According to their website, the Iowa State Fair has been an annual tradition since 1854.

For the last nearly 21 of those years, Gary Slater has been at the helm of it all. The food vendors, the annual anticipation of the newest food-on-a-stick grouping, the rides, the marquee live entertainment, and even the crucial albeit possibly more boring stuff like the Presidential candidates stumping for themselves or local candidates. Did we mention the famous butter cow? It's all been part of the show Slater has been overseeing for the last 20 years, but this week he announced his retirement, according to the Des Moines Register.

In a Wednesday news release, Slater said:

It has been an honor of a lifetime to lead the Iowa State Fair as its CEO and manager for more than twenty years

According to the Register, the Fair under Slater's oversight has seen growth in almost every measure, pointing specifically to attendance where it regularly hits or exceeds 1 million fairgoers each year.

In 2022, the Fair set a single-day attendance record of 128,298 and was just 51 ticket sales short of its overall 2019 record. Attendance topped one million for the first time ever under Slater's watch in 2001.

He helped spearhead several improvements to the fairgrounds that have contributed to that growth. A $17.5 million renovation of the grandstand in 2018 led to the fair's top-selling concert to date, country singer Chris Stapleton, with 17,320 reportedly in attendance.

He was also part of the announcement at the end of this year's fair, of a planned upcoming $25 million livestock pavilion renovation. As his colleagues at the Iowa State Fair do, we as patrons and Iowans wish Gary Slater well in his retirement.

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