Expo New Mexico general manager Craig Swagerty, who helped reverse a two-year trend of declining revenues at the New Mexico State Fair last year, has been ousted by Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration.
Swagerty, a former deputy secretary of the New Mexico Tourism Department and two-term mayor of Red River, confirmed Wednesday that he’s no longer employed at Expo.
“They (the governor’s office) called me last Friday and said they appreciated my services and everything … and they’re making a change,” Swagerty said.
“We were making some headway on the budget, but the administration wants to go in another direction so, that’s the way it goes.”
Under Swagerty’s tenure,the State Fair underwent several renovations, including completion of the new Villa Hispana, upgrades to the fairgrounds’ electrical system and repairs to the coliseum floor.
Although attendance increased 1.4 percent during the 2009 State Fair, revenues fell 7.5 percent. In an effort to boost revenues, the fair, for the first time in its 73-year history, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays last year. Though attendance fell 12.4 percent — the fair’s lowest since 2003 — revenues grew by 14.6 percent to about $6.2 million.
Calls to the governor’s office were not immediately returned Wednesday.