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Eastern States Exposition Names Elena Hovagimian Director of Agriculture

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Elena Hovagimian has been promoted to director of Agriculture at the Eastern States Exposition (ESE) after a 25-year career spanning agriculture and education, IT, and retail sales management at the West Springfield fair and trade-show facility.

“I am so proud to have the opportunity to appoint Elena Hovagimian as Eastern States Exposition’s director of Agriculture,” ESE President and CEO Eugene Cassidy, said. “This important role has a national standing within our industry; Elena’s appointment reflects her professional growth within this organization and her accomplishments for agriculture in New England and beyond. I am excited for her to lead our agricultural programming, knowing that she will advance our mission and our impact in new and exciting ways.”

Hovagimian, who succeeds retiring Director of Agriculture Donna Woolam, will oversee all agriculturally based events year-round as well as the hundreds of animals entered in shows and contests, educational presentations, the Creative Arts department, the Fiber Festival of New England, the Gold Medal Wine and Cheese competitions, and retail sales for the Farmers Market, Storrowton Village Museum Gift Shop, and Christmas Shop.

“I am committed to the agricultural mission of the Exposition and am excited to work with the stakeholders of New England agriculture,” she said. “I look forward to continuing to grow the local agricultural economy by strengthening relationships between the farmer and the consumer.”

Hovagimian joined the Eastern States Exposition staff in October 1997 as a part-time data-entry clerk, and shortly thereafter became assistant to the Agriculture manager. In addition, she took on the Management Information Systems (MIS) coordinator duties, supervising and implementing the computer systems and programs in the company.

In January 2007, she became a full-time staff member at ESE as Agriculture and Education/MIS coordinator. She was responsible for coordinating and producing more than 119 agricultural events throughout the year and during the Big E. She also increased the efficiency of all facets of the department through the use of computer software and technology.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from UMass Amherst, a master’s degree in innovative thinking and entrepreneurial business practices from Bay Path University and a certificate for online journalism from UMass. She graduated from the International Assoc. of Fairs and Expositions’ (IAFE) Institute of Fair Management in 2015, and earned her certified fair executive status from the IAFE in 2018.

During her career, Hovagimian led a cross-functional team to innovate and promote New England agriculture in a virtual environment, maintaining the pillars of the Exposition’s mission. She also developed processes and systems of efficient software and technology applications to allow for day-to-day business to continue in a remote environment. She developed four attractions outside of the Big E, including the Big East Youth Cattle and Jackpot Show, the Fiber Festival of New England, and the Wine and Cheese competitions.

Hovagimian is an active member of the IAFE, where she chaired the agriculture and education committee in 2020 and was website technology committee chair in 2017. She is also a member of the North American Livestock Show and Rodeo Managers Assoc. and the Massachusetts Cheese Guild Advisory Board.

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