MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — The 65th edition of the Martin County Fair kicks off next week, but this year's event is marked by the sudden departure in January of the fair's executive director after less than six months on the job.
In her resignation letter to county commissioners, KC Ingram Mullen cited what she perceived as "serious financial misrepresentations" regarding grant applications the fair board sent to the state.
"I'm deeply disappointed this has ended in my resignation," Mullen said.
"In those applications, I had some questions that came up about the in-kind donations," Ingram Mullen said. "I felt we needed an attorney's opinion, a legal opinion, about these donations."
She claims she was not allowed to go to an attorney to get advice and decided to resign.
For years the fair has been planning to move from its current location in Stuart out west to a larger site in Indiantown. The fair association has been fundraising, trying to come up with about $3.4 million to make that move.
Micah Robbins, who is on the fair board of directors said the fair is financially healthy.
"We've created some great opportunities," Robbins said. "We have some really good grants that are ready to be taken advantage of."
The goal is to eventually build the "Treasure Coast Agriplex," an 80-acre site next to Indiantown Gigh School.
"You have leadership changes ... ups and downs. Grants that are in, grants that are out," Robbins said. "You have to keep your eye on the mission and the mission right now is to always provide the best kind of fair experience we can for the people of Martin County."
WPTV contacted the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, where those grant applications were sent, and asked whether there were any improprieties.
A spokeswoman said that according to the project guidelines, with the facts that they had on file, the project complied with state law.
"This state is very supportive of fairs and festivals," Robbins said. "They know it's a real important piece to our communities."
As for the eventual move, the fair's president told WPTV last fall that it was likely the fair would stay in Stuart at least through 2026 when the current lease expires.