More changes in the works at the fair
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Each year, The Great New York State Fair adds a few different acts or attractions, but this year should prove a banner year for novelty as the fair plans to open a 136,000-sq. foot building in the midst of its 375-acre campus in time for this year’s fair. It’s to be the “largest event space north of New York City between Boston and Cleveland,” stated an official press release from the fair.
The new structure is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Central New York Rising” plan to bring more revenue to the economy.
More than just the site of The Great New York State Fair, the fairgrounds hosts events year-round, including industry expos, animal shows, entertainment events, auctions and more.
The new building’s design is planned to complement the historic appearance of the existing building at the fairgrounds.
“The new Expo Center will give us all the tools for a major year-round events business,” said Troy Waffner, state fair acting director. “As soon as the building was announced, we began to get interest from potential users. We will capitalize on that interest and deliver the promised benefits to Central New York.”
The building will be 110,000 square feet in size, include 4,000 retractable seats and boast an open space span of 250 feet. For expos, it will accommodate up to 500 10-by-10 foot booths.
It will also offer rooms for event workspace, meetings and conferences. For guest comfort, the new center will provide restrooms, concessions and a kitchen.
The next big improvement phase for the fairgrounds includes two measures that should improve guest experience: paving more of the parking spaces near the fair and improving traffic flow.
Although The Great New York State Fair is the nation’s first and oldest fair, the fairgrounds had not received any significant improvements in 80 years. While the fair has maintained its buildings, it needed a fresh look, better infrastructure and more space to entice more fairgoers and increase the number of year-round events hosted at the Fairgrounds.
That all began changing since beginning the recent two years’ improvements. They include a new entrance façade, RV park and expanded midway, which appear to have improved attendance. In the past two years, attendance has increased by more than 25 percent, making it the third-largest state fair in the nation. By providing more space for vendors or attractions, the new building may have a similar effect.
This year, the fair runs from Aug. 22 through Sept. 3. Visit https://nysfair.ny.gov for more information on the fair and year-round events hosted at the fairgrounds.