FAIRBANKS — Jill Falldin should feel right at home in her job as the new general manager of the Tanana Valley State Fair.
“I love organized chaos,” Falldin said. “I thrive on it.”
Falldin, who officially took over the position on March 14, said the last two weeks have been a whirlwind as she prepared for the Tanana Valley State Fair Association’s annual membership meeting on Thursday, which featured the unveiling of this year’s fair theme — Salmonenchanted Evening — and logo, as well as a food vendor challenge to decide who will be the fair’s newest food concessionaire.
“We’ve been running rampant around here,” she said. “Every day is so totally different.” Falldin, 45, served on the fair association’s board of directors for the last year, so she knew a little bit about what she was getting into, which is why she hesitated to apply.
“When I was first told about the position, I thought, no way, I can’t do that,” she said.
But the more Falldin thought about it, the more the job appealed to her. “I was kind of done with banking and wanted to move on to something more involved in the community and more fun,” said Falldin, who spent the last 6 1/2 years working as a financial sales officer for Northrim Bank.
So far, so good, she said.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Falldin, who replaced Randi Carnahan as fair manager. Her first order of business will be to oversee the paving of the fairgrounds this summer, she said. The fair association received a $750,000 grant from the Americans with Disabilities Act to do the job. A contractor will be breaking ground the job this spring and it should be finished by the time the fair rolls around on Aug. 2.
“This fall the inside is going to be fully paved, including the midway,” she said. “It won’t matter if it rains; you’re not going to get muddy anymore.”
The fair association is also adding parking for people with disabilities at all gates, and there will be more benches and picnic tables situated around the fairgrounds this year, she said. Wheelchairs will also be available, she said. “We’re trying to make it more family friendly,” she said. “Right now there’s really no place to sit and relax except on the ground, and that’s not acceptable.”
The theme for this year’s fair, Salmonenchanted Evening, was one of several the fair association put on its Facebook page for the public to vote on, and it was the clear winner, she said. Local artists Bill Howe and Amanda Bent came up with the graphics for the logo.
Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587.