State fair board seeking two GMs to run expo, convention centers

The Kentucky Exposition Center is one of two state-owned properties the Kentucky State Fair Board oversees. | Photo by Steve Magruder

Kentucky Venues president and CEO Jason Rittenberry’s successor may not be hired for some time.

Instead, the Kentucky State Fair Board voted Thursday to search for two general managers, one to oversee the Kentucky Exposition Center and the other to run the Kentucky International Convention Center.

“At some point in time, we will then go after a new president and CEO, but we need to get someone in place rapidly,” said Dr. Mark Lynn, chair of the state fair board. “It’s a much tougher position to fill to get somebody who has the experience to handle everything we do.”

Rittenberry submitted his resignation on Sept. 1 after less than two years in the role. Since then, Lynn has taken over day-to-day management of Kentucky Venues. Rittenberry will remain a consultant until Dec. 31.

The Kentucky International Convention Center has had a general manager in the past, but the person stepping into the role of general manager at the Kentucky Exposition Center would be the first to hold that title.

Lynn said he hopes to put out employment offers for the two positions within the next 30 to 40 days. He has an idea of what the general managers will be offered but declined to say, noting that the amounts have not received final approval from the state.

“We’ve had many, many resumes coming in” from all across the United States since Rittenberry’s resignation became public, Lynn said, and he is hopeful that the committees will find qualified candidates.

He added that someone who’s already submitted an application very well could be qualified for the president and CEO position, but that filling that role isn’t the current focus.

“We have immediate needs, immediate demands on our time,” Lynn said.

The Kentucky Exposition Center regularly holds events throughout the year, including this week’s Mecum Auction, and the Kentucky International Convention Center is undergoing a more than $200 million renovation that will wrap up next summer.

In his resignation letter, Rittenberry said he was leaving the position to spend more time with his wife and children who live in Nashville.

“My first priority is to be a very active and present parent to my son and daughter,” he wrote.