Grandstand guru takes over as new Minnesota State Fair CEO

A midway ride lit up at night
A Midway ride at the Minnesota State Fair in 2022.
Mike Madison/Bump Opera Photography for MPR

Renee Alexander, deputy general manager at the Minnesota State Fair and head of the fair’s entertainment offerings, will be the new CEO for the Great Minnesota Get Together. 

Headshot of a woman
Renee Alexander, deputy general manager at the Minnesota State Fair, was named CEO on Feb. 27. She is the first woman in the Minnesota State Agriculture Society's more than 150-year history to head the fair, and succeeds longtime general manager Jerry Hammer.
Minnesota State Fair

“My commitment to the Minnesota State Fair extends well beyond this merely being a job,” Alexander said. “I love this institution and all that it stands for — a showcase of the very best of our state, a place where amazing memories are created and where ‘The Great Minnesota Get-Together’ is more than a slogan,” she said in a statement announcing her appointment Monday.

Alexander has been with the State Fair for more than 20 years and a deputy general manager for the last 13. She is best known for booking the annual series of Grandstand shows, one of the biggest attractions. 

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

Previously When Renee Alexander almost booked Prince

Alexander originally started working in entertainment and marketing at the Minnesota State Fair in 1989, left in 1994 and returned in 2005. She served as a key aide to longtime general manager Jerry Hammer, as she led the fair’s educational programming, marketing and communications, media relations, web and publications, archives and ticketing departments.

She is the first woman to lead the fair in the Minnesota State Agricultural Society’s more than 150-year history. Alexander grew up in Coon Rapids, Minn.

Hammer, who had worked at the fair for more than 50 years, spent the last 27 as general manager. He announced his retirement late last year.

“Renee is perfect for the job,” said Hammer, in the statement announcing Alexander’s hire. “She has a deep understanding and appreciation for the State Fair’s powerful impact here in Minnesota and beyond.

The fair’s 10-member board has been weighing a successor for months and, as has always been the case, picked an internal candidate. Hammer is expected to step away from his duties this spring, leaving Alexander to oversee her first fair starting Aug. 24 through Sept. 4.