After 50+ years working at State Fair, General Manager Jerry Hammer to retire in spring

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			After 50+ years working at State Fair, General Manager Jerry Hammer to retire in spring
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The longtime leader of the Minnesota State Fair will retire in the spring, according to a Monday announcement.

Jerry Hammer has worked for the State Fair for 53 years, the last 26 as chief executive officer. He is the longest-serving CEO of the Fair in its 169-year-old history.

“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve this amazing place for so long,” Hammer said in Monday’s statement. “What a great gift it is when your life’s work is bringing people together to celebrate the very best of each other. This is way more than an agricultural fair. It’s a uniquely Minnesota-style celebration of our humanity.”

Hammer started working for the Fair’s greenhouse in 1970 when he was a 15-year-old high school student. He joined the staff full-time, working in events, media, marketing, public relations and senior management before he was appointed as CEO in 1997.

The State Fair said, during Hammer’s years in charge, the Fair’s attendance has significantly grown, as has programming and revenue “with a Super Bowl-sized annual economic impact in the Twin Cities of $300 million, plus more unmeasured impact across the state.”

There have been nearly $180 million in major improvements and upgrades, including renovation of historic facilities, new construction, and expansion of fairgrounds landscape, amenities and infrastructure during Hammer’s years in charge. These projects didn’t use public funding.

“Much of the work was accomplished through the State Fair’s bonding authority along with the Minnesota State Fair Foundation — both launched during Hammer’s first years as CEO,” according to the Fair’s statement.

The State Fair’s board of managers is starting a search process to select the next CEO.

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