Otis L. Brown, 69 

President and chief executive, The State Fair of Virginia

We have to change with the times. The public is much more demanding and much more discriminating than they have been in the past. We see that in everything from where the cars are parked to how long they’ll stand in line. No one wants to wait anymore. If it’s not instant, you don’t bother with it. Plus the fact that our competition’s much more severe. Our competition no longer is just theme parks and county fairs and carnivals and festivals. Our biggest competition is the Internet. Our competition is Little League — it is for the time of people. The time has passed when this is the biggest event that the family will do.

So we have to create a product that gets them in their car to this. Animals bring people here, interaction with animals. And food. The fried Twinkies, Oreos. Polish sausage and everything else. None of these things are on anybody’s nutritional list.

People are not aware right now that we’re planning for the 2005 fair. All kinds of polls are being taken, and surveys are being taken right now that will shape what we’re doing in 2004, 2005 — and will drastically shape the way we produce our new fair in 2006 at the new fairgrounds. The exciting part is to plan for the next 50 years. — As told to Jason Roop

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