DES MOINES, Iowa — Gary Slater, the longtime CEO and Manager of the Iowa State Fair, announced his retirement on Wednesday to the Fair’s board. Slater has been in charge at the fairgrounds for the last 21 years.

Slater called it “the honor of a lifetime to lead the Iowa State Fair” for more than two decades. He was hired for the job in 2001 after previously running the State Fair in his home state of Missouri.

Slater has overseen a nearly complete overhaul of the fairgrounds in the last two decades with numerous new exhibition halls and spaces as well as renovations of historic spaces. The fair regularly attracts more than one million visitors annually.

The Iowa State Fair Board will meet in the future to discuss the next steps in choosing Slater’s replacement.