The gates of the 2017 New York State Fair are open! 13 days of excitement and fun await. Watch State Fair Hound for plenty of coverage starting opening day with photos of new features.
You may recall that last year Chevy Court attendance was somewhat disappointing, especially considering the blockbuster attendance numbers of the 12 days. One issue was surely the absence of country acts–always popular with Fair fans–on the bill. This year the only essentially country act booked is LeAnn Rimes, and even she is more Taylor Swift than Tammy Wynette.
It’s a shocking development for a Fair that most years went heavily down the country road, but Acting Director Troy Waffner says it’s not by design. “It’s been a difficult task and it’s not for lack of trying or throwing money,” he assured. “We have put in about a dozen offers. We had a fantastic country act that just pulled out before we announced it. We do get that complaint. Believe me, it’s not for lack of trying.”
While seeking diversity in the Chevy Court lineup is a goal Waffner sets, competition from other venues is a roadblock, having recently grown worse with the opening of the Del Lago casino. “There’s that 90-day exclusion,” Fair spokesman Dave Bullard explained. “We’re not booking Jason Aldean or Luke Bryan—we can’t afford them. But they’re taking two, sometimes three opening acts and those are the acts we would go after and you can’t touch them.”
With so many acts signing contracts that limit their local availability, the Fair, with only a 13-day window to sign them, has lost out on country in general. Thinking outside the barn has to be employed to get our Fair back in the good graces of country fans. Meanwhile, the Marshall Tucker Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd will have to be close enough.
Visitors can come home from the New York State Fair feeling exhausted after a day of pounding the blacktop, standing in food stand lines, shopping Center of Progress gadgets and focusing on entertainment from Chevy Court to the Iroquois Village. While it’s always been true that having too much fun at the Fair wears you out faster than running a marathon, it was never more true than last year. The cause, of course was the sparkling new, expanded layout of the grounds.
While the entire Fairgrounds didn’t get larger—it’s still the 375 acres it’s always been—many fans likely toured more of it than they had in previous years. The turf formerly occupied by the mile-long oval track and the massive acreage that had been the infield are now part of the center area. Back then, folks rarely made the trek across the track to the infield, despite the best efforts over the years of Fair planners, who tried many different attractions to utilize it. So, even though that area was part of the whole package, it was largely invisible to Fairgoers.
That’s no longer true. Last year the newly-enlarged midway and the Broadway area were crowded with people trekking across the just-opened vastness of that middle ground and enduring the blisters and perspiration that came with it. Thus, it’s really important to think ahead and prioritize your walking, recognizing that you can’t do it all in one day. Use the tram and take frequent breaks to avoid getting exhausted. You’ll have a much better Fair experience if you do.
If you can , go several times, planning ahead to maximize each visit by focusing on making a few stops each time at your favorite building, exhibit or entertainment venue. It’s more affordable than ever to get through the gate, so go two or three times rather than try to do too much in one visit. Your dogs will thanks you.
New York State Fair 2017 opens one month from today and advance sale tickets are on sale. There have been some changes, unfortunately, that will make the purchase of tickets and pre-paid ride cards trickier and more expensive for some customers.
Some advance admission and ride purchases are available online only and guess what—online purchases carry additional fees. Thus buyers save less than advertised and certainly less than in previous years.
Fortunately some tickets are still available at local retail outlets as in past years, which adds convenience and saves money. All of the buying options are outlined on the Fair website, nysfair.ny.gov.
One disappointing caveat revealed on the website is that flights on the midway’s new Sky Ride won’t be covered under the ride-all-day bracelet deal.