With the cancellation of the 2020 Kansas State Fair, its general manager, Robin Jennison, resigned last week.
He didn’t do so out of anger or frustration but rather care for his co-workers.
The Hutchinson News reported last week Jennison sent his resignation to the board, stating it was an effort to help keep the jobs of full-time employees who work all year to make the fair an annual tradition.
"The impact that COVID-19 has had and will continue to have on the Kansas State Fair will be significant," Jennison said in the letter. "It is my intent that — in serving as the first casualty — it hopefully will lessen the impact on our other employees.
"It will be a welcome surprise if the fair is able to weather this storm without some furloughs or even a reduction in workforce. Having the highest-placed administrator surviving while frontline essential employees bear the brunt is something I will not do."
It takes courage and leadership to step up — or in this instance down — when adversity looms. This is yet another example of a Kansan acting selfless during this pandemic. We’ve written about many already. Too many, but we’re happy to tell these stories. They are profiles in courage and are examples of the state’s resolve during this crisis.
We admire what Jennison has done. This was a noble gesture and we wish him luck finding a new job.
We hope Jennison’s actions save jobs. We’re confident the state fair won’t tank anytime soon, but we’re aware that they’re not out of the woods yet. There are more challenging days ahead. Hopefully the fair’s leadership including the board can follow Jennison’s example and make prudent choices.
We also wish his successor, David Tobias, luck in doing the job in an interim fashion. It can’t be easy to take on running the fair even during regular conditions. Add a pandemic and a canceled fair and things seem more difficult.
The board does seem to have full confidence in Tobias though. The News’ report indicates the board appointed him with "full authority to manage staff and the financial situation of the Kansas State Fair."
We are confident that better days are ahead of us and also for the fair. We can’t wait to walk the Midway again, see the booths and eat the food. But in the meantime we hope stories like this will continue to inspire us.