Updated: Aug 17
Meet Teresa Burrola, CEO of the Merced County Fairgrounds!
Teresa was born in Eureka, California, moving several times before her parents settled in Merced the summer before her freshman year in High School. She attended Merced High School and Merced Junior College. In 1978, Teresa started working for Farmers Insurance and a year later she met her husband, Chris. In 1981 Teresa and Chris got married, had two children, Robert and Candice, and are now blessed with two grandchildren, Christopher and Inez.
In 1998, when Farmers Insurance announced their closure, Teresa started a temporary position at the Merced County Fair as an office assistant. Six months later she was hired as a full-time Office Technician, promoted to Business Assistant, and in 2016 she became the Chief Executive Officer running the day-to-day operations of the Merced County Fairgrounds.
INTERVIEW W/ TERESA BURROLA
What is the importance of kids showing livestock and how can that shape their future?
"These past two years with COVID and having a 2020 virtual sale, you realize the importance of kids showing livestock in person. To watch them come out in 2021 to show their animals in person, work side-by-side with their friends, experience teamwork, interact with the judges, listen to their FFA Advisors and 4-H Leaders, truly shapes them for leadership roles in our community."
How has the Ag industry impacted your life?
"The Ag industry has truly impacted my life in such a positive way. Our children were 4-H members, our daughter was very involved with FFA. They grew up showing swine animals at the Fair. I still enjoy going out to the Hilmar Cheese Barn to see the swine projects every year. Who would have thought it would have led me to working at the Fairgrounds and supporting Ag Education to future generations. At the same time, I feel so lucky to fulfill my passion for event planning, as I get to plan the largest event in Merced County with a great team of talented individuals."
What do you enjoy most about your job?
"What I like most about my job, would have to be the people. We get to be part of people's major life events whether it be wedding reception, quinceañera, or simply attending the annual Fair. I love that we make memories. I still have photos of when my own children rode the ponies at the Fair, and now I have photos of my grandchildren."
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
"The accomplishment I'm most proud of in my personal life would have to be my family, they are what truly matters. In my work life, it would have to be receiving the Western Fairs Association Blue Ribbon Award presented to me at the 2021 Merced County Fair Livestock Show and Sale by the Merced County Fair Board of Directors. They are an amazing team to work for. They are extremely supportive of our Fairgrounds and the community we serve. It is a true labor of love."
Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
"The person who had the biggest influence in my career was Cheryl Davidson, prior CEO of the Merced County Fair. She was the one who hired me as a temporary worker. She taught me about the fair industry. And to this day, we are great friends and attend the annual Western Fair Convention together. In all, I worked under four different CEOs and I appreciate everything I learned from each one of them."
Who was the most influential person to you as a child?
"As a child, my father was the most influential person. He was hard working, had a great sense of humor, and put his faith and family above all else."