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Bobby Jenks Named Permanent Fair Manager
Bobby Jenks
Bobby Jenks of Vale, North Carolina, has been unanimously elected to serve as the Permanent Manager of North Carolina's largest and oldest County Fair. Jenks was selected to serve as the Interim Manager of the Fair on July 31, 2013, following the sudden and unexpected resignation of the former Manager, Calvin Hastings.
Andy Elmore, Chairperson of the Fair's Board, said, "Bobby did an incredible and totally professional job in serving the Fair as our interim manager and in fact had only 30 days to prepare for the return of the HAMFEST this past Labor Day weekend and less than 90 days to prepare for the 89th consecutive Fair in September." Elmore added, "honestly, the exceptional and extraordinary work provided by Bobby on such short notice convinced every Board member that we had selected the right person to lead our Fair forward toward our 100th anniversary in 2024. Bobby is a long-term veteran of fair operations, and he has fully established those credentials with us since July."
Jenks is President of Jenks Concessions. Jenks Concessions is a member of the National Independent Concessionaires Association (NICA) and has been providing first quality specialty foods for hundreds of state and county fairs since 1978. Jenks Concessions provides a variety of specialty fair food products such as popcorn, sausage and funnel cakes that are served from custom food trailers at area and regional fairs. Jenks has also served the Cleveland County Fair since 2002 as the Concession Locations Supervisor and has been an enthusiastic vendor at the Cleveland County Fair for more than 37 years. Jenks graduated from West Lincoln High School in 1967 and was a vegetable farmer in Vale from 1962 to 1978.
In accepting the permanent position as the new Fair Manager, Jenks said, "my dad and I have worked on these Fairgrounds for more than half a century and this selection feels like a homecoming for me and my family." Jenks added that his son, Ashley Jenks, will take full control of the day-to-day operations of Jenks Concessions so that he can devote his full time and attention to "fair business." "This is my one and only job other than serving my Lord and my family," said Jenks.
Jenks also stated that his primary objective will be "to preserve and maintain the heritage, history and integrity of the Cleveland County Fair." One of his first official acts will be to make a recommendation to the full Board to change the name of the non-profit organization to "The Cleveland County Agricultural Fair Association." Jenks stated that this Fair was organized to celebrate "the agricultural history of Cleveland County and we need to return the Fair to those roots."
The Jenks family has a long history with state and local fairs. Jenks received extensive training from his father, Farrell Jenks, who previously worked for more than 60 years as the Vendor Locations Supervisor for the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh and worked with the late Doc Dorton in the same position at the Cleveland County Fair. Ferrell Jenks was also the 1995 recipient of the Holmes/McBride Humanity Award, awarded by the North Carolina Association of Agricultural Fairs each year to individuals who have made a difference to the entire fair industry in North Carolina.
Bobby Jenks attends the Faith Olive Baptist Church and is on the Board of Directors of the annual Lincoln County Apple Festival. He is also a member of the International Independent Showman's Association, the North Carolina Association of Agriculture Fairs, and the Fallston Masonic Lodge #356. Bobby has been married to Jean Rhoney Jenks for 45 years. Their son, Ashley, is the Chief Operating Officer of Jenks Concessions, and their daughter, Angela, is a Behavior-Mental Health Liaison employee with the Cleveland County School System.
Elmore concluded that the Fair had been "blessed" to have someone with the character and the business knowledge of Jenks available and willing to serve as the permanent Manager of the Fair. "We are looking forward to a great year in 2014 and with Bobby's leadership we believe that all of the old and the new events at the Fair will be the best ones we have ever had." Elmore also noted that most if not all of their older vendors and events will be returning to the fairgrounds in 2014 and that Bobby has many new events on the drawing board. "Bobby literally sleeps and breathes the Cleveland County Fair," said Elmore.

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