Brown County Fires Rookie Fair Manager

I suppose the good news is Karla Pfeifer didn’t die. But for the third time in four years, the Brown County Fair manager has been removed by a higher power:

Brown County Fair logo
How long can you last as Brown County Fair manager?

After five months on the job, Karla Pfeifer has been fired as manager of the Brown County Fair.

Brown County commissioners took the action this morning after Pfeifer refused to resign, saying it was against her principles [Shannon Marvel, “Fired Fair Manager Says She Did Nothing Wrong,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.08.25].

I don’t have past Brown County Fairs to compare, but I went to the fair five days this year and had a fine time. Whose sheep did Pfeifer kick?

After the meeting, she said she was given three reasons for being fired, none of them seeming particularly grievous. One that she forgot to order two trophies out of more than 100, she said. She said a commissioner also told her she didn’t submit two grant applications, but Pfeifer contends she turned in the applications.

“Quite frankly, I don’t remember the third one,” she said.

“I didn’t do anything wrong, so I’m not going to put my character and reputation on the line to accept the resignation offer when I feel that I did the best that I could,” Pfeifer said.

“I was a champion of change,” she said [Marvel, 2015.08.25].

I’m just guessing, but #3 could have had something to do with the Tuesday night ticket snafu, in which the grandstand box office ran out of $12 single-entry tickets and required folks in line to buy $55 all-event passes to attend that night’s rodeo. Of course, Brown County Commission chairman said back in May that it looked like county IT manager Paul Sivertsen’s new online ticket-vending website looked like it was “progressing nicely and things will work this year,” and neither Sutton nor Sivertsen have tendered resignations over the ticket snafu.

#3 could also have been Pfeifer’s own last statement about championing change. The Aberdeen American News says the Brown County Fair has a “that’s how we’ve always done it” mentality.

Whatever Pfeifer did to get fired, isn’t wasn’t a lack of trying. She busted her chops running her first fair on maybe four hours of sleep each night on an air mattress in her fair office. Of course, we all know there can be a difference between working up a sweat and working smart.

So who wants the job next year?

14 Responses to Brown County Fires Rookie Fair Manager

  1. I would say give her another chance.

    Running a fair, any fair, is hard work. if those are the two little whoops, she did pretty good

    So she made mistakes, I doubt anyone one the commissioners would do as well.

  2. happy camper

    Hopefully it won’t be too hard on her but we should all get fired at least once. In my case I tried to go back to work for the military as a civilian after completing an enlistment and then college. Those college teachers told me I had a brain to use, then the top down power structure wanted to treat me, well, the way a top down power structure often treats people. Best thing that could have happened although it didn’t feel so good at the time. Keep the spirit Ms. Pfeifer.

  3. Nancy Simon

    That Fair Board always has their panties in a knot over something. Nobody could work for them, imagine having 20 bosses all telling you to do something different. No thanks! Everyone I talked to had an awesome time, the proof is in the pudding my friends. Thankless job.

  4. Wasn’t the tech guy Sivertson charged with double billing the county? Guy must be connected.

  5. ‘would appear the systemic problem is the fair board . . . .

  6. I say double billing is a workable deal. Why not have ole Joop run the show? I smell Chinese cooking in the buffet tents now. Kimchi stew is a must. Joop had it while the Koreans were working on his scam there in AberDaber.

  7. when was she eligible for full benefits like the commissioners’?

  8. PlanningStudent

    The most important line in the post was the last one. People who work for elected bodies look at how they have treated employees in the past. This commission is sending a strong signal to possible applicants, and it’s not a good one. There is no blue print on running something as complicated as a county fair. If there were no SNAFUS I would suspect people weren’t paying close enough attention. Good luck to the next manager.

  9. not to her!

  10. David Newquist

    I am not acquainted with the current fair board, but up until a few years ago I was involved with them as we worked out booth contracts and facilities management. One problem was that some commercial exhibitors complained that crowds jammed the exhibition building aisles when people came to see candidates who were using our booth as a place to meet with constituents. Board members worked that situation out, as they did many others with which they were confronted. I do not recall the County Commission getting involved in running the fair other than to review the reports and consult on funds. There were, as many have pointed out above, problems, but they got solved. The fair board and the manager of the fair grounds worked hard and amiably to keep things running, which is the main factor in the success of the Brown County Fair.

    The question is who filed a complaint with the County Commission? We won’t know officially because the Commission will invoke the old confidentiality clause in personnel matters, but the way this was handled supports Ms. Pfeiffer’s contention that it’s all politics of a nature that the fair board has strenuously avoided in the past because they can harm the fair.

    We have a very political county commission now that it is run by a Republican majority. The philosophy has changed from cooperation and support in solving problems to exercising power and demonstrating it by screwing over people. This is the commission that is proposing to eliminate the recorder of deeds, the treasurer, and auditor as elected offices directly chosen by the people and to make them bureaucracies run by the commission. The handling of whatever transpired with Ms. Pfeiffer fits this pattern of power and control.

  11. So what politics would be at play here, David? Does Karla have any partisan political views outside of management of the fair? Or are we talking just internal fair politics, not doing something some VIP wanted?

  12. David Newquist

    I don’t know Karla, but I doubt that partisan views come into play. I am referring to pissing-level politics, not policies. From the way the Commission handled the matter, I assume that someone or some group wanted Ms. Pfeiffer gone, and rather than let the Fair Board work out any perceived problems, the Commission stepped in. It has become a very partisan agency, conferring privileges on cronies and punishing those who are not politically pleasing to them.

  13. Part of her problem I think was her having power trip, sometimes the way things were always done is okay, kicked my company out of the fair with no notice I am sure gave the spot to the person who wanted it last year and was told no. We had a spot there for 4 years and you always get the right to it the next year, but no. Then told me to talk to the people who ran the booth last year that they had talked to them about supposed violations, which was a lie, since I am the one who runs the lot there. Maybe part of the problem among others, just throwing that out there.

  14. Good to be rid of her. I don’t know to many workers who even seen her or herd anything from her during the fair. She is not a people person from what I noticed and in a position like that you better be!