Governor Takes Amtrak to the Fair; Cuts Ribbon for Opening Day
Announces New Promotion: Ride Amtrak between Aug. 21 – Sept. 2 and Get Free Fair Admission
Announces Five-Year “GreenFair” Plan to Increase Recycling, End Use of Some Plastics, and Make the Fairgrounds Energy-Independent by 2024
Announces New Gate 10 and Next Phase of Access Improvement Projects for the Fair
Renderings for GreenFair and Gate 10 Available Here
Yesterday, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo kicked off the 172nd Great New York State Fair in Syracuse. At the ribbon cutting, the Governor announced a new promotion to further drive attendance at the Fair – anyone with a valid Amtrak ticket dated between August 21 and September 2 will receive a free admission to the Fair by presenting the ticket or receipt at any Fair box office. The Governor and cabinet officials took the train from Albany to the Fair’s special train stop to highlight the ease and environmentally-friendly way of attending the Fair by train. Amtrak operates regular eastbound and westbound trains that use the special stop at the Fair. Schedules can be found here. The Governor also announced three new projects aimed at continuing the forward momentum of the revitalization of the Fairgrounds including: GreenFair, an aggressive project to make the State Fair energy self-sufficient; a new, larger Gate 10 to be completed in time for next year’s Fair; and the start of Phase 2 of the State Fair access improvement project to make the Fair more accessible for vehicles and pedestrians.
“This is a new and different fair than ever before which is why we are seeing record attendance and it’s the third most attended fair in the United States,” Governor Cuomo said. “Even if you’ve been to the fair in the past, this is a different experience after the investments we have made and it is a great economic generator for the entire region. It’s also a fair we can be proud of – a phenomenal demonstration of who we are and what we have to offer.”
“The New York State Fair continues to attract a record number of people with fun activities, events, and programs for the whole family,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who visited the Fair. “The Fair highlights some of the best local products and talent that New York has to offer, and we are continuing to invest in and grow the Fair every year. The Great New York State Fair is helping to drive tourism in Central New York and boost the economy of the region and the entire state.”
To promote attendance to the fair, two Amtrak cars on Empire Service line 63 were wrapped with specially-designed New York State Fair graphics and messaging. All Empire line trains will serve Taste NY products during the fair, with Taste NY promotional materials distributed through seatback flyers, posters and table tents. This will complement I LOVE NY’s advertising and digital campaigns that encourage visitors to experience the fair as part of their next New York State vacation.
“GreenFair” Project Aims at Energy Self-Sufficiency
The Fair will begin an aggressive project, called GreenFair, to become energy self-sufficient, eliminate waste and recycle every available item to create the greenest fair in America. The plan will involve the installation of solar panels and the construction of wind turbines — upon completion of a detailed plan to determine exact locations — to capture renewable energy and reduce, eventually to zero, the need for energy from fossil fuels by 2023. The Fair will also reduce the use of disposable plastic items and begin a pilot program to recycle food waste. Additionally, a new pavilion for environmental education will be built. The project directly supports Governor Cuomo’s Green New Deal, a clean energy and jobs agenda that puts New York State on a path to a carbon neutral economy and supports the State’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
The Fairgrounds has already taken significant steps to reduce energy use. The New York Power Authority completed in December 2018 an $866,000 project to replace lights in six of the Fairgrounds’ major buildings with energy-efficient LED lighting, lowering energy costs by an estimated $23,000 per year.
The Fair will significantly reduce the use of disposable plastics. The Fair and other state agencies will no longer give away single use plastic tote bags. Tens of thousands of reusable bags are being given away every day of the Fair, in cooperation with other state agencies that exhibit at the Fair. Fair vendors have been notified that beginning next year, single-use film plastic bags will not be permitted. In addition, vendors will be required to provide food and beverages in recyclable or compostable containers. This includes ending the use of plastic straws. A major effort to get fairgoers to recycle returnable bottles, partnered with the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNY, increased the number of bottles diverted from landfills. The Fair will also create a waste sorting facility to divert recyclable or compostable items out of the trash and set up a pilot food waste recycling program.
The Fair will create an environmental stewardship pavilion on the western end of the Fairgrounds. The new pavilion, which will be energy independent from day one, will educate fairgoers on ways they can reduce their energy footprint, update the progress of the GreenFair project, and highlight the state’s energy and climate initiatives.
This year’s fairgoers, who are interested in driving green and clean, can learn about the many benefits of driving zero-emissions vehicles and check out four electric vehicle models by visiting the EVolveNY booth near Chevy Court in front of the Arts & Music Center. Two ultra-fast 150 kW electric vehicle chargers will be on display, and information about the Drive Clean consumer rebate and New York’s statewide EV charging network will be available. Those who already drive clean can charge their vehicle at Gate Four of the Fairgrounds.
Fairgoers will be able to identify elements of the GreenFair plan through a green version of the Fair’s iconic logo.
Gate 10 Renovation and Ongoing Projects
With the relocation for safety reasons of the Centro Park-N-Ride bus depot to the western end of the Fairgrounds, the lightly-used Gate 10 becomes a second main entrance to the Fairgrounds. A $1.5 million project to replace the existing gate building will begin after the Fair and be complete in time for the 2020 Fair. The new Gate 10, when complete, will be a larger gate structure — aesthetically similar to the Expo Center — including new fencing, paving, streetscaping, lighting and a large LED billboard.
The new gate will be the first of many improvements for the western end of the grounds. Gates 3 and 4 along State Fair Boulevard were torn down earlier this year and replaced with more flexible facilities for ticketing and security.
Also in 2020, a new Sheep Barn will be built to replace the barn that was torn down earlier this year in the wake of high wind events that severely damaged the prior barn. The Wool Center, a popular Fair exhibit focusing on demonstrations using wool, will also relocate to the new Sheep Barn. Sheep are being exhibited in a tent this year.
Part of the space where the Sheep barn once stood has become Goat Park, featuring a fenced-in area where young goats can play and be seen by fairgoers, enhancing the Fair’s efforts to bring people closer to agriculture.
Other ongoing and planned facilities improvements for the next year include continuing renovations of the Daniella’s Catering and Events Steakhouse, formerly the Empire Room; acoustics improvements in the Exposition Center; a $1.1 million project to begin redeveloping agricultural buildings on the western of the grounds; improvements to the Fair’s classic Center of Progress, Horticulture and other buildings; as well as other infrastructure projects.
Orange Lot Improvements, Phase Two
Major construction on the $11.18 million New York State Fair Orange Lot Phase 2 project will begin after the conclusion of the 2019 Great New York State Fair. Preparatory work has already begun. As part of the project, the State Department of Transportation will construct a new I-690 eastbound on-ramp bridge, ensuring that a temporary traffic signal on the highway will not be required during the State Fair after 2019. The new I-690 eastbound on-ramp bridge will also accommodate pedestrians with a 10-foot pedestrian walkway that will help ease pedestrian traffic to and from the Orange lot. Construction will be complete in time for the 2020 State Fair.
Construction began on the $27 million first phase of the State Fair’s 65-acre Orange Lot in October 2017, with parts of the lot open in time for last summer’s concert season at the St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview. The Department of Transportation completed Phase 1 of Orange Lot in time for the 2018 Great New York State Fair. More than 7,000 paved parking spaces are now available in the Orange lot, up from the 4,000 to 5,000 that were available on the previous dirt surface. A new exit ramp to Interstate 690 west from the western end of the Orange Lot now allows fairgoers direct access to I-690 from the State Fair and Onondaga County amphitheater. Prior to the opening of this ramp, vehicles could only exit the Orange Lot from the Exit 7 area of I-690 during events scheduled outside of the Fair.
Phase 2 of the State Fair Access improvement project will take Phase 1 a step further. In addition to the new eastbound ramp, the project will finally address the temporary traffic signal that is installed on I-690 for the State Fair every year. Access to the interstate is requested by NYSDOT and subject to approval by FHWA on a yearly basis. Once the project is completed in 2020, there will be no further need for a traffic signal on I-690 during the Great New York State Fair.
2019 Fair Highlights
The 2019 Fair will feature a host of new events and activities, part of the annual effort to refresh the Fair and embrace new ideas. Major new promotional events include Christmas In August, featuring an all-day visit from Santa Claus and live reindeer, a display of antique sleighs, and a fun afternoon skills competition for fairgoers in Santa suits. The day ends with the screening of the movie “Elf” in the Expo Center. The new Comic Con Day at the Fair celebrates popular culture with $1 admission for people who come in full costumes, training in the use of the kind of laser swords seen in movies such as “Star Wars,” appearances from Bumblebee from the Transformers movies and the Hulkbuster from Marvel movies and comics. A special Marvel Spider-Man comic with a custom front cover showing the webslinging superhero soaring over a crowd in front of the Expo Center, will be on sale during the event.
The Fair’s new Movie Nights at the Expo features seven evenings of family-friendly movies, such as “Avengers: Endgame.” Standup Paddleboard Yoga, taking place on the weekends at the Fair, offers a fun learning challenge for experienced yoga practitioners. A turf field installed in the Expo Center will host youth and adult soccer, kickball, bocce, lacrosse, field hockey and flag football tournaments and, when no tournaments are scheduled, fairgoers will be able to play large-sized lawn games such as Connect Four, yard pond, hula hoops and more. The new Biker Appreciation Day offers free motorcycle parking and $1 admission for those with a valid motorcycle license. The Fair continues to offer more free and low-cost attendance days and promotions than any major fair in the nation.
Diversity will continue to be celebrated at the Fair. The Fair’s annual Pride Day celebration features a keynote address from Martin Davis, a participant in the Stonewall Riots that marked the beginning of a long fight to end laws discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. The Fair was the first state fair in the nation to hold an official Pride Day. Women’s Day at the Fair this year will celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will keynote the annual luncheon and the day will feature $1 admission for all women. Latino Village Weekend, a celebration of Latino music, food and culture, will expand to four days, August 30 to September 2, and move to a new home near the Youth Building. The music festival FunkFest will expand to two days at the New York Experience Stage. The new first day is called WorldBeat and will offer music from around the world, while the traditional FunkFest day focuses on classic soul, funk and R&B, highlighted by appearances from 70s and 80s hitmaking bands Raydio featuring Arnell Carmichael, and Lakeside featuring Capt. Mark Wood. The Fair’s main stage, Chevy Court, will host its first-ever Spanish-language performer, the Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Farruko.
Chevy Court and the Experience Stage make up the Chevrolet Music Festival, one of the best free music festivals at any fair in the nation. Performers scheduled for free shows on those stages include Bad Company, Lindsey Stirling, Midland, the Mavericks, Rick Springfield, Gavin DeGraw, Ice Cube and more. Full schedules can be found here.
Fair Director Troy Waffner said, “We are proud to kick off the 2019 Great New York State Fair and celebrate, for the 172nd year, all of the great things about New York—its innovation, its culture, its diversity and so much more. We continue to grow and get better and better every year, thanks to the Governor’s historic investment in the grounds. We look forward to another banner year with amazing concerts, food, entertainment and several new special events for our fairgoers that have definitely been worth waiting for!”
Assembly Member William B. Magnarelli added, “The State Fair is our region’s biggest summer event, and with Governor Cuomo’s support, it has become one of the largest and most successful in the country. Every summer the Fair showcases Central New York’s best foods and features. With new improvements in the works to make the Fair a more enjoyable and accessible festivity, the region can welcome even more fairgoers who will support our local businesses.”
In addition to new offerings, fairgoer favorites will continue to be available. Visitors can purchase their sporting licenses at the Department of Environmental Conservation’s aquarium building and see the freshwater fish of New York. Free fishing clinics will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on August 22 and 24 at the New York Experience Area pond area. Entry to the Fair on these two days is just $1 with a valid New York State sporting license. More details can be found here.
1.27 million people attended the Great New York State Fair in 2019, setting new records for attendance and raising the Fair to third among all state fairs in the nation as measured by industry publication Carnival Warehouse. Since the start of renovations efforts in 2015, Fair attendance is up 41 percent. Improvements to the fairgrounds, including the Expo Center, have also boosted the Fair’s year-round facilities rental business, with events other than the Fair attracting an estimated 1 million people in 2018 and the record is on pace to be broken in 2019.