Acknowledging the crowd's roar, McCrary with the winner of the North American Six-Horse Hitch Series at The Big E 2011. For a related story about the event, click on the image. Photo, Moo Dog PressWayne McCary, president and CEO of Eastern States Exposition (ESE), has announced his retirement effective June 26, 2012. He has been at the helm since July 1991.

Under his leadership, the exposition experienced significant growth, with more than $36 million in improvements made to its physical plant as well as the facility’s infrastructure. Topping the list are upgrades in the midway area, the completion of the agricultural complex and the building of a Food Court, Gate 1 Visitors Center and the covered access to the equine arena.

McCary spearheaded a successful bid to extend The Big E from 12 to 17 days in 1994, and brought new ideas to the fair, including an authentic Mardi Gras Parade with New Orleans-made floats.

Located on 175 acres in West Springfield, Mass., ESE is home to The Big E, the largest fair in the Northeast. More than 100 shows are held on the grounds year round. ESE was founded in 1916 and is a not-for-profit agricultural, educational institution.

The ESE was selected as site for the 2014 World Percheron Congress, the world’s largest gathering of Percheron horses. set for Oct. 6-11, 2014.

Three industry honors have been bestowed upon McCary: The International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) Hall of Fame, 2001; The New England Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (NEAAPA) Hall of Fame, 2009; and The Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs Association Hall of Fame, 2010. He is accredited as a certified fair executive by the IAFE and served with distinction as its president in 1997.

ESE Chairman of the Board Donald Chase announced that Eugene Cassidy, ESE executive vice president and chief operating officer, will succeed McCary effective June 27, 2012.