SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Director of Agriculture Jerry Costello II announced the hiring of Rebecca Clark as the next manager of the Illinois State Fair.
Clark replaces Kevin Gordon who came out of retirement to manage the last two Illinois State Fairs in 2019 and 2021. The 2020 state fair was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gordon announced his retirement in late August 2021. He originally retired in 2017 after a 29-year career with the state, including 17 years with the fair. He managed both the Illinois State Fair and DuQuoin State Fair in 2016 and 2017.
Clark is no stranger to the fair having formerly served as the public information officer for the Illinois Department of Agriculture. She served as the PIO for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency before assuming her new role on Jan. 1.
While at IDOA, Clark worked hand in hand with state fair staff promoting and marketing the fair and coordinating all press coverage.
“Rebecca’s leadership at IEMA has helped guide our state through this pandemic, and I’m glad she will continue to serve our state as the next manager of the State Fair,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
“Her dedication to keeping Illinois families safe and healthy will be such an asset to bringing together residents and visitors each summer, to explore the joys that Illinois has to offer. I look forward to our continued work as we celebrate Illinois’ proud agricultural tradition — the force that drives our state forward.”
Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton said Clark is well-equipped to take the reins and continue steering the fairgrounds forward
“As chair of the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, I know the fairgrounds are essential in bringing our state together, connecting people from various regions and diverse backgrounds, and uplifting the important role agriculture plays in our lives,” Stratton said.
“The fairgrounds have always been a special place for me. I grew up coming to the Illinois State Fair and now create memories with my own children on the fairgrounds. This opportunity brings my fair-going experience full circle,” Clark said.
“I can’t wait to welcome Illinoisans to the fairgrounds, whether for the Illinois State Fair or one of the many events that call the fairgrounds home year-round.”
Costello said Clark brings with her great knowledge of the Illinois State Fair from multiple avenues.
“She knows the ins and outs of the fair due to her time while she was employed with (the state Department of) Ag and she also played a crucial part in keeping fairgoers safe and healthy during the 2021 Illinois State Fair while working for IEMA,” Costello said.
Clark is only the second woman to hold the title of Illinois State Fair manager. Amy Bliefnick served as the Illinois State Fair manager from 2005 to 2014.