Published On: Mon, Jun 17th, 2019

South Florida Fair CEO Calling It Quits After More Than Three Decades

Rick Vymlatil

Boca Raton, FL  — After a successful 37-year career in the fair industry, Rick Vymlatil is retiring at the end of this month. A Certified Fair Executive, he has served as the president & CEO of the South Florida Fair & Palm Beach County Expositions, Inc. since July 2004.

Vymlatil began his fair career in November 1982 as assistant general manager of the South Florida Fair. He also served as manager of the St. Lucie County Fair in Fort Pierce for almost three years and as executive director of the Florida State Fair in Tampa for eight years. In 2018, he served as Board Chair of the International Association of Fairs & Expositions, Inc. (IAFE).  The IAFE is an organization representing the interests of over 100 member fairs in North America.

“The South Florida Fair and its employees and volunteers have been a wonderful second family to me and I’m proud of what we’ve all been able to accomplish during my time here,” said Vymlatil.

Vymlatil’s accomplishments during his tenure as the fair’s top leader have included:
•    Completion of more than $17.5 million dollars in capital improvements to the fair’s facilities and equipment including the addition of a new Fair Operations and Hospitality building in 2016.
•    As a non-profit organization with no recurring public support, business practices and contracts were renegotiated to maximize the organization’s revenue potential.
•    Added one of the fair’s most successful promotions in its history with $2 Tuesdays, increasing weekday attendance and providing the most economical option for residents to visit the annual South Florida Fair.
•    The fair’s historic area, Yesteryear Village, was opened on a year-round basis.
•    Increased the fair’s public persona by encouraging staff involvement in other area organizations and by making the fair’s facilities available to more community based service and charitable organizations.
•    Expanded existing relationships with Palm Beach County government and the School District of Palm Beach County.

As for Vymlatil’s replacement, history is being made. For the first time in the South Florida Fair’s 107-year history, a woman will be serving as the president & CEO. Vicki Chouris, CFE, has been with the South Florida Fair since 1985.

Chouris said, “Rick set a great example of what leadership should be and I’m looking forward to leading our staff of more than 50 employees. It’s an honor to serve in this capacity, especially knowing that I’m the first woman who has been appointed to this position.”

Additional staff changes include the addition of Becky Brashear, CFE, as the new business development director. A veteran fair professional for three decades, Brashear most recently was the chief operating officer at The Maryland State Fair in Timonium and served as the IAFE’s chair in 2017.

Other changes in the new organizational structure include Rita De Mier-Lincoln, director of brand management; Matthew Daly, CFE, director of operations; Cindy Bennett, director of finance; and Paige Poole is in the new position of education and community relations manager. Matt Wallsmith will continue in his role as vice president. Also new to the team is Meghan Garcia, agricultural and livestock area manager.

About the South Florida Fair – The South Florida Fair is produced by the South Florida Fair/Palm Beach County Expositions, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Located at 9067 Southern Boulevard in West Palm Beach, the 2020 South Florida Fair will kick off with its Ride-A-Thon at 5 p.m. on Jan. 16 and the full fair will be held Jan. 18 – Feb. 2. For more information, call (561) 793-0333 or visit the website, http://www.southfloridafair.com.

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