We Are Agriculture is a year-long series that will highlight the hard-work done by employees across the Department of Agriculture. Tony Doty, Administrative Specialist with the N.C. Mountain State Fair and WNC Agricultural Center, is one of those employees. Stay tuned each Wednesday here on the blog or any of our social media accounts and join us in honoring those who continue to drive our state’s agriculture industry forward each day!
County fairs often become a tradition for many families in North Carolina and they provide an atmosphere that is easy to love. Tony Doty, Administrative Specialist with the NC Mountain State Fair and WNC Ag Center, fell in love with county fairs at a young age and developed a passion that would drive him toward his future career.
Tony’s grandparents owned a farm that he would visit as a kid and help on during the summer months. “I knew the importance of agriculture because I saw how hard my grandparents worked in it,” he said, “but I never thought I would work in the industry until my passion for the local agricultural fairs grew in college.” While he was in school, Tony worked part-time at the WNC Agricultural Center and the N.C. Mountain State Fair. “I immediately fell in love with the work and atmosphere here, so I never left,” he said. Twenty-eight years later, he continues to learn something new every single day.
On a typical day, Tony can be found handling a variety of important tasks, including banking, purchasing, human resources, office management and employee paperwork. He also works closely with all the events held at the WNC Agricultural Center throughout the year, including horse shows, rodeos, monster truck shows, RV and boat shows and more! “I love the variety that this job gives me because there is always something different going on,” he said. “There are a lot of people from all across the state who work hard every week to ensure this center is an exciting place to be on the weekends, and I am proud to be a part of it.”
In addition to the variety of events held at the WNC Agricultural Center, Tony has many responsibilities leading up to and during the N.C. Mountain State Fair, which takes place each September. “We start planning for the fair at the beginning of the year, but our busy season takes off around mid-July when we start accepting vendor applications,” he said. Tony manages all the temporary employees who are brought in to help with the fair each year, which normally totals around 200 people. He is responsible for ensuring that they are properly trained on their job responsibilities, taken care of throughout the fair and paid for their hard work. Tony also handles all contracting for entertainment acts throughout the fair and placement of rental equipment. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s so rewarding to watch it all come together and bring smiles to the faces of people across this state,” he said.
When Tony first started with the WNC Agricultural Center, the N.C. Mountain State Fair was still a distant dream, not a reality. “I was here before the fair ever existed,” he said. “I’ve watched it grow from the ground up.” Initially, the WNC Agricultural Center simply used the outdoor space available and the horse complex to build the fairgrounds. Since its inception, the fair has grown tremendously and become a tradition that families across the state can’t wait to be a part of each year. “Overall, I am very proud to have been a part of this journey that brings people so much joy and teaches them about the importance of the agriculture industry in our state,” he said.
Fun fact about Tony, he met his wife at the N.C. Mountain State Fair! “She actually started out as a temporary employee and worked her way up to head cashier, where she is today,” he said. “We have been together for 14 years and I love telling people about our love that started here at the fair.”
When he is not at work, Tony and his wife can be found at the lake enjoying some quality time together or at other fairs across the country taking note of ideas that would make high-quality additions to our fair. Join us in thanking Tony for all of his hard showcasing agriculture and other local entertainment acts at the WNC Agricultural Center and N.C. Mountain State Fair each year!