Changing Of The Guard: South Florida Fair Marks The End Of An Era And A New Beginning

New South Florida Fair CEO Matt Wallsmith with retiring CEO Vicki Chouris.

The South Florida Fair is bidding “fair-well” to Vicki Chouris, president and CEO of the South Florida Fair & Palm Beach County Expositions Inc. Her retirement on June 30 at the close of the fair’s fiscal year marks the end of an era. She has been with the fair for 43 years.

Chouris was responsible for overseeing a staff of 55 people and managing the production of the annual 17-day fair. Among her highlights as CEO, she successfully navigated the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The South Florida Fair was one of the few fairs in the nation to hold its annual event, and in 2021, Chouris decided to hold an additional fair in May to make up for smaller crowds at the January fair due to the lingering effects of the pandemic.

Chouris has been a full-time employee of the South Florida Fair since 1985. If you add her part-time years with the fair, it’s an impressive 43 years.

Her time with the fair began when she moved to Florida and was working for a bank. In 1982, the fair’s finance director asked if anyone would like to help during the fair in the finance office.

“I did that for four consecutive fairs, and then I was offered a full-time position as executive secretary to the CEO after the 1985 fair,” Chouris said.

She worked her way up, holding the positions of sponsorship manager and chief operating officer. In July 2019, she was named president and CEO, becoming the first woman to ever hold that position with the South Florida Fair.

Chouris said what she’ll miss the most are the people — her staff and the volunteers who make it all happen.

“I’ll also miss seeing the smiles of the fairgoers, knowing that they are bringing joy to thousands of people, thanks to the time, effort and talents of our staff and volunteers,” Chouris said.

Matt Wallsmith will take the reins from Chouris starting July 1, a promotion from his current position of the fair’s chief financial officer. During his 26 years with the South Florida Fair, he was responsible for handling the accounting and overseeing the gates, midway, concessions, information technology and maintenance operations. He also was instrumental in creating Fright Nights, the South Florida Fair’s largest event outside of the annual fair in January.

Wallsmith earned a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Florida and began his career in public accounting at Ernst & Young LLP. He is a licensed CPA in Florida.

As the fair’s new president and CEO, Wallsmith plans to focus on improving parking and enhancing the overall experience and value for fairgoers.

“I’m excited to lead the South Florida Fair into its next chapter, emphasizing innovation, sustainability and excellence,” Wallsmith said. “I’m looking forward to working closely with the board, leadership team and all employees to drive the organization’s mission and deliver exceptional experiences to fairgoers.”

The South Florida Fair is produced by the South Florida Fair & Palm Beach County Expositions Inc., a nonprofit organization, and has a longstanding tradition of raising funds for educational and charitable purposes.

The 2025 South Florida Fair will kick off with its ride-a-thon at 5 p.m. on Jan. 16 and the full fair will be held Jan. 17 through Feb. 2, 2025. The fair staff also presents additional events throughout the year, including Breakfast with the Easter Bunny, the Sweet Corn Fiesta, the Gigantic Garage Sale, Fright Nights, Spookyville and more. For more information, call (561) 793-0333 or visit