Featured in episode one of "Good Things Brewing" Season 2, Shari Black serves as the Executive Director and CEO of Wisconsin State Fair Park. Her career began at the Waukesha County Fair, where she worked for 20 years, including 15 as Executive Director. In 2016, she transitioned to State Fair Park, serving as the Senior Director of Event Services and Chief Programs Officer. She became CEO prior to the 2022 Wisconsin State Fair. Shari has a bachelor’s degree from Carroll University, holds a Certified Fair Executive designation through the International Association of Fairs and Expositions, and serves on numerous committees and boards. She oversees a staff of nearly 80 year-round employees, along with over 1,200 part-time employees.


Milwaukee was named one of the best big cities in the country in the 2024 Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards. What do you feel sets our city apart? What makes us unique? 

Milwaukee is a small city with big city attractions. We have numerous museums, water sports, amazing restaurants, a performing arts center, sports venues, music venues and festivals. There really is something for everyone. Milwaukee is easy to navigate, with an international airport close by. Our city is also very affordable, and you can't beat our Midwest charm!


Milwaukee was listed as one of National Geographic's best destinations for slow travel in 2023, meaning that the community plays an integral role in the visitor experience. The publication also noted the city's tight-knit creative community. What role does our community play in making Milwaukee a great place to live and visit? 

Milwaukee is a great place to live and visit because of the people! Milwaukeeans take pride in showing off their city. It is important to make sure visitors have a great experience. We go out of our way to provide great customer service. It is a great place to raise a family because of the culture and the experiences that the city can offer to students.


While noting a local renaissance in the form of development throughout Milwaukee, the National Geographic piece also shares many of the iconic institutions and local staples. What is something you wish more people knew about Milwaukee? What are some hidden gems that you feel often go overlooked? 

There is a lot to do in Milwaukee in the winter! Ice skating in Red Arrow Park, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing trails in Milwaukee County Parks, ice fishing on a lake in the Milwaukee area, shopping the Winter Farmers Market, visiting one of our many museums, take a brewery tour, dine at our one our fabulous restaurants or eat your way through the Milwaukee Public Market.


David Caruso and Shari Black at Harbor House


Did you grow up in Milwaukee? If yes, how have you seen it grow and evolve over your lifetime?

I grew up in a suburb of Milwaukee, so as a family, we attended numerous events in Milwaukee. I think the city has revived itself to offer more opportunities to a larger demographic that makes people want to keep coming back.


What is your vision for Milwaukee as it continues its evolution? 

I hope Milwaukee continues to grow its offerings. Adding the downtown Kohl's Department Store was great, but I would like to see it continue to build on that. We need more shopping!


As a featured community member in "Good Things Brewing," you must be passionate about all our city has to offer. What do you love about Milwaukee and why? 

I love the energy that Milwaukee projects. There is always a buzz downtown. With the numerous festivals, museums and various sporting events going on, there is always something to do, no matter what your budget is.


With the title of “Good Things Brewing,” what do you have brewing? What is on the horizon for the community you are looking forward to? 

I am looking forward to providing a fun and safe family event during the annual Wisconsin State Fair in August. I am also excited about hosting our first IndyCar Race at the Milwaukee Mile in almost a decade.


See where to tune in this weekend to catch Shari's episode of "Good Things Brewing"!