The Great New York State Fair Rises to One of the Top Ten Fairs and Festivals In North America in New Ranking

Following Three Years of Rapid Growth, Fueled by Record Investments, the Fair Now Ranks Third Among All State Fairs

Investment Complements “CNY Rising” – The Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

The Great New York State Fair, for the first time, has risen into the top ten rankings among major fairs tracked by the industry publication Carnival Warehouse. The Fair’s 2018 attendance of 1,279,010, an all-time record for the nation’s oldest state fair, pushed it to ninth place among the top 50 fairs by attendance, which includes state fairs, county fairs, and large livestock shows and rodeos in the United States and Canada. This is up from each of the last two years, when the Fair ranked 13th. The Fair ranked third among all state fairs for the second straight year. As recently as 2013, the Fair ranked 11th among all state fairs and 23rd among all fairs on the Carnival Warehouse list. This is the highest ranking for the Fair in the 13-year history of the Carnival Warehouse survey.

State Fair Entry part of $140 million invested, including post 2015 upgrades.

“We’re proud of the growth that has happened here, between Governor Cuomo’s investments in our facilities and our non-stop efforts to keep our programming exciting and new. We’re building something special here and we’re making the Great New York State Fair greater year after year,” said Troy Waffner, Fair Director.

The Great New York State Fair is third behind only Texas and Minnesota for total attendance among state fairs, with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Eastern States Exposition (a private, multi-state fair), the Canadian National Exposition and the county fairs of Orange and San Diego counties of California coming in above the Fair overall. Two other New York State fairs made the rankings: the Erie County Fair, in 13th place and the Dutchess County Fair, in 49th place.

Exposition Center

The Fair has seen record investments and significant improvements over the last few years, leading to the increase in attendance.  Programming innovation began in 2014 with the appointment of Waffner as Acting Director. Massive facilities changes began after the 2015 Fair with the first infusion of more than $120 million from New York State that allowed the removal of non-performing facilities and the construction of areas and structures that improved revenue and attendance, such as the brand new, state of the art Exposition Center. Attendance at the Fair has grown more than 40% in the three years since the renovations, programming and marketing improvements began.

Accelerating CNY Rising

Today’s announcement complements “Central NY Rising,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $5.6 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Central NY Rising with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs. More information is available here.

Historic Gate from the NYS Fair’s past

Founded in 1841, the Great New York State Fair is America’s third largest state fair. The fair showcases the best of New York agriculture and provides top-quality entertainment. The 2019 Fair runs from August 21 to September 2. Information about the Fair can be found here.

The New York State Fairgrounds is a 375-acre exhibit and entertainment complex that operates all year. A year-round schedule of events is available here. Find the Great New York State Fair on Facebook, follow @NYSFair on Twitter, on Snapchat at nysfair and enjoy photos from the Fair on Flickr. Also, New Yorkers are invited to send their ideas for the Great New York State Fair at

CHART: Fair attendance and rank in Carnival Warehouse Top 50, by year:


Year Attendance Top 50 Rank
2018     1,279,010 9
2017     1,161,912 13
2016     1,117,630 13
2015         908,147 20
2014         965,147 20
2013         851,157 23
2012         845,595 22
2011         917,464 18
2010         999,845 17
2009         971,273 15
2008         927,871 15
2007         936,399 17
2006         932,837 19


Editors Note: The New York State Fair reached record attendance for the first time. 1, 011,248 in 2001 as reported in the Syracuse Post-Standard September 4th 2001