Todd Guild/The Pajaronian Former Santa Cruz County Fair CEO Dave Kegebein (at the podium) addresses the Board

WATSONVILLE — In a tumultuous meeting packed with nearly 100 people, the newly transformed Santa Cruz County Fair Board appointed Don Dietrich as interim Fair CEO, a move that added another chapter to a story that began on Oct. 4 when the Board fired former CEO Dave Kegebein.

Immediately after the expected vote, Board member Stephanie Fontana took over as Board President.

In the wake of Kegebein’s dismissal, Board member Bill Barton resigned, as did Board Secretary Mary Bannister. 

The California Governor’s office on Friday abruptly terminated Board members Loretta Estrada and Jody Belgard, and replaced them by appointing Nick Calubaquib and Rachel Wells. 

Roughly one dozen speakers excoriated the Board for the decision, while praising Kegebein’s decade as CEO.

Under open meeting laws, elected leaders cannot respond to comments unless the issues brought forth are agendized. Dietrich asked that the comments be placed on the agenda for the next meeting, saying he would address them all then.

Kegebein was fired in a 7-2 vote after an audit by the California Department of Food and Agriculture showed he used a state-issued credit card for fuel for his truck. At issue was that he did not submit the receipts for approval.

In an address to the Board, Kegebein presented a check for $33,000 in repayment for the fuel, and handed the Board his response to the audit.

This story will be updated

Previous articleEarthquake shakes Central Coast
Next articleFire levels garage
General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA.


  1. Great job on Kegebein throwing a check in their faces. I see both sides of this story, and everyone is the a$$hole here in regard to tracking expenses.
    If the fairgrounds are doing as well off as they are boasting, buy a damn work truck for the next CEO!

    Always split personal and work, this includes vehicles, phones, tools, etc. Never comingle. Unfortunately, Kegebein learned this the hard way.

    Hopefully his replacement and the replacements on the board are better at managing accountability.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here