You never know what you may see as you wander around the New York State Fair. State Fair Hound offers these examples.
With six days of the 2016 New York State Fair down and six to go, State Fair Hound offers these mid-point hits and misses.
Starting with the hits, Kiddieland—or as Wade Shows call it, Lil Partner Land—is fabulous. Don’t believe those complaints published in our illustrious daily newspaper, most of the area is wide and grassy, with pathways and shaded seating. If you don’t like gravel underfoot, it’s easily avoided. This is a four-star upgrade.
The extra space created at Chevy Court by eliminating vendors and relocating the Chevy exhibit space has made a significant difference. There appears to be more seating and there’s certainly more standing space. With the addition of a large projection screen—now there is one on each side of the stage—it’s a much better fan experience and a big step in the right direction.
Beautification of the Iroquois Village continues with more archways over entrances and stunning landscaping. It was already one of the most appealing spots on the grounds and it’s getting better every year.
As for the misses, campers can’t be happy with the gravelly ground under their RVs. But it’s just this year as grass will be in place next Fair.
It doesn’t seem like our Fair without a country act or two playing Chevy Court. You can usually count on country performers, at least the mature ones, to avoid embarrassing the Fair and infuriating fans with the kind of childish outburst unleashed by Kesha. Live Nation deserves boos for this inexplicable omission.
The new entrance gate near the Pan African Village adds convenience for folks entering from that side, but the nearby observation deck is a puzzler. The deck is sturdy enough, but there’s nothing to observe. All you can see of the Fairgrounds is the backs of some buildings, a few rooftops and some parking lots. Maybe there are some plans for the future, but for now, it seems like a waste of money.
Overall, it’s an unforgettable year at the Fair, worth a visit, even several visits.
If your Fair experience isn’t complete without watching the amazing and wacky antics of Hilby, your time has arrived. The self-proclaimed Skinny German Juggle Boy made his 2016 debut Monday afternoon, his full complement of wild tricks and playful patter in tow. Hilby’s act is unparalleled fun, the first time or the hundredth.
Look for him at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. in front of the Science and Industry Building.
Hungry visitors to the New York State Fair this season may find themselves searching for their favorite food stands as several of the most popular vendors have moved from traditional spots in the reconfiguration of the grounds. State Fair Hound recently reported that Gianelli is near its old spot, in a tent behind the Horticulture Building. Likewise, Tully’s isn’t far from last year’s location, but several others have moved a greater distance.
Several longtime restaurants are now part of a new strip along the roadway known as Broadway, a lengthy stretch of blacktop that runs alongside the new midway. There you can get your middle eastern favs from King David’s, wash down your sandwiches with a beer at the Shamrock (minus the green-on-top light), enjoy some fine cuisine at Whelan’s, boost your cholesterol at Fried Specialties or steal a taste of poultry at the Chicken Bandit. There are also two Pizza Fritte locations, one at essentially both ends of Broadway.
The Hound will have an updates on some new places to chow down in an upcoming post.
The din has returned to the Poultry Barn after an eerie, aviary quiet last Fair with birds banned to prevent disease transmission. The roosters are crowing, chickens clucking and ducks quacking again and it’s a joyful noise to be sure.
If you climb the stairs to the building’s second level you get to see more colorful fowl and to get a—you guessed it—bird’s-eye view of the feathered frenzy below.
For those who prefer their fowl in the wild, a few ducks were seen floating peacefully in the man-made pond near the racing stables. That area, not yet ready for visitors, will become the New York Experience next year.
“Right now, the reason it’s closed off is they’re putting in six inches of topsoil, Acting Director Troy Waffner explained. “Then they’re going to grass it. It won’t be done in time for this year. We’re still looking at how to program this for 2017. At the end of the day, it’s going to wind up being a festival grounds of one sort or another. We’re looking at the racing stables and making some kind of vendor space back there because the horses aren’t really in the front stables anymore, they’re in the back. So we’re taking the front stables and turning them into some sort of vendor space. We have a year to work on it.”
The Hound would be hard pressed to name a change at the New York State Fair that drew as passionate an outcry from patrons as moving the New York State Wine Court out of the colonnade area did in 2008. It’s back in its traditional spot between the Science and Industry Building and the Dairy Building for the third year now and proving to be a popular stop for oenophiles and Fair patrons looking for an adult treat.
The official title is the Taste NY Wine, Beer and Spirits Village and it’s a creative use of a unique space, using permanent stands and tents with seating nearby where visitors can match a meal with their vino. Some partiers enjoy grooving to the music from Chevy Court while quaffing their favorite beverage. What wine goes with deep-fried mac and cheese, anyway?
From the St. Lawrence to New York harbor, Lake Champlain to the Finger Lakes, the Empire State is rich in navigable waterways and an exhibit at this year’s New York State Fair reminds us that the Water is Great in New York State.
Weather sensing data is collected by a 7-foot buoy in the reflecting pool and displayed on a screen in a nearby tent. The buoy, on loan from the Great Lakes Research Consortium based at SUNY ESF, transmits air and water temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction and solar radiation. “It’s an example of the buoys that are across New York, the Great Lakes and actually and across the world,” said Dave White of the New York Sea Grant. “For boaters it can provide them what’s happening with wave and weather conditions on the site they’re going to boat.”
The Water is Great tent features displays on safe boating from visibility to emergency kits to lifejackets for people and pets. Visitors can score some decals to identify the owners of stray crafts and reflectors to add safety through visibility. “These decals are put on the paddle,” White explained. “Other boaters will be able to see the reflected light when they’re out of the water.”
Fairgoers can also catch occasional demonstrations of an underwater vehicle in the pond. “It has a little camera on a gyroscope in it and it’s on a tether cord so you can drop it in the water and drive it around and it gives you a video of wherever it goes,” said Greg Boyer Great Lakes of the Research Consortium and SUNY ESF. “We would use this to find shipwrecks, to search the bottom for lost objects, to inspect things where you would normally have to put a diver in the water.”
At this year’s New York State Fair, every cat will have its day, at least if it’s a lynx. Hawk Creek Wildlife Center is hosting demonstrations featuring three kinds of the felines, sometimes called bobcats or wildcats, daily at Noon, 2:30 and 4:30.
The 30-minute presentation takes place in a white tent tucked into the corner between the Horticulture Building and the International Pavilion, not far from the State Police exhibit. There you can meet Meisha, an African Serval, pictured at left, and Rena, a Eurasian Lynx. Kodiak, a Canada Lynx, represents a breed native to New York and the most familiar looking of the trio.
Staff tells their stories and gives a lot of background on the breeds, but the cats, which aren’t much larger than house cats, have to stay in their cages.
Three non-feline animals are also presented–Dakota, a gray fox, Ripper, a porcupine and Oz, a kudamundi. Hawk Creek, which has been hosting a birds of prey exhibit for the past few years, focuses on education and conservation, always showing fascinating animals that add entertainment and appreciation of our wildlife.
All presentations are free of charge.
Long-time Fairgoers are going to feel somewhat lost trying to negotiate the radically changed Fair landscape this year. You can check your map, but the best way to find your way is to orient to the buildings and barns that anchor the grounds. Chevy Court is largely unchanged and the animals still sleep in those same barns, so if you pay attention to those familiar landmarks–as well as the Grange Building, the Agriculture museum and the Youth Building–as you travel, you will always have an idea where you are.
The hardest thing may be finding some favorite vendors who are relocated. Gianelli, by the way, is close to its old location, now in a tent with an adjoining dining area under a canopy. State Fair Hound is on the trail of the other popular food vendors and treat peddlers and will report back on them of the new locations in upcoming posts.
You may have heard that the paved midway space has been expanded to 15 acres, but you have to see the massive new lot to believe it. Prepare yourself for the wow factor as you first approach the new area.
It now hosts 75 to 78 rides, more than ever erected for the New York State Fair, most on freshly-paved blacktop with more space between rides and more room for riders to wait in lines. Electrical cables are buried beneath the pavement, so you won’t be tripping over them and strollers and wheelchairs roll freely, although there are some areas with gravel underfoot. Storm drains will reduce flooding on rainy days.
Let’s not knock the old midway—there were so many exciting adventures there over the years. But the Strates Shows people and then the Wade Shows folks had to lay out their rides and games on a triangular parking lot that served the purpose, but was far from ideal. The new pad allows for so much more flexibility and creativity. It’s more like a year-round amusement park.
For some it may be too sterile, lacking in that old-school charm and retro appeal of the past. But more rides, wider walkways and a glitzier look will make most midway mavens very happy.
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