A nationwide search for the next general manager of the Ohio Expo Center and Ohio State Fair is now underway, according to Gov. Mike DeWine.
During a joint news conference June 1, Virgil Strickler, who has served as the Expo Center and state fair general manager since 2004, announced that he will retire around the end of the year.
“With Virgil’s departure, we will have some big boots to fill,” DeWine said. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Virgil for many years and wish him nothing but the best as he begins his retirement.”
Strickler is the longest-running general manager in the history of the Ohio State Fair. He began his career at the Ohio Expo Center in 1993 as agriculture director and was then selected for the role of general manager in January 2004.
“Today is bittersweet. I will be forever grateful for the last three decades at the Ohio State Fair,” Strickler said. “I’ve grown up at fairs, and Ohio’s county and independent fairs are what makes our state fair so strong. I’ve watched my children, and now grandchildren, grow up here. The state fair means so much to generations of Ohioans, and I’m proud of the strong partnerships we’ve developed over the years, and how they have helped our state fair grow and improve each year.”
Youth Reserve Program
Strickler was instrumental in implementing the Ohio State Fair’s nationally recognized Youth Reserve Program in 1995, which has awarded $4,691,150 in scholarships to more than 44,500 youth exhibitors since its inception. In recognition of Strickler’s dedication to the Ohio State Fair over the past three decades, DeWine renamed the program in his honor.
“I’m pleased to announce that this generous program will now be known as the Virgil L. Strickler Youth Reserve Program,” said DeWine. “While Virgil has accomplished so much during his tenure with the state, this program and his support of Ohio’s youth are truly his legacy.”