State Fair Hound

An independent view of the New York State Fair

Month: January 2015

Pot O’ Gold

The Governor included in his budget proposal, released Wednesday, $50 million for our New York State Fair. Of course, budgets are always subject to negotiation and legislative approval, but wouldn’t it be great to see our Fair get such a huge financial boost? We at State Fair Hound are already dreaming up ways to spend the money.

Replacement of the Main gate is already on the agenda, but where to go from there? Improvements to Chevy Court could be a big ticket item that pays off in the long run, creating a better experience for fans of that terrific free concert series.

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During this past Fair we mentioned the deterioration of the Horticulture Building’s beautiful masonry and tiles as an urgent need that falls under the heading of infrastructure.

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Even $50 million isn’t a tremendous sum of money when it comes to major improvements, some of which may not be crowd-pleasing , readily- noticeable upgrades. Things like roofing, insulation, electrical work, drainage systems and tightened security could be money well spent. Then there’s parking lots and traffic-related improvements.

It surely doesn’t stop there, but when you’re dealing with a 375 acre property, there are a lot of decisions to made. As we said, the money is by no means a sure thing at this point, but we’ve got to think that Acting Director Troy Waffner and the Fair staff have a wish list to work from. Let’s hope they get the support they deserve to make our Fair better.

Gateway to Excitement

Today we start our winter review of some of the recent newsworthy developments of the past few weeks, beginning with one about which we’re really excited.


An intriguing piece in the Dec. 21 Post-Standard reports that those entering the New York State Fair through the main gate will be greeted by an entirely new entrance. The write-up doesn’t give details, but we’ll try to get some for you.

The current gate is really nothing more than a span of roofing above chain link fencing and turnstiles. There’s nothing wrong with that, but those of us who remember its predecessor know that it can be more elaborate, attractive and memorable, especially considering that it’s a focal point of the grounds.

If you’re lucky enough to have a copy of Henry W. Schramm’s 1985 book Empire Showcase, A History of the New York State Fair, there’s a photo on page 120 of the glorious gate that was in use in 1948. We’re not sure how long that one lasted, but the ornate wrought iron fencing and handsome masonry columns may provide some inspiration for the new design. In any event, planners should try to pick up on the theme of the architecture of the nearby buildings.

The above photo by Nick LoPresti shows the replica of an early carriage gate created for the State Fair history display in the Grange Building.

Catching Up, Looking Ahead

The past few weeks have been the quiet time of year for our Fair and the Hound has been likewise inactive. But there have been a few splashes of news recently, so it seems like time to take a look at the developments.

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Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll get caught up with our exclusive and independent analysis of items including a decisions on the lakeside amphitheater, a new hire in management, more accolades for the Fair’s performance and improvement, the first Grandstand booking, more infrastructure upgrades to come and other changes on the way for 2015.

Please check back soon and join us as we start to gain momentum toward another great New York State Fair.

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