Strongin honored by state Fair AssociationBy Bruce Whetten
Cochise County Fairgrounds Manager Karen Strongin was recently honored by the Arizona Fairs Association for her dedication and outstanding service.
Strongin has been part of the local fair association for the past 14 years working to provide Cochise County a wide variety of entertainment.
She began as a part-time employee for former fairgrounds manager John Meeks and eight years ago took over the duties as the fairgrounds manager.
“It’s been a great experience,” she said. “There have been some really good people to work with.”
For the first time in her tenure as fairgrounds manager Strongin was faced with a difficult decision when it was decided to not hold horse racing this year at the Cochise County Fairgrounds.
She was employed by the fair association in 1999 the first time it was decided to not have any horse races ending a streak of 43 consecutive years.
Looking back on that year Strongin said she was still learning and didn’t really understand what it took to put on the races. Now having been involved with the horse racing association she’s come to learn there’s more to putting on the races than people realize.
Strongin said the Arizona Fairs Association holds a convention each November.
“It’s made up of about 250 different people, companies and entities anyone who has anything to do with fairs,” she said. “This is not an award that is given out every year. … I was extremely shocked when I found out I was to receive this award. The people I had voted for I was sure were going to get it.”
Strongin also holds numerous other titles in not only the AFA but also the Arizona County Racing Association. She was just recently appointed to the Arizona Livestock and Agricultural Commission.
“I’ve been active in representing the Cochise County Fair statewide for a good six years,” she said. “I’ve gotten to know people and made some contacts that made the fair better.”
Kelly Watkins, manager for the Yuma County Fair and past winner of the AFA Award, played a role in helping Strongin get recognized.
“Karen since she started has jumped right in and held almost every office in the AFA,” he said. “She’s been really involved and a great asset to the association. … This is a very prestigious award.”
Watkins said the AFA does not give out the award every year.
“It’s usually done when someone deserves it,” he said.
Watkins says he and Strongin have a good working relationship. He describes her as a hard working, caring individual and says the two often talk about what’s going on in Douglas and Yuma and what they can do to make their fairs better.
“I can tell you her heart is in it 100 percent,” he said. “I think she’s doing a great job.”
Strongin is diligently working on getting things ready for the Cochise County Fair scheduled to take place Sept. 24-27.