holds a bachelor of science degree in agricultural and managerial economics from the University of California, Davis.
A Sonoma County native, she showed market and breeding animals at the Sonoma County Fair as a junior exhibitor and went on to work at the fair during her college years. She was a member of the Steuben 4-H and Santa Rosa FFA. She raised registered Suffolk sheep and registered Angus cattle and was active in leadership, public speaking, parliamentary procedure and livestock judging as a member of the 4-H and FFA.
Tesconi has worked in the fair industry for more than 20 years. She earned her the Certified Fair Executive distinction from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions.
During her two decade career in the fair industry, she was the CEO at the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee from 1990 to 1996 and assistant manager at Solano County Fair from 1987 to 1990. She is a 1987 graduate of the Western Fairs Association Management Training program.
From 1996-1999 she developed and directed the Resource Development program for Western Fairs Association and the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Division of Fairs and Expositions.
Tesconi is a member of Sonoma County Farm Bureau, Summit State Bank’s Community Advisory Board and the North Coast Chapter of California f Women for Agriculture. In 2007 she was awarded the Sonoma County Economic Development Board’s Spirit of Sonoma County Award for her community service.
In 2007 she served as president of the Western Fairs Association. Founded in 1922 and incorporated in 1945, Western Fairs Association is a non-profit trade association serving the fair industry throughout the Western United States and Canada. The association promotes the prosperity of fairs through educational activities, training programs, and legislative advocacy while encouraging the highest level of professional standards. The Hall of Fame, established in 1953, recognizes leadership and vision in the fair industry. More than 50 Fairs from throughout the United States and Canada compete for recognition at the WFA annual awards.
The 2012 Sonoma County Fair is scheduled for July 25 through August 12. Pre-sale discount tickets will be available for purchase in the late spring, and more information will be posted as details are available on the Fair’s website: www.sonomacountyfair.com.