Marlene Jolliffe, executive director of the State Fair of Virginia and vice president of operations at The Meadow Event Park, has been inducted into the International Association of Fairs and Expositions Hall of Fame.
Jolliffe was recognized Nov. 26 at the 128th IAFE annual convention in San Antonio. Hall of Fame induction is the organization’s highest honor, bestowed in recognition of distinguished achievement in, or contribution to, the fair industry.
“To be recognized by some incredibly talented peers is one of the greatest honors in my life,” Jolliffe said. “I have always encouraged people to focus on doing what is right for the organization and to give back. It’s a simple philosophy, and it works. I am truly humbled to have been awarded this honor.”
Jolliffe joined the State Fair in 2015 and previously had been manager and CEO of the State Fair of West Virginia since 2004. It was at that event that she got her start in the industry, working summers while she attended college. After earning a bachelor’s degree in travel industry management from Concord College and a master’s in parks, recreation and tourism management from Clemson University, she accepted the position of assistant manager at the State Fair of West Virginia.
IAFE Chairman Jessica Underberg said Jolliffe is highly regarded among her peers in the fair industry. “Marlene has a humble and kind way of leading,” she noted. “She is not arrogant or boastful, but rather eager to learn and even more excited to teach others.”
Wayne F. Pryor, president of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, which acquired the fair in 2013, said Jolliffe “has, from Day One, embraced our goals of reviving the fair, reinforcing its focus on agriculture, celebrating the commonwealth and promoting The Meadow as a historic property and a versatile event space.”
Jolliffe earned her IAFE Certified Fair Executive designation in 1997 and served as IAFE chairman in 2013. During that year she led a “Dream Big” campaign that encouraged fairs to hold food drives for their respective local food banks during their events. The campaign led to more than 6 million pounds of food donated to local food banks.
“Marlene is one of the most revered leaders in the IAFE. Her innovative ideas as a fair CEO, her passion for the agricultural mission of fairs, and her warm and welcoming spirit means she is not only well-known throughout the sector, but also much sought-after for advice,” said IAFE President & CEO Marla Calico.
Jolliffe has served on the IAFE Membership Committee; Advertising, Promotions & Public Relations Committee; and Sponsorship Committee, as well as on the National Independent Concessionaires Advisory Committee. Most recently she chaired the IAFE Industry Relations Committee, guiding the group through creation of a much sought-after white paper on matters of transfer of ownership and contracting processes between concessionaires and fair management.
The 2019 State Fair of Virginia will run from Sept. 27 through Oct. 6. Information is available at StateFairVa.org.
The State Fair is held each fall at its permanent home at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County and attracts 250,000 fairgoers. The event celebrates the best of Virginia’s past, present and future through scholarship initiatives, creative programming and a focus on the commonwealth’s agriculture and natural resources industries.
The IAFE, based in Springfield, Mo., is a voluntary, nonprofit corporation, serving state, provincial, regional, and county agricultural fairs, shows, exhibitions and expositions. Its associate members include state and provincial associations of fairs, non-agricultural expositions and festivals, associations, corporations and individuals engaged in providing products and services to its members, all of whom are interested in the improvement of fairs, shows, expositions and allied fields.