DEL MAR — Two Del Mar Fairgrounds employees were recognized at the Jan. 14 meeting for their combined service of nearly half a century.
Becky Bartling, who currently serves as deputy secretary-manager, was hired Jan. 1, 1994, as the first full-time box office manager.
Her initial task was automating the 22nd District Agricultural Association’s antiquated ticket system.
“At that time we just had hard tickets,” fairgrounds General Manager Tim Fennell said.
A few years later the 22nd DAA, which oversees the fairgrounds, created a haunted house now know as The Scream Zone. Fennell said Bartling was instrumental in helping to get the event off the ground 16 years ago, which may be why she is nicknamed “The Queen of Scream.”
Event coordinator was added to Bartling’s title in 2000. Three years later she was promoted to her current position with responsibilities that include overseeing interim event activities.
Four departments and the Del Mar Horse Park equestrian facility report directly to Bartling.
She is also responsible for administering the district’s master plan, supervising the senior environmental planner and booking all grandstand acts during the San Diego County Fair.
“Becky is one of the most positive, effervescent people you will ever meet,” Fennell said. “I personally feel very fortunate to have Becky as my COO and business partner.
“She is everything I’m not — smart, articulate, vertically challenged and is willing to learn more about sewers, wastewater runoff and reclaimed water than I’ll ever want to know,” he added. “Much of the success of the Del Mar Fairgrounds over the last 20 years can be attributed to Becky.”
Bartling said the key to her longevity is working for “a great CEO, Tim Fennell, a terrific board of directors and with an amazing team of employees in such a fun environment.”
Memorable moments include the facility being used as a wildfire evacuation site in 2003 for more than 2,000 animals and again in 2007 for animals and San Diego residents.
“I slept in my office for three days as we tended to the needs of our human and animal friends,” Bartling said. “It was exhausting but also very gratifying to be able to provide some comfort to all the evacuees.”
She also recalled the day the paid parking program started in 1994.
“It was pouring rain and we didn’t have any cashier booths, which resulted in rain-soaked cashiers and money that we had to dry with a hair dryer,” she said. “It was a bit chaotic but everyone had great humor about the situation.”
Sherry Piper was hired in January 1989 as an office assistant in the Administrative Department, where she has remained as a key support person for the past 25 years.
She was promoted several times, first to office technician in 1991, then secretary in 2001 and executive secretary in 2005.
She has served in her current role as executive assistant since 2012. Her responsibilities include administrative duties for the general and deputy general managers.
“Sherry is a very dedicated and hard-working member of the fairgrounds team,” Fennell said. “Every month she has the challenging task of gathering all the board packet backup information from numerous staff members and compiling it quickly on a very short timeline” for the monthly 22nd DAA board meetings.
“Sherry is one of the most pleasant individuals you can ever meet,” he added. “She has real talent for dealing with challenging folks and always maintaining her pleasant manner.”
Piper also assists the environmental land planner and other fairgrounds departments.
“It is a privilege being a part of a great team in such an awesome So. Cal. location,” Piper said.
During the past 25 years she said her memorable moments include “short timeouts to have fun while appreciating highlights from each year’s fair theme.”