State Fair Hound

An independent view of the New York State Fair

Setting the Stage

A recent article on Syracuse.com revealed a surprising change in plans for this year’s New York State Fair. State Fair Hound confirmed with Fair spokesman Dave Bullard that organizers have decided that they won’t be replacing the Chevrolet Court stage FIREPLACES AND FAIRGROUNDS 036and backstage building as had been previously announced.

Last fall, Acting Director Troy Waffner had told State Fair Hound that a new, larger stage was coming in 2016 with a two-story backstage building that would provide nicer amenities for touring acts. As The Hound reported (Back Court, Nov. 12, 2015), the new stage structure would be moved back—that is, nearer to the main gate—to make more space in front for fans to gather.

While that may remain on the long term agenda, it’s off the to-do list for 2016. Widening of the grass area is still in the works as a way to make the area more hospitable to large crowds.

Bullard mentioned some other changes coming, among them freshening the exterior of several of the iconic buildings, HORT PORTRAIT 14including the fabulous façade of the Horticulture Building.

Parents will find a large square of rides for the youngest riders in a new location, behind the International Building. Bullard credits the mild winter just past with the massive project to renovate the Fair being ahead of schedule.GIRL KID RIDE 14

Home Court

More Chevrolet Court acts have been announced and State Fair Hound is looking forward to a steady stream as summer approaches. It should be obvious by now that Chevy acts are the Fair’s major shows as the Lakeview Amphitheater is an Onondaga County venue, not a New York State Fair venue.

The interplay between the two will be something to watch as loyal readers already know that the Hound expects well-attended lakeside shows to be more a detriment to the Fair itself than an advantage. ETHERIDGE BLUE GUITAR 15The Fair website doesn’t list amphitheater concerts and don’t expect Fair advertising to include those shows either.

Let’s face it, Cuomo really screwed this up. After years of Grandstand concerts providing a potential boost for the Fair and being marquee events in Fair promotion, that major draw is gone. The new venue should be on the Fairgrounds and a part of the sensational Fair experience. Of course, if his boneheaded blunder is a factor in Fair attendance not being high enough for Prince Andy, he’ll blame everybody but himself.

For here on out, State Fair Hound won’t be covering the Lakeview Amphitheater. CCOURT WITH CROWD 15It’s not the New York State Fair, thus not worthy of the attention of Fair aficionados. Acts already announced at the soon-to-be-renovated Chevy Court include Chicago, Herman’s Hermits, the Commodores and Culture Club and you should expect some really big name performers added to pack the re-designed courtyard.

With time growing short to complete that project, your Hound is watching with some anxiety, ready to report back to you as the Fairgrounds are updated. There’s much to do in the 20 weeks left before opening day.

Demolition Derby

Work continues on the Fairgrounds as demolition of the track and infield areas appears to be complete. As State Fair Hound reported earlier, the food stands that once lined the fence behind the NO TOWERInternational Pavilion and the Poultry Building, heading down to the midway staging area are gone. Also missing is the Times Square Tower, built not that long ago and the subject of a Hound post (Times Square A-changin’, Sep. 15, 2015) that is now rendered irrelevant.

TIMES SQUARE TOWER 15

The Hound will keep track of new developments and report on progress made toward the expansive upgrade of the grounds currently under construction.

LEVELED INFIn case you were wondering, all of the major buildings, the livestock barns and the Restaurant Row food stands are all intact with no plans announced to change that. The racing stables, visible beyond the flattened infield area in the photo at left, are also being preserved.

Debut Decision

Several acts have been announced for the new Chevy Court stage at this year’s New York State Fair while the awkward relationship with the Lakeview Amphitheater heats up as well.

Thus far, three concerts are booked at the new venue during the run of the Fair, starting on opening day with Keith Urban. AMPHI 1The talented Aussie played the Grandstand twice in recent years, proving himself a dynamic live performer and a fan favorite. But for potential concert patrons who love the Fair, this booking presents a dilemma.

Opening Day, 2016 will be like none other as the new midway, reworked campground and shuffling of food stand locations are among the intriguing changes being unveiled that day. State Fair Hound is aware that the Fair and Onondaga County, which owns the amphitheater, are working on plans to transport people from the Fairgrounds to the concerts and back. It’s a big change from the days of entering the grounds to enjoy the Fair and capping it off with a simple stroll to the Grandstand and it seems unlikely that most fans will do both in one day.

For The Hound, the choice is clear—be part of the historic day that unveils phase one of the Fairgrounds makeover and attend a show at Joanie’s Toxic Waste Bed Theater another day. INSIDE AMPHI 1For those who simply can’t forego seeing Urban, they can use their State Fair Ticket another day, even one less historic than Aug. 25, 2016.

Ground Zero

We’ve officially hit the halfway point between last year’s New York State Fair and this year’s Aug. 25 opening day. There’s always tremendous anticipation as news about the coming Fair starts to trickle out, the first Chevy Court announcement, having come with the naming of the classic soul band the Commodores as the headliners for Aug. 30.

As Fair fans know, this year is especially exciting as major construction is underway to make improvements on the grounds. FG CONSTR.1But before the bigger, state-of-the-art campground, the expanded, modernized midway and the automated, accessible main gate can be debuted, builders have to make a mess and that they have done. A recent visit to the grounds was somewhat stunning as demolition and excavation have rendered parts of our beloved Fairgrounds unrecognizable.

The entire infield and midway areas are leveled and fenced off. MAIN GATE CONSTR.Surprisingly, even the Lottery Pavilion, formerly the Paisano stand, is gone. So far, the Chevy Court stage building is still standing. Looking at these exclusive State Fair Hound photos, it’s hard to believe that the new stage, along with all of the other first-phase projects will be completed for Syracuse Nationals, now less than five months away.

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.

 

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