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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Minnesota State Fair will be under new leadership next year.

Jerry Hammer, who has served as the CEO of the "Great Minnesota Get Together" for the last 26 years, has announced plans to retire next spring. According to a news release, Hammer has worked for the State Fair organization for 53 years and his stint as CEO is the longest in the 169-year history of the annual state festival. He started his career in 1970 as a 15-year-old high school student and was hired full-time in 1977 before he was appointed CEO in 1997.

“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve this amazing place for so long,” Hammer said. “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.”

Minnesota State Fair
Minnesota State Fair

The news release announcing his retirement says Hammer supervised nearly $180 million in major improvements and upgrades to the 322-acre State Fairgrounds, noting that it was all accomplished without public funding. Instead, the renovation work, new construction, and other amenities were funded through the State Fair’s own bonding authority and the Minnesota State Fair Foundation, which were launched in the first few years after Hammer was promoted to the CEO position.

The State Fair’s board of managers has launched a search process to find his successor. Hammer is indicated he will stay in the CEO post into next spring to help with the transition to new leadership.

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