Rob O’Connor’s agricultural background will serve him well as the new general manager of the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba, according to outgoing CEO Karen Oliver.
As of Feb. 17, O’Connor will replace Oliver, who announced in October she would be stepping down.
"Leaving the helm of the Provincial Ex is bittersweet," Oliver said in a press release Friday.
"As much as I love fairs, I’m excited to have someone come on board with a fresh perspective and new ideas to bring the fairs to the next level.
"I feel confident that Rob is just the person to do that."
O’Connor is currently the show manager of Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina, where he has helped grow the event by attracting national and international participation, as well as bringing a number of new sponsors on board.
He is also the owner of a purebred cattle operation in Vibank, Sask., where he currently resides with his wife and two young children.
O’Connor said his family is looking forward to moving to Brandon next month.
"I’m very comfortable with this move," he said.
"We spent a week in Brandon this summer when there was an event at the Keystone Centre and we really enjoyed the city."
O’Connor said he’s looking forward to bringing new ideas to the organization and "reconnecting with the livestock side of the event business."
"It’s just such a good staple in that area, but I think there’s still some opportunities for growth and some new ideas that could be looked at in the future that I’m really excited to be a part of," he said.
Although he has attended the Manitoba Livestock Expo a number of times, O’Connor admits this year’s Manitoba Winter Fair, which runs March 31 to April 5, will be his first. He said he looks forward to attending all of this year’s events and then plans to bring new ideas to the table.
"I think it will be a real great experience for me and a challenge," he said.
As general manager, O’Connor will lead the team in the Provincial Ex’s four annual events — the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, Manitoba Summer Fair, Manitoba Livestock Expo and President’s Dinner.
The organization was established in 1882, with the purpose of showcasing agriculture, as well as linking urban and rural communities through education and awareness while providing the region with entertainment, community pride and economic enhancement.
Oliver previously told the Sun she would leave her post after the Winter Fair in March.