Fresno Fair CEO Lauri King leaves for position with Fresno State

The Big Fresno Fair will jumpstart its search for a new CEO just one year after King took over.

The Big Fresno Fair is once again on the search for a new CEO as Lauri King is departing for a position at Fresno State. 

King’s departure – which was first reported by The Business Journal on Wednesday – comes shortly after a state audit alleged a pay-to-play scheme at the fair. 


The big picture: King’s new role will be as the director of development for Fresno State’s Ag One Foundation. 

  • The Ag One Foundation raises money to support scholarships and the university’s agriculture programs, having brought in over $27 million in endowed funds since its inception in 1979. 

The backstory:King was named as the CEO of the Big Fresno Fair one year ago after serving as co-CEO alongside Stacy Rianda since Sep. 2020, when former CEO John Alkire retired. 

  • King helped shepherd the fair through the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the transition to a drive-thru event in 2020. 
  • She first started working for the Big Fresno Fair in 2003 under then-CEO Scott Anderson and worked her way up with Alkire in charge. 

The audit: In May, the California Department of Food and Agriculture released an audit that included an alleged pay-to-play scheme with its nonprofit foundation from 2020 to 2021.  

  • The audit found that the 21st District Agricultural Association improperly agreed to over $550,000 in payments that were made to the Friends of the Big Fresno Fair Foundation. Those payments required contractors to donate funds directly to the foundation, which was effectively a pay-to-play scheme. 
  • King was not named in the audit.
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