Friday, April 27, 2012

Mikey Vokey named new FREX executive director


For the Daily Gleaner

27 Apr 2012 12:15AM

The board of the Fredericton Exhibition introduced a new executive director and a new vision Thursday for the 185-year-old event.

Mikey Vokey was officially welcomed by the board and several members of the community during a reception at the Fredericton Inn. He brings agricultural experience and an ambitious direction for the exhibition, with plans to culminate in a nationally renowned fair to celebrate its bi-centennial in 2027.

Vokey said before achieving that dream, organizers must take small steps in building relationships with the community.

“We want the local campuses involved; we want the local businesses involved,” said Vokey. “We need your support and we want to make this an unforgettable experience.”

He’s looking to build a bigger, more diversed audience, while raising awareness for the industry. FREX will also launch a new website this summer and can be found on Facebook and Twitter (@Frex4Fun).

“We really want people to see the facility as the asset it is,” Vokey said.

“During FREX week, we shouldn’t be able to get a hotel room in the capital. You shouldn’t go to eat at a restaurant during the week and not expect a lineup.”

Vokey’s recent post was Cavendish Agri Services’ director of operations.

“Mike comes to FREX equipped with decades of experience, business management, volunteerism, and marketing and promotion,” said Tony Decourcey, board member.

“We absolutely made the right choice.”

While Vokey wants to preserve the traditions that follow one of Canada’s longest-running exhibitions, he also recognizes the need to attract younger demographics.

The 2012 FREX takes place Sept. 2-8, the same time thousands of university students arrive in the capital city. Engaging the student population is a must, he said.

The first Sunday has been dedicated to bringing in entertainment and events that appeal to a younger group.

He would like to see the university as well as Canadian Forces Base Gagetown join in as planners, not just spectators.

“What we really need is for them to come out and say here’s a type of event that we’ll come and see,” he said. “It’s about finding out what product they want, making some changes and adapting because we’ve got the venue.”

Mayor Brad Woodside welcomed Vokey.

“I’m excited (he’s) taking on a new vision and changes,” said Woodside.

“During the upcoming FREX, when people walk in the door they should be able to see that something’s happened.”

Vokey said he believes people will stand up and take notice.

“The reason I took the job is the potential,” he said. “There’s so much potential to reach out ... it’s not about dwelling on the past but embracing heritage and moving forward.”

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