tampabay.com

New county fair manager takes reins

Hal Porter steps in to replace Jean Grant, who leaves "quite a legacy to follow."

By MARY ANN KOSLASKY
Published October 20, 2006


As the new Citrus County Fair manager, Hal Porter has some big shoes to fill.

Porter "loves the fair," said Fair Association board member Nell Mayberry. "And he loves the children."

Those are two big steps in the right direction.

On Monday, the fair board offered the job to Porter. On Tuesday, he was in the office doing what has to be done.

"I'm in a learning curve here," said Porter, 47. "I have quite a legacy to follow."

That legacy is Jean Grant, fair manager since 1976. Grant officially stepped down Sept. 30, assuming the title of fair manager emeritus.

Managing styles will "be a little bit similar," Porter said. "I've worked with her so long... But I'm not Jean Grant."

Porter's background allows him to understand the fair and what it is about. Born and raised in Citrus County, he showed calves as a child, then moved to horses and steers.

He remained active with the 4-H Council and then was elected to the Citrus County Fair Association board. He became president of the board and then livestock chairman. And that's where his first love lies.

"I'll miss some of the things that I used to do that were fun," he said. "But the people down there are extremely competent. They won't miss a beat."

Porter plans to "maintain the status quo" for now.

"The groundwork for the 2007 fair is in place," he said. "We may just have to fine tune a few things. I don't believe in making big changes quickly."

One thing Porter knows from past experience: This is not a standard 40-hour work week. Summer may be slow, but as the season heats up, the weeks can be 100 hours. Having put in his time in the past, Porter plans to do so now.

"I have to do exactly what it takes to get the job done," he said.

But "I don't believe any manager could function without a strong board.

"Our Fair Association board members are extremely dedicated," he said. "It gives me a lot of comfort moving into this job. It's all about we, not I."