By Dale Woodard on May 11, 2021.
Mike Warkentin is ready to jump into his new role in his hometown.
Last week, the Lethbridge & District Exhibition appointed Warkentin as Chief Executive Officer, just in time for the first Lethbridge & District Exhibition annual Farmers’ Market of the year at the Exhibition Park South Pavilion on the weekend.
Warkentin, 37, joined Lethbridge & District Exhibition in 2018 as Assistant General Manager, was appointed Chief Operating Officer in 2019 and has been filling the role of interim co-CEO since June 2020.
“It has been an exciting week,” said Warkentin Saturday morning. “It is obviously something that is a tremendous honour, to have this role in such an historic organization in the town I grew up in where my wife grew up and where my kids are now growing up. It’s where we call home. So to have this here at home is a pretty special thing. But more importantly, we are at a time of transformation for this organization. It’s a time to be bold and it’s a time to look to the future and see what this organization can be for southern Alberta. I couldn’t be more excited for what is ahead for this organization.”
Warkentin earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Lethbridge and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from San Diego State University, where he was named Outstanding Alumnus in 2018.
He is an active community member, as a Director for the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce, a member of the University of Lethbridge Senate and the vice-chair of the KidSport Society of Alberta.
Previously, he had several senior management roles at Edmonton Northlands including Director, Event and Entertainment Development and General Manager, Rexall Place.
As he settles into his new role, Warkentin said the goal is to bring people together, COVID-19 pandemic or not.
“We are the gathering place for southern Alberta, so anything we can do to bring people together, we will look to do,” he said.
Warkentin said this summer is going to be an interesting one, even without COVID, pointing to the construction going on around Exhibition Park.
“That has a major impact on the footprint and return on what we can actually do,” he said. “Once you layer in COVID-19 and everything that comes with that, it limits that even further. Obviously, we do have some events planned through Southern Alberta Table that we announced last week that we want to be able to grow in the future. This year will be reduced in less of a festival environment for those events, but we do hope to grow those over time and into signature events.
“This year, it continues to be a moving target. We’ll continue to look at what we are able to do with as little risk in the event we do have to cancel in the future, but still play that role in providing that gathering place for the community.”
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