Management & Governance

Meet Our Team


Reg AshHeather BlackwellGreg BlanchardRob Lumsden | James SmithWhitney Crawford


Governors | Programming Council |  Senate

Management Team  


Reg Ash 



Reg is the newest CEO of the Western Fair Association – a title that only a handful of individuals have held. In this role, he is responsible for executive oversight of the Association’s business interests and implementation of the strategic plan approved by the board.  

His agricultural roots run deep and trace back to his younger days in his small hometown of Chesley, Ontario. In fact, their home was next door to the local Massey Ferguson dealership. His grandparents operated a small family farm.  

Reg started with WFA in 2001 managing the Sports Centre and since then has gained valuable experience in all facets of the business. His proudest achievements are the opening of the Sports Centre in 2001, the 2012 Western Fair, the formation of the Standardbred Alliance in 2013, the renovation and re-opening of the Agriplex in 2015, becoming CEO in 2019 and the launch of The Grove in 2019.  

He is an avid cyclist and serves as a coach and volunteer board member. Reg met his wife Jen in 1990 while attending Western University and they are the proud parents of Nate and Lily.  

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Heather Blackwell

Director of Engagement


Heather has been a passionate and dedicated member of the Western Fair family for more than a quarter-century. She has had the opportunity to work in several different roles during that time and currently oversees agricultural and community initiatives that include agri-business shows, The Market, agri-food education, The Grove and our annual signature event The Western Fair.  

She has taken the life lessons learned as a kid on the farm and incorporated those into what has been a remarkable career. Heather has had the pleasure of working with four of the Association’s General Managers and CEO’s and their respective teams. She feels fortunate to have worked with numerous board members, volunteers and community leaders over the years who share our vision of doing greater good for our local community.  

Watching and working with our loyal, dedicated staff to pull together what she calls ‘the magic’ within an array of events has been her greatest source of pride.  

A bit of a creative spirit, Heather enjoys being outdoors whenever possible. She likes to share lots of laughs with friends and her wonderful family that keeps her quite busy in this stage of her life. When time permits, she looks forward to a quiet moment lakeside, a good book and a glass of wine and good conversation.   

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Greg Blanchard

Director of Equine Programming


Greg has been with the Association since 2010, beginning as announcer and assistant manager at The Raceway before moving into the position of Director of Racing and recently transitioning back into Director of Equine Programming.  

His proudest accomplishment at WFD was his team’s work in positioning The Raceway as the highest wagering Signature racetrack in Canada – a business unit the new Raceway team continues to take to new heights. 

Having grown up in Prince Edward Island he was exposed to Agriculture and realized how critical the industry is in people’s everyday lives. He is proud to be part of an organization that supports all facets of the Agri-food industry.  

Greg is a ‘wannabe’ culinary master who enjoys creating new dishes. He also enjoys days at the beach or a round of golf whenever possible.  

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Rob Lumsden

Director of Business Development


Rob is one of our longest serving employees, having started in 2002, and knows the facilities and property they occupy inside out. He wears many different hats and oversees grandstand facilities and operations, annual fair operations, security, snow removal and landscaping.  

His official title is Director of Business Development, with responsibility for Sales & Marketing, Food & Beverage, The Sports Centre, and Security.  

When not at work, Rob enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter and two dogs. He coaches his daughter’s hockey team and is an avid hockey and slo-pitch player himself.  

He is proud to be part of a team that helps educate and facilitate Agricultural experiences to the local community.  

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James Smith



James is an Aussie who came to Canada 30 years ago, with over 30 years of culinary, academic and leadership experience.

James has held positions as both a Chair, and Associate Dean of Culinary, Hospitality and Tourism schools. James’ primary passion has always been about food, healthy, and clean eating, hospitality, and culinary arts, having trained as a chef, and worked at several Toronto landmark restaurants including - Scaramouche, Truffles at the Four Seasons, and Boba restaurants. James also brings a wealth of experience in Food Media having worked on Food Network productions such as Christine Cushing Live, Martin Yan’s Chinatowns, Cook Like a Chef Series, as well as working with Canadian Living Magazine as a writer, and recipe creator.

James’ personal education journey includes obtaining a Culinary Management Diploma as well as his Red Seal Chef Certification before he completed his MBA in Hospitality and Tourism from the University of Guelph.

James has many personal passions which include soccer, running, playing guitar, and entertaining, as well as a love for doing small home renovations, and home improvement projects.

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Whitney Crawford

Director of Events and recreation


Whitney joined the Association in 2016 and currently oversees our Sports Centre facility where she provides guidance and direction to the hard-working team who handle the day-to-day operations, giving her time to focus on high-level planning and vision. She also liaises with our talented Food and Beverage team which recently came back under the Association’s umbrella.  

She enjoys staying active on the golf course or ball diamond, and likes to start most days with a sweat at a local fitness studio. She also enjoys cooking, iced coffee, and country music as well as spending time with family and friends around a good bonfire. 

Hosting two Continental Cup of Curling events (2018 and 2020) are Whitney’s proudest achievements during her time here. “Any time we are able to host a large national or international event, our building is filled with an extra buzz of excitement that is so neat to experience. It’s incredible to see how the rink can transform into a completely different event.” 

Like most of our employees, Whitney also has ties to agriculture with her in-laws being third-generation poultry farmers.  

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Governance (Dec. 14, 2022)

2022-23 Governors 

The authoritative governing body of the Association.

Chair John Finan  
Vice Chair 

Bill Boyce

  Kathy Breen  

Frank Kennes

Mark Horner

John Leitch

Peter Whatmore


Colin Yates

Mary Anne Zwambag
Middlesex County Representative John Brennan  
City Representative Susan Stevenson  
Past Chair Ann Straatman  
Second Past Chair Joe Dales  

Programming Council President

Brian Slaughter  


2022-23 Programming Council

The Programming Council is an advisory committee of the Board. The Programming Council shall be responsible for advising the Board on all matters relating to programming for the Annual Fair and all Association owned and operated events.

President Brian Slaughter  
Vice President Rhonda Persichilli  

Board of Governors Chair

John Finan


Norm McNaughton

Eric Thomson


Tariq Khan

Betty Ann MacKinnon



Warden Cathy Burghardt-Jesson  

Middlesex County Representative

Brian Ropp


City Representatives

Skylar Franke
Elizabeth Peloza

2022-23 Senate

The Senate acts as advisors to the Board on matters that affect the overall well-being and future of the Association.

Ann Straatman, Chair  

Michelle Campbell

 Joe Dales
Jan Delaney Denny Lang

Ken Levy

Al Marr
Don McCallum Karl Nevin
John White Gary Williams
Tim Kelly  

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