D. Andrew "Andy" Cashman has been General Manager of the Maryland State Fair by the Maryland State Fair & Agricultural Society Board of Directors. Cashman replaces Howard "Max" Mosner who is retiring from Maryland State Fair after 53 years of service. The move is a promotion for Cashman, who previously held the position of Assistant General Manager, which he was named to in 1997, after holding the position of Beef Superintendent for more than a decade.
But Cashman's passion for agriculture and the fair industry goes back far longer than working for the organizers of the Maryland State Fair. Cashman grew up on a farm in Baltimore County, raised pigs, lambs and steer, even winning 4-H competitions at the age of nine. "I grew up with 4-H, at the Baltimore County Fair and the State Fair, I always thought it would be neat to work there," said Cashman. "I was always amazed at everything you could do at the fair, all the different foods, the horse racing, and of course all the 4-H activities. And, I'm still amazed."
"We are very fortune to have Andy who has the experience and enthusiasm for this important position," said F. Grove Miller, Chairman of the Board, Maryland State Fair.
Cashman may have long been groomed for his new position, but Mosner may prove a tough act to follow. This fair industry veteran has received many awards and recognitions industry-wide, most recently being named 2009 IAFE (International Association of Fairs & Expositions) Board Chairman. Mosner was instrumental in developing a junior fair board at the Maryland State Fair and was a founder of the Maryland Association of Agricultural Fairs & Shows. He was inducted into the IAFE Hall of Fame in 2005 and is a past recipient of the Maryland Association of Agricultural Fairs & Shows Fair Person of the Year award.
The Maryland State Fair, located at the Timonium Fairgrounds in Baltimore County, dates back to 1879 when a group of farmers held a four-day event designed to promote agriculture and horse racing in Baltimore County. Now an 11-day summer celebration, attracting more than 400,000 visitors each year, the Maryland State Fair features educational competitions, home arts, agriculture & livestock exhibits, thoroughbred horse racing, midway rides and games, local and national entertainment and a full range of fair foods. For Cashman, the fascination with the fair that he first felt persists throughout his professional life as a fair executive.
Cashman joined the Baltimore County Fair Board at 19, becoming its youngest president at 20 years old. He also served as president of the Carroll County Fair and general manager of the Eastern National Livestock Show. In 2007, Cashman was the youngest person in the history of The Maryland Association of Agricultural Fairs and Shows to receive the title of Fair Person of the Year. He also serves on numerous IAFE committees.
"By combining tradition, education and innovation we can continue to grow the Maryland State Fair into one of the country's top showcases of agriculture, education and entertainment," said Cashman.
For the 2014 fair, Cashman was instrumental in implementing a new a new layout design of the midway. Deggeller Attractions has provided the Maryland State Fair midway fore than 30 years, and last year featured 41 rides. In cooperation with the midway company, Cashman consolidated Kiddie Land into its own mini-midway for the small children set. "The new Kiddie Land was less confusing, and it was definitely nicer for the smaller children," he said. "Rides for children used to be more spread out throughout the midway, but we now we put all the rides and children's activities in one area. The response was very positive."
Cashman added that the new, expanded Kiddie Land was also located nearby fair management offices. "It is so much fun watch these kids have fun at the fair," he said. "We're trying to give a product to families, one that they come to year after and after. To see these kids enjoy the fair is wonderful."
Another initiative Cashman promoted for the 2014 fair was Goat Mountain, a play-zone for about 30 goats, which also served as an interactive learning center for fairgoers. "it got a lot of attention, it was a great place to take a picture."
Unlike his younger years when farm life was more common in Maryland, the majority of fairgoers now have little hands-on experience with farming. A top priority for the new general manager of the Maryland State Fair is reminding fairgoers at every opportunity that agriculture in the Old Line State is alive and well.
"Agriculture is still a leading industry in Maryland," said Cashman. "People in this state are now seven or eight generations away from the farm. People want to know more about where their food comes from, part of the mission is to teach and educate people about agriculture, and it's still a reason why they come to the fair."
Coinciding with his promotion, other executive positions opened at the Maryland State Fair. One of his first decisions was to appoint new personnel to top spots. Cashman has put together a new management team heading into 2015 and his freshmen year as skipper. The new team includes: Becky Brashear, Assistant General Manager, Rebecca Williams, Operations Manager, Robert W. Fogle, Jr., Agriculture, Education Director, Edie M. Bernier, Publicity & Community Relations Director, and Bobbie McDaniel, Secretary to the General Manager.
Although still in the planning stage, the new team is developing a new Maryland building with an state-wide, agriculture centered exhibition. "We want all 23 counties of Maryland represented, and each will have a space to showcase their county in terms of their agriculture and what is special about their county," said Cashman. "It is important for the state that the exhibition shows everything from across the state, so people know what is going on in Maryland. People have lived here for years, but don't know there's lumberjacking, maple syrup production and livestock."
He added that new Maryland house will be "very hands-on, with a lot of computer and interactive displays."
Cashman also takes over management of the fairgrounds, although unlike many fairs whose non-fair business has been hurting, the Timonium Fairgrounds weathered increased competition from nearby markets. "It's a steady year round business," Cashman. "We hardly have to do any marketing for the fairgrounds." Upcoming events closing out 2014 include a automobile show, a Model Train show, a thoroughbred horse event, an antique market and a field hockey and lacrosse tournament."
Much of the strength of the fairgrounds has also bolstered the annual summer fair. "We have a prime location," said Cashman, who cited amenities with consumer-appeal, a light rail station, a park & ride, and free parking, with a lot of 900 spaces. "There's a convenience to the fairgrounds that's a real plus, and keeps us competitive."