A long-awaited report on a state investigation into the 2016 Kern County Fair was released Tuesday at the fair's monthly board of directors meeting, interrupted at times by angry members of the audience challenging the findings and fair CEO Mike Olcott.

Investigators for the Division of Measurement Standards Weighmaster Program found that legal documents were altered to allow an underweight pig to be sold at auction, a misdemeanor violation of the California Business and Professions Code, the report states.

The investigators found the fair's livestock office does not "follow best practices for issuing or handling a weighmaster certificate" and problems with the fair's record-keeping, paperwork and training. The report also said the fair failed to submit for county inspection the scales used to weigh smaller animals like rabbits.

At the heart of the matter is the integrity of the fair's junior livestock auction — by Olcott's estimation the most lucrative in the state — and the fairness of helping one child while others in similar situations were disqualified from auction. 

Katie Stotler, the fair's livestock supervisor and deputy weighmaster, told The Californian in November she ordered the documents be changed out of sympathy for a young exhibitor whose other pig died at the fair.

Stotler was not present at Tuesday's meeting, but Olcott announced a staffing change, placing deputy fair director Chris Garmon in charge of the livestock office. Olcott made no mention of Stotler.

Charlotte Phillips, a member of the audience who identified herself as Stotler's sister, said that Stotler is on medical leave but that she was told by Olcott she would not be returning to the fair and has cleaned out her office. 

The report includes the transcript of a Sept. 29 voice-mail message, purportedly left by Stotler, that Olcott played for the investigators.

"Hey, Mike, this is Katie. Give me a call. I screwed up big time. Give me a call before your board hears about it."

Olcott told investigators he talked to Stotler that night and she told him she had altered the weight on the weighmaster card and allowed the pig to be auctioned. Olcott said he asked whether she had told the buyer, and she said she had not.

Olcott said during the meeting the buyer paid market value for the animal, "the amount the buyer would have paid had the hog not gone to auction."

Stotler told the investigators she had worked for the fair since 1986 and that, according to the report, "she was continuing to run the office the same way she had been taught."

Olcott read a list of steps the fair will take following the report, including offering training before the 2017 fair.

"Why weren't they already trained," Phillips interjected from the audience.

"It wasn't just Katie's decision," said a man in the audience, who declined to give his name. "You had knowledge of that (the pig) going across, too, but you covered yourself up," he said, referring to Olcott.

In other business, Michele Dias, legal counsel for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, recommended the fair develop a policy for handling events that feature cannabis or hemp, following the November passage of Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Dias said guidance from the Department of Fairs and Expositions would be forthcoming.

Olcott asked Dias whether people could smoke marijuana on the grounds during the events. 

"It depends," said Dias, who went on to note the new law "was kind of groundbreaking."

Dias encouraged the fair board and Olcott to make sure any policy conforms with county guidelines.

The board voted to elevate vice chairman David A. Torres to chairman this year; board member Blodgie Rodriguez was selected as vice chairman.

The board adjourned to closed session to discuss "pending litigation (personnel action)" and Olcott's performance evaluation.

(13) comments

horsiemom

Katie helped who Katie wanted to help period. I for one am glad to see she is gone. They need to fill the livestock office with all new people who are there for the kids. With that said, some of the parents who have children who show need to learn how to be nice and get along. Some of the exhibitors parents are the meanest people I have ever seen in my life, it is a wonder the livestock people are so nasty. Get along everyone.

JMac24

I agree with you that most of the exhibitors parents are the meanest, rudest people out there. They are supposed to be role models to the kids, yet they act worse than most kids themselves.
However, I do not agree with you when you say Katie helped who Katie wanted to help. Katie was with the livestock department for 30+ years and in all those years, she was absolutely 100% there for the kids, as well as the rest of the livestock staff. I know they definitely weren't there for the money. Anything that the livestock staff did was because of how they were trained or a lack thereof due to Mr. Olcott not wanting to provide it. If you want to start pointing fingers or basically say that Katie played favorites and only helped who she wanted to help, then you also need to look at Mr. Olcott and his history of brushing livestock issues under the rug for the select exhibitors, 4H leaders, or FFA teachers he wanted to help. It's only a matter of time before the public will get the WHOLE story, not just the stuff Mr. Olcott wants you to see and hear.

horsiemom

I agree with you about the parents, but I have personally seen poor decisions Katie has made that either benefitted her in some way or it was a power control thing and it in no way shape or form was a good thing for the kids.

horsiemom

When we were first in 4H we were told to stay far away from the livestock office because if you pissed off Katie you would always be on her bad side and never get anything done in the live stock office and this was by veteran 4H people. Welcome to an organization for our children.

Barking Spider

High drama at the fairgrounds. The porker pandemonium continues. You would think that it was a mobster trial the way everyone is trying to hide their faces, refusing to be identified, and going into hiding. Did anyone take the fifth? Maybe they could offer immunity in exchange for testimony against the other conspirators. Eric Holder is looking for work. Get him on the hotline. He does have considerable experience around the hogtrough.

I thought raising and selling their animals was to provide the kids a learning experience and the only thing that they have learned is how a bunch of adults can act like children. Is it that big of a deal that a probably well intentioned individual fudged the weight of the pig when their other entry died to go to the lengths that this has gone?

I am not connected to any of the cast of characters and am viewing it from afar (thankfully), but I did live in Bakerspatch for many years. Get over it and move on people. This is the apex of silliness.

amtfor attorneys

Iv been with the fair 10 years providing free entertainment think what they did here was wrong sure it was thats how the county is run you should met Judy who decides who plays at the fair if u say just one wrong word to her she's down your throat. Iv said for years they need to get rid of here and her family who control the entertainment thats why you see the same entertainers there year after year and wonder who they got the paid jobs they are just not good its a joke I myself asked her that when I decided to stop going anymore why she pays those same entertainers year after year after she tells me she need space for new talent she was speechless how dare I question her she black balled band for questing her . On her forms it say if u have any problems with your day to play let her know , so I call her let her know she yells at me saying this is the only time she will change the date then I say remove your notice saying call me. she's just to mean for this job and controlling .

Bugg

I had heard this lady was trying to help out a youth, whose pig had died while at fair, although it may have been handled wrong, the child should have been allowed to go to auction, maybe without her hog as there are people who support FFA and 4H.
Years back when I was in 4H, a child had lost his lamb, due to some idiot putting drano in the animal's water, the lamb died while at fair, but the administrators still allowed the child to go toto fair auction, minus his lamb, as he still had buyer supporters, who bought the lamb at its registered price per pound. It helps support the kids.

kerncountytaxpayer

Over the years, the words “phony, fraudster, charlatan, untrustworthy, dishonest, irresponsible, unreliable, deceitful, unscrupulous, perfidious, treacherous, two-faced” have been used to describe the Kern County Fair/Livestock department. The report from the Division of Measurement Standards Weighmaster Program Report validates some of these words. Ben Harper once said “Life is short and if you're looking for extension, you had best do well. 'Cause there's good deeds and then there's good intentions. They are as far apart as Heaven and He_l.”

amtfor attorneys

boy you said it right that also goes for the people Viking Co who hires the entertainment for the fair

Plumbing Doc

I know a lot of the fair personnel and most are not bad people. Cut this woman a break, the kid she did this for had their other pig die at the fair and she did this out of sympathy. Give her a write up, slap her hand, institute some oversight, make training mandatory for all, and work towards a better brighter future.

horsiemom

Katie does not need a break. I have seen very poor decisions made by her just because she could even when very good reasons for doing or not doing something were given resulting in animal death or injury.

JMac24

Maybe Mike should be investigated as well. He has his fair share of lies and cover ups relating to the livestock department. He's ust brushed them under the rug hoping nobody would find out. If he's going to take Katie down, he needs to go down as well because what he's done is just as bad, if not worse.

horsiemom

I don't know anything about what Mike has or hasn't done. I only dealt with him once and he was very nice and seemed to be very pro kids. I just know a lot of the people who run things at the fair have egos bigger than the universe and can be very nasty. It would be difficult to deal with them. I personally have seen very poor decisions Katie has made to benefit her and not the kids.

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