Rich Silacci, general manager of the Humboldt County Fair Association, announced to the HCFA Executive Committee last night that he has submitted his resignation letter to board President Andy Titus.
Silacci began work at the job Jan. 3 and will officially exit the position Jan. 31.
In his remarks to the committee, Silacci underscored that his departure was unrelated to recent events. In November, the Ferndale Police Department arrested the fair’s bookkeeper, Nina Tafarella, on suspicion of embezzlement from a different nonprofit. The fair’s books are currently being audited for evidence of embezzlement. Three long-time directors with the fair association have also stepped down in the last few weeks, leaving four open board positions. Silacci said he decided to leave his role prior to any of this happening.
“This role has taken a toll on me,” he said. “This is not the position for me. I feel like I have to make this announcement so we can get moving with a new personnel.”
Silacci, originally from Petaluma, took the position after retiring as a professor from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He said he plans to remain in Ferndale and will offer his support for as long as necessary to help the board find his replacement.
Members of the executive committee thanked Silacci for his time, with Director Tim Renner joking that if he stuck around “it would only get easier.”
“You did a great job with the fair,” said Director Jack Rice. “We understand why it’s not a good job for you personally, but you did a great job with the fair.”
Silacci oversaw the Humboldt County Fair’s return to full swing after two years of pandemic-depressed numbers. In his financial report, he said that while auditors were still reviewing several years’ worth of transactions, the association’s bank statements show a healthy balance of “just over a million dollars,” placing it close to or even ahead of where it was the prior year.
Titus said he and the board respected Silacci’s decision, and that it was important to move forward in a positive direction.
“Our main objective as the board is to make sure there’s a great fair every August,” he said. “I’ve been preaching this for five years, and we’re finally there: The 2023 fair is almost planned and we’re not even done with 2022. We have a lot of good things going on.”
A second executive committee meeting focusing on the recruitment process for Silacci’s successor is scheduled for Dec. 12