Jeremy Parsons, of the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa, will officially be named CEO and manager of the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. Gary Slater, who has held the top position since 2001, announced his retirement in October of 2022. Parsons' appointment will be effective in early March.
"We could not be more excited to announce the transition of CEO and Fair Manager to Jeremy Parsons," said Darwin Gaudian, Northwest District Board member and current President of the Iowa State Fair Board. "His long list of fair credentials, his community involvement, his leadership skills and his passion for the fair industry are the perfect combination to lead the Iowa State Fair into the future."
With more than 30 years of fair experience, Parsons spent his early years as a seasonal employee at the Iowa State Fair and as a volunteer at his home county fair in Leon, Iowa. A former teacher and coach, Parsons served as the executive director of the Missouri State Fair Foundation before being named the CEO/Manager of the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa in 2011.
"It is an honor to have been chosen to serve as caretaker for one of Iowa's most beloved institutions," said Parsons. "The Iowa State Fair holds a special place in my heart and I am humbled to join the team responsible for building upon the Fair's rich heritage and traditions."
Parsons has a B.A. degree in English from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo., and a M.A. degree in education from William Woods University in Fulton, Mo. A passionate advocate for the fair industry, Parsons just completed his reign as Chairman of the International Association of Fairs and Expos (IAFE) and was honored with the Fairman of the Year award from the Association of Iowa Fairs in December of 2022. He is a graduate of the IAFE Institute of Fair Management and is a Certified Fair Executive. Parsons has held numerous leadership roles within the IAFE as well as around the Spencer, Iowa community. He and his wife Kelsi have three sons.
*Photo available upon request.