PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Thursday, January 17, 2019

Ben Sprague Named New CEO at Earl Warren Showgrounds

Earl Warren Showgrounds Board (19th District Agricultural Association) announces the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and three new board members.

Ben Sprague will formally be introduced as CEO at the January 17 board meeting. Sprague, a 4th generation Californian and a native of Santa Barbara, brings an exciting blend of background and experience to the Showgrounds operations. After starting his career in event production at the Santa Barbara Bowl in 2003, Sprague has spent the last fifteen years as a television producer and entertainment executive in Los Angeles. He has deep ties to the community and has a unique professional skillset that includes interests as diverse as ranching and philanthropy.

“The board is very eager to work with Ben on this new opportunity to improve and modernize our aging facilities which serve as a valuable community resource. We believe that Ben Sprague is the best person to take our strengths forward and lead this place into the future,” said Board President Michael Medel.

Mr. Sprague has fond memories of his parents bringing him to the Fair, and especially loved the open-air events like Monster Truck Madness as a child. He is now a father himself, with two young boys and a baby girl, and his family continues the tradition of enjoying the outdoors – treasuring the ocean, the mountains, camping, and traveling to wild places. Music is also a hobby and a passion for Sprague, who plays multiple instruments.

“I am honored to have this responsibility.” Sprague said. “Earl Warren is a local treasure that is at a critical juncture. The possibilities are exciting, and I look forward to working with the Board and the community to generate new ideas, events, partners, community, and capital support with a fresh approach to guide this venue into its bright future. Together we can make the Fairgrounds shine.”

In addition to the appointment of a new CEO, former Governor Brown announced the appointments of Cecilia Tavera (Santa Barbara), Luis Esparza (Santa Barbara) and Nancy Melekian (Santa Barbara) who will begin serving their term this month. The 19th District Agricultural Association is governed by a nine person Board of Directors. The Directors are volunteers who are appointed by the governor of California to staggered four year terms.

The Showgrounds produces the Santa Barbara Fair and Expo, the Santa Barbara National Horse Show which will be celebrating its 100th year in July 2019, and the newest event “The Haunt” in October each year. The indoor and outdoor facilities are used extensively by and for the community, providing both public and private event space and support. The Showgrounds is also recognized as a vital part of the area’s emergency response network. For more information please visit or contact the fairgrounds directly at 805-687-0766

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