Gretel Kloempken was recently named Assistant Fair Manager at the James B. Hunt Jr. Horse Complex.
A woman of multiple careers, Gretel has experience in the hotel industry, owned several businesses and has even been involved on the operations team at the North Carolina State Fair.
Gretel has been with the Hunt Horse Complex for around five years, serving first as the administrative lead and then acting as manager, gaining experience that showed her firsthand what it took to help the complex be successful. Because of this, applying for assistant fair manager was a given.
“I took a big personal interest in the Hunt Horse Complex and treat it like more than just a job,” Gretel said. “I run the horse complex like I ran my own business in many ways and look after its’ daily needs while helping to plan for the future.”
N.C. State Fair Manager Kent Yelverton says that finding the perfect candidate for the position did not require looking far, saying “Gretel has been acting manager of the complex since early in the COVID-19 pandemic and has proven her skills and passion are the right fit to lead the complex and to be a leader in the N.C. State Fair organization. She brings a lot of business experience, which is very important when making decisions in a receipt supported operation, and she also has a passion for supporting our staff in a way that they appreciate and seek out her guidance.”
When thinking about the transition that took place after switching titles, Gretel admits that it was quite seamless, as she knew what to expect with the new position. However, with responsibilities ranging from customer service to overseeing promoter and external business contracts, the job requires you to be a jack of all trades.
“In some ways, it is very similar to my old position, but you never quite know what’s going to happen each day,” Gretel said. “It keeps your life interesting; you must have priorities. I ask myself what’s most immediate and they take precedence.”
These priorities can become overwhelming at times as having so many responsibilities are never easy, even for someone with as much experience as Gretel. She admits that she thrives in this sort of chaos, but still tries to keep stress at a minimum.
“When everything gets to be a lot, I walk the barns and then come back and that resets my mind,” Gretel said. “You want to keep the place running for everybody, so I like to go out and see what’s going on. I like our staff to see me out there.”
As far as goals for the future are concerned, Gretel says there is a lot going on. In between improvements to the facility, she also has a personal mission, saying “I’m trying to get some diversity in here. If I can get different types of shows included, I think it will bring different people and give us a broader range of offerings.”
Gretel holds a constant focus on the people who are at the complex. Whether that be promoters, competitors or the staff, she loves that aspect of her work. “I like to help people, especially our staff, who may need a place to turn since having someone to help you always makes life easier.”
The immense interest that Gretel has in the horse complex makes it hard for her to choose one favorite part of her job. She says that she also loves seeing young competitors and when 4-H and FFA programs visit the complex.
“I love watching the kids, the smiles on their faces, and having something that they can be proud about,” Gretel said. “It helps their confidence, it empowers them and gives them the opportunity to learn and find new interests.”
The dedication Gretel has to the Hunt Horse Complex is incredible. From busy and unpredictable days to the craziness of State Fair season, she says it is all worth it as long as she is supporting the staff, the complex and the fairgrounds.
Gretel has surely already made an impact on the Hunt Horse Complex, but she still strives for more, saying “I want to be remembered for not only making the Hunt Horse Complex a better place, but also for the change I’ve made in the other employees’ lives. If I can help people out and make their life easier that is a wonderful thing.”
Join us in congratulating Gretel on her new position as the Assistant Fair Manager at the Hunt Horse Complex!