State Fair Hound

An independent view of the New York State Fair

Month: October 2015

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.


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.

Andes Dandies


One of the Fairgrounds’ best fall events comes up this Friday through Sunday with the Empire Alpaca Extravaganza in the Dairy Cattle Building. There will be dozens of alpaca pens offering plenty of close-up looks and a few petting opportunities, although these adorable llama cousins tend to be shy around strangers.

The center rings hosts judging events and special events showing off the featured animals, graceful South America natives. ALPACAS 14

A dozen or so vendors will also be on hand with clothing made from alpaca wool, considered among the finest and warmest fibers available. It’s a low-key, but endearing event with free admission and parking.

For more information, see the organization website,


Sunset Strip

With Super Dirt Week having taken its final checkered flag at the Fairgrounds track, the sun is now setting over the Grandstand. SUNSET OVER GRANDSTAND 15The new possibilities and boundless potential that will be created with demolition of the century-old racetrack and the concrete-and-steel stadium must now overtake the sense of loss of the historic facility.

It’s understandable that racing fans are disappointed that their beloved one-mile dirt oval will fade into history. But it came down to the making a decision to use that area for more than Dirt Week and a couple of Fair events. For some fans it’s a tragic loss. For the New York State Fair, it’s a new chapter.

Shoppers’ Fair

You don’t have to log onto a massive internet shopping site or call the number from an infomercial to find unusual items for sale. The 2015 New York State Fair had plenty of them. There were toy items, such as the monkey-on-a-bike TOY VENDOR 15being demonstrated by a vendor and the DRONE 15small drone hovering overhead in the Center of Progress.











Among the more artistic items were wooden animals, carved with a chainsaw.TOTEM 15



Many varieties of home-baked dog treats were being hawked in the Horticulture Building. Something called Scum Off actually sold out before Labor Day, but it probably wouldn’t have been a very appealing photo anyway.


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