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Festival president has been involved in fair since childhood

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Posted: Thursday, September 4, 2008 10:00 pm

George Barber, 73, remembers marching and playing the clarinet in the Lodi Grape Festival and Harvest Fair Parade when he was in high school.

Now, 60 years later, he is back, but this time as the fair president.


George Barber

Barber recently sat down with News-Sentinel staff member Natalie Flynn to chat about his prior fair experiences and what he hopes to bring to this year's festival.

Q: What was your reaction to being selected as president?

A: In 1948 when I played in the Grape Festival parade, I never dreamed I'd be president years later.

Q: As president, what do your duties consist of?

A: I pretty much preside over the executive meetings and work with the Grape Festival manager, Mark Armstrong. I also have to sign all the legal documents.

Q: How long have you been on the Grape Festival Board of Directors? How did you become involved?

A: I spent 24 years on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, so I was very involved during that entire time.

Q: Why did you decide to become involved in the Grape Festival board?

The festival board

The Lodi Grape Festival is governed by a Board of Directors who make key decisions and set up rules and regulations carried out by Grape Festival staff.

The directors meet once every three months and an executive committee of the board is established to help with decisions such as who the board president will be each year.

The following is a list of the 2008 Lodi Grape Festival Board of Directors:

George Barber, president
Mike Locke, first vice president
Steve Crabtree, second vice president
Jim DeMera, past president
Jennelle Bechthold
Troy Bowers
Leonard Cicerello
Carl Crug
Pat Donahue
Mary Jane East
Bill Ferrero
Wes Fujitani
Julie Hayden
Tom Hoffman
Douglas Holck
David Hoover
Caroline Lange
Dan Lewis
Ken Lung
Steve Manildi
Mike Manna
Mike McCay
Ernest Meier
Bruce Mettler
Ole Mettler
Rick Morgan
Jean Rauser
Harold Rohrbach
Rod Schuman
Diane Steen
Donn Thompson
Ed Wall
Gar Wright

A: It's an opportunity to showcase our community from an agricultural point of view. That's a part of Lodi that has been under-recognized.

Q: Do you have any new ideas for the festival?

A: We try to get as much utilization of the facilities as possible. The more we can rent out the buildings and area, the more of an asset to the community the grounds will become.

Q: What is your favorite part of the festival?

A: The grape murals are an outstanding feature of the festival. They help bring a lot of publicity from outside to the community.

Q: What would you like to see in the future of the Grape Festival?

A: I think it will get better as times change. We've grown into a rather big event and it keeps getting better. As directors, we like to sit back and let management run the operation. Mark is doing a great job, and I don't want to micro-manage.

Q: What is your favorite Grape Festival memory?

A: I enjoy the grape murals and I always have. I think they are an outstanding feature. Plus, they have started receiving a lot of publicity outside of the local community. People come from all over to see the murals and it is just a great demonstration of our agriculture and art.

Q: I understand you were in the first graduating class at Sacramento State. What did that mean to you?

A: Well, I was one of the first who went there once it changed from Sac City to the four-year university. There were a lot of ways it has changed. When I went, there (were no) sidewalks. We watched the buildings getting built around us.

Q: What did you like about growing up in Lodi?

A: My family has been here since the 1800s and has been active in the community. My grandfather was a judge. I am the fourth generation of elected officials. We were always really involved in everything around here.

Q: How has the Grape Festival changed over the years?

A: It is larger and there is more participation from the community. We have been continuously trying to have something new each year so it doesn't grow stale.

Q: What do you like to spend retirement doing?

A: Traveling is what I enjoy, and I'm planning on going to Egypt. I want to look around and see what's out there.

Q: If you could change one thing about the world right now, what would it be?

A: I would want to put a stop to all this terrorist stuff that's been going on.

Q: Do you ride the carnival rides at the fair? If so, which is your favorite?

A: I haven't ridden in a ride at the festival in a very long time. I once got on something that looked fun, but it made me really dizzy and I haven't got back on one since then.

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