Management & Governance

Meet Our Team

Management

Reg AshTara SantagapitaHeather BlackwellGreg BlanchardMike FishRob LumsdenWhitney FullerMichelle Scott

Governance

Governors | Senate


Management Team  

 

Reg Ash 

CEO

Reg

Reg is the newest CEO of the Western Fair Association – a title that only a handful of individuals have held. In this role, he is responsible for executive oversight of the Association’s business interests and implementation of the strategic plan approved by the board.  

His agricultural roots run deep and trace back to his younger days in his small hometown of Chesley, Ontario. In fact, their home was next door to the local Massey Ferguson dealership. His grandparents operated a small family farm.  

Reg started with WFA in 2001 managing the Sports Centre and since then has gained valuable experience in all facets of the business. His proudest achievements are the opening of the Sports Centre in 2001, the 2012 Western Fair, the formation of the Standardbred Alliance in 2013, the renovation and re-opening of the Agriplex in 2015, becoming CEO in 2019 and the launch of The Grove in 2019.  

He is an avid cyclist and serves as a coach and volunteer board member. Reg met his wife Jen in 1990 while attending Western University and they are the proud parents of Nate and Lily.  

Back to the top


 

Tara Santagapita

Director of Corporate Services

Tara

Tara was born and raised in London, Ontario and currently resides in the small community of Thorndale with her husband and two boys.  

Tara began working at Western Fair Association in 2010 on the finance team. She spent three years as the Business Manager of the Sports Centre overseeing all operational, capital and administrative areas. Tara left the Association for a short time and returned in May 2019 as the Director of Corporate Services with Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, Compliance and Capital Projects under her portfolio.   

Tara is passionate about the Association and the role it plays in the community and shares many fond childhood memories of attending the Annual Fall Fair or visiting the barn and the racetrack as her grandfather owned horses that raced at Western Fair.   

Over her years with Western Fair Tara has most enjoyed the many opportunities to “get out of the office” and be involved in the variety of events we host – Jumping in to help sell tickets at a show, working with food & midway operators during the Fair, or helping set-up for a tournament at the Sports Centre. We all play a role in supporting and ensuring the success of our events and customer experience.  

Back to the top


 

Heather Blackwell

Director of Agriculture and Urban Affairs

Heather

Heather has been a passionate and dedicated member of the Western Fair family for more than a quarter-century. She has had the opportunity to work in several different roles during that time and currently oversees agricultural and community initiatives that include agri-business shows, The Market, agri-food education, The Grove and our annual signature event The Western Fair.  

She has taken the life lessons learned as a kid on the farm and incorporated those into what has been a remarkable career. Heather has had the pleasure of working with four of the Association’s General Managers and CEO’s and their respective teams. She feels fortunate to have worked with numerous board members, volunteers and community leaders over the years who share our vision of doing greater good for our local community.  

Watching and working with our loyal, dedicated staff to pull together what she calls ‘the magic’ within an array of events has been her greatest source of pride.  

A bit of a creative spirit, Heather enjoys being outdoors whenever possible. She likes to share lots of laughs with friends and her wonderful family that keeps her quite busy in this stage of her life. When time permits, she looks forward to a quiet moment lakeside, a good book and a glass of wine and good conversation.   

Back to the top


 

Greg Blanchard

Director of Sales, Marketing and Communications

Greg

Greg has been with the Association since 2010, beginning as announcer and assistant manager at The Raceway before moving into the position of Director of Racing and recently transitioning to Director of Sales, Marketing and Communications.  

His proudest accomplishment at WFD was his team’s work in positioning The Raceway as the highest wagering Signature racetrack in Canada – a business unit the new Raceway team continues to take to new heights. 

Having grown up in Prince Edward Island he was exposed to Agriculture and realized how critical the industry is in people’s everyday lives. He is proud to be part of an organization that supports all facets of the Agri-food industry.  

Greg is a ‘wannabe’ culinary master who enjoys creating new dishes. He also enjoys days at the beach or a round of golf whenever possible.  

Back to the top


 

Mike Fish 

Food and Beverage General Manager

Mike

Mike is a new recruit to the Western Fair Association team but his passion for the culinary arts and hospitality have made him an instant fit. The self-proclaimed beer and wine geek joined the Association in March of 2020.   

He has brought tremendous enthusiasm to his role and is excited about leading the Food and Beverage team’s new direction and mandate to source food locally and embrace the bounty that Southwestern Ontario has to offer. At the District, he oversees two restaurants, multiple concessions, the catering department and the Graze ‘N’ Go mobile food truck.  

Mike also has a background in agriculture. His family operated a Century Farm in Orillia for decades and it was in his 20’s that he first fell in love with wine, spending as much time in vineyards as he could. The ties that both wine and beer have to agriculture have helped inspire Mike in his new role.  

He was always a fan of the Association’s owned and operated shows before joining the team and looks forward to showcasing our food and beverage offerings to the masses. “There is no sincerer love than the love of food” – George Bernard Shaw 

Back to the top


 

Rob Lumsden

Director of Raceway and Grandstand

Rob

Rob is one of our longest serving employees, having started in 2002, and knows the facilities and property they occupy inside out. He wears many different hats and oversees grandstand facilities and operations, annual fair operations, security, snow removal and landscaping.  

His official title is Director of Raceway and Grandstand Operations, a relatively new role which provided him with one of proudest accomplishments in 2019. It was during this season that the Raceway posted record single-night and seasonal wagering totals. The annual 10-day fair has also been a constant source of pride for him.  

When not at work, Rob enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter and two dogs. He coaches his daughter’s hockey team and is an avid hockey and slo-pitch player himself.  

He is proud to be part of a team that helps educate and facilitate Agricultural experiences to the local community.  

Back to the top


 

Whitney Fuller

Sports Centre General Manager

Whitney

Whitney joined the Association in 2016 and currently oversees our Sports Centre facility where she provides guidance and direction to the hard-working team who handle the day-to-day operations, giving her time to focus on high-level planning and vision. She also liaises with our talented Food and Beverage team which recently came back under the Association’s umbrella.  

She enjoys staying active on the golf course or ball diamond, and likes to start most days with a sweat at a local fitness studio. She also enjoys cooking, iced coffee, and country music as well as spending time with family and friends around a good bonfire. 

Hosting two Continental Cup of Curling events (2018 and 2020) are Whitney’s proudest achievements during her time here. “Any time we are able to host a large national or international event, our building is filled with an extra buzz of excitement that is so neat to experience. It’s incredible to see how the rink can transform into a completely different event.” 

Like most of our employees, Whitney also has ties to agriculture with her soon-to-be in-laws being third-generation poultry farmers.  

Back to the top


 

Michelle Scott

Director of Human Resources

Michelle

Michelle started her career at the Western Fair District in 1996, working at the IMAX Theatre as a student. She remembers it as an incredible opportunity to develop and she seized the opportunity. Since that time, she has had the chance to work in many facets of the organization, including her current role as Director of Human Resources.   

Michelle is proud to work for a community-based organization and loves being part of our events that bring people and our community together in a meaningful way. Being active and involved in the community is extremely important to her. In fact, she is a regular blood donor, volunteers on the Epilepsy Board and has been involved in the many sports organizations her girls have been involved in over the years. 

She likes being outdoors and being active when she can and enjoys trying out new things She is a runner who also enjoys hiking and being out on the water (swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding) – all things she enjoys that help the body and mind. 

Michelle also enjoys her quiet time, spending time with her two daughters, a card or game night, yoga, curling up with a good book and cup of tea and catching up with friends over a glass of wine.   

Back to the top


Governance (Oct. 29, 2020)

2021 Governors 

The authoritative governing body of the Association.

Chair Ann Straatman  
Vice Chair John Finan  
 

Lindsay Engel

Dianne McComb
 

Bill Boyce

Colin Yates
 

John Leitch

Peter Whatmore

 

David Ross

Mary Anne Zwambag
City Representative Councillor Josh Morgan  
Past Chair Joe Dales  
Second Past Chair Tim Kelly  

 


2021 Senate

The Senate acts as advisors to the Board on matters that affect the overall well-being and future of the Association.

Joe Dales, Chair  

Michelle Campbell

Jan Delaney
Bill Grieve Denny Lang

Ken Levy

Al Marr
Don McCallum Karl Nevin
John White Gary Williams
Tim Kelly  

Back to the top