State Fair Hound

An independent view of the New York State Fair

Degrees of Attitude

When the wind chills Central New York air to -20, it’s hard to believe that less than six months ago we were sweltering at the New York State Fair. CC UMBRELLA CREW 15Remember the fiercely loyal fans waiting out show time at Chevy Court, using umbrellas as protection from the brutal sun?

Nearby Fair patrons sought out the misting stations to provide brief respite. MISTER-MAINGATE 15Notice the main gate in the background, that entry having recently been leveled in preparation for construction of a new, modernized gate.

Picture Perfect

Bet you’re still smiling when you think about all of the fun you had at the 2105 New York State Fair.

CHAR ARTIST 15

Mercury Blues

With the winter doldrums settled over Syracuse, FW KIDS 15

 

State Fair Hound invites you to enjoy these memories of last year’s Fair,  CC UMBRELLA CREW 15

 

one of the hottest on record.

 

Aisle Be Seeing You

The New York State Fair Grandstand will go out with a bang on Saturday as explosives will be used to collapse the site of so many memorable Fair concerts, the Syracuse Mile harness racing series GS WITH SUN 15and more than a few Super Dirt Weeks.

The gaping hole left in the Fair infrastructure will, no doubt, provide a stunning view for longtime Fair fans. The excitement of new construction will follow close behind as crews move in to transform the area for next year.

The layout plan released by the Fair indicates that the new RV park will take up most of the vacated ground, with the enlarged midway alongside. GS-RV FROM OT 15For those locals who complain that the Fair never changes, 2016 will be your year.

 

Countdown to a New Fair

As snow flurries pelt the Fairgrounds on this New Year’s Day, there may not be many people thinking about the Aug. 25 opening of the 2016 New York State Fair. MIDNIGHT 14But there’s going to be a lot of action over the next eight months, so true believers should be excited that this year at our favorite festival will be like none before it.

The clock has struck midnight for the soon-to-be-demolished Grandstand and track, and State officials are in the process of hiring a construction firm to renovate the main gate, GRANDSTAND 12-15expand the midway area and prepare the new, relocated RV park.

While State Fair Hound and all Fair aficionados always look ahead with anticipation, this year will be one for the history books and this winter will bring unprecedented activity during the Fair’s off-season.

 

Lovely Branches

Families who found the choices in Christmas tree shopping confusing should make a mental note to visit the New York State Christmas Tree Growers tent at next year’s New York State Fair. CHRISTMAS TREES 15There you’ll find live examples of various tree species and literature to help you figure out the qualities and characteristics of each type. Staff on hand offer expert advice.

It may be hard to get interested in Christmas in August and September, but you can use what you learn every December.

CHRISTMAS TREES2 15

Season’s greetings from State Fair Hound.

 

Midway Spin

We’re now just over three months since New York State Fair 2015 closed on Labor Day and the Fair’s website tells us that there are 260 days left until next year’s expo begins with the opening of a brand new main gate.

More exciting though, is the plan for a new midway. It will be larger with a different set-up location and modified orientation. More rides are in the plan, maybe some we haven’t seen here before. TOPS FROM OT 15Wade Shows’ midway—seen here in Nick LoPresti’s overhead shot–has been impressive in its first two years here, so it’s not too soon to feel exhilaration over prospects for the big redesign.

Poultry in Motion

The main course of many a Thanksgiving meal started out as a beautiful feathered creature, like this blue-ribbon winner BLUE-RIBBON TURKEY 14photographed by State Fair Hound photographer Nick LoPresti at the 2014 New York State Fair.

Be thankful that the Fair gives visitors, especially city folks, a chance to see Empire State livestock as live animals. Ironically, meat is widely eaten at the many Fair food stands. But the barns filled with beautiful animals may cause a few people to consider ethical questions concerning the meat industry.

Back Court

The New York State Fair’s ambitious plan to replace the Chevrolet Court stage includes building a new, larger stage and a two-story backstage building, moving the whole structure back and taking out the grassy area now behind it. OCT 15 023The relocation means more space in front for fans to gather.

Fair Acting Director Troy Waffner told State Fair Hound that even more viewer space will be created by reducing the roadways on adjoining the court by covering half the space with grass. The current projection is for enough area in front of the new, higher stage to accommodate up to 40,000 fans comfortably. That would be quite an accomplishment as you may recall that most of the estimated 36,900 fans present for the Sep. 6 Steve Miller Band concert were decidedly uncomfortable.

Thus, management of the crowds goes beyond creating space. To the end, the plan calls for walkways created within the court area and plenty of video projection screens for those far from the stage.

State Fair Hound wonders how much work can be done during the winter to get this project completed by Syracuse Nationals’ 2016 run. That’s another reason to hope for a mild winter.

Stand Down

A weekend visit to the Fairgrounds revealed that a trio of longstanding eateries behind the Horticulture Building have been demolished as renovations in that area begin. Davoili’s Trackside, Gianelli and the Shamrock are now a part of Fair history.

GIANELLI DEMOLISHED

DavoIi’s, one of the grounds’ larger stands, was known for a huge traditional menu, served morning until night. Gianelli has long been one of the most popular sausage stands, one sought out be hungry patrons as an every-year stop. The Shamrock, sporting a replica of Syracuse’s famous green-on-top traffic light, featured a festive atmosphere with a variety of cold beers and frequent live entertainment. All three benefited from their proximity to the Grandstand, serving concert and motorsports fans, both before and after events.

It’s understandable that the view of the now-vacant area will trigger some melancholy feelings from Fair regulars who will miss these venerable establishments. DAVOLI ROW 15

A second look, however, should lead to genuine optimism. Looking at the fence and track beyond, the area opens up and with it, the Fair’s exciting future. The promise of major improvements grows out of the departure of some old favorites, including these popular stands.

Fair Acting Director Troy Waffner revealed to State Fair Hound that he is working with the owners of the now-missing stands to relocate them to new spots from which they can continue to serve their loyal customers. All three joints had deteriorated over the years and would have required major renovation or replacement to continue.

Don’t expect new buildings, though. Waffner pointed out that building new stands that that meet requirements for functionality and durability is very expensive. Tents or other temporary construction are currently the more desired methods and one that has worked well for such regular vendors as Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Tully’s and the Butcher Boys while keeping the grounds versatile and flexible year round.

Meanwhile, the Fair continues to prepare the site for new structures, an expanded midway, improved RV facilities, landscaping and an equine center. SF2015-KC 9 and 10 044The Grandstand/infield area will have to be ready next summer for the return of Syracuse Nationals several weeks before the Fair. So will the new Chevy Court setup, which The Hound will address in an upcoming post.

If all goes according to plan, the tasty food and fun times, for which so many Fair vendors are famous, will be available, some relocated, while the restructuring of the grounds will make this the most exciting and dynamic New York State Fair in memory.

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