Jenn Draper to take over as Hawkeye Downs' executive director, events manager

Jenn Draper, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance
Jenn Draper, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance

CEDAR RAPIDS — Days after its sale to a new owner, Hawkeye Downs has announced a new executive director and events manager.

Jenn Draper, event planner with the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, will start in her new role with the Cedar Rapids racetrack and entertainment venue in mid-February, said Julie Kraft, president of the All Iowa Agricultural Association, in a news release Monday.

Among the popular events Draper planned and coordinated over her past five years at the Economic Alliance are its Downtown Farmers Markets and Market After Dark gatherings.

“I’m honored to be a part of an organization with such a rich history in Cedar Rapids,” Draper said in the release. “Hawkeye Downs has a great story to tell, and I’m ready to proudly share the newest chapter with our community.”

Draper will be tasked with helping Hawkeye Downs grow its event schedule and its entertainment and racing facility offerings.

“I’m looking forward to finding creative ways to use the space at Hawkeye Downs to engage new crowds, while maintaining and elevating the racing experience fans expect at this venue,” she said.

Kraft said in her release she believes Draper’s events planning experience and “vast” community connections will help turn Hawkeye Downs into a “top events and racing destination.”

“She has a terrific track record of producing top notch events,” Kraft said.


Cedar Rapids City Council member Ann Poe was executive director of Hawkeye Downs for two and a half years, before leaving the position in September.

Poe told The Gazette at the time, “I felt I’d done everything I could do for them, and it was time for me to move on.”

An operations manager then oversaw Hawkeye Downs’ operations until mid-December, Kraft said in an email.

CellSite Solutions, a used telecommunications equipment supplier in Cedar Rapids, last week bought the 93.98-acre Hawkeye Downs property from the All Iowa Agricultural Association for $2.6 million.

Hawkeye Downs will lease the racetrack and expo halls back for CellSite in continuing its racing and other events, starting with a gun show this weekend.

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