State Fair Hound

An independent view of the New York State Fair

Month: August 2017 (Page 1 of 3)

Postcards From New York

The I Love New York Tourism folks have taken over the main gate-adjacent wing of the Center of Progress with a novel and whimsical photo set. Really, there are four sets, NY PHOTO POSE 17each featuring scenery from a famous Empire State locale to serve as a backdrop for visitors to take a shot of friends and family posers. You can choose a canoe trip, a fishing expedition, a mountain peak or a race track–or maybe all four. The realistic murals and 3-D props will make convincing pictures to take home as a Fair souvenir. There’s no charge and photographers who post their pics at #NYStateFairSelfie may see them on the big screen at Chevy Court.


One of the most photographed locales on the grounds of the new York State Fair is the reflecting pool in front of the Horticulture Building. Night and day, the shimmering water, landscaped perimeter and magnificent, tiled archway combine to make for some beautiful portraits, HORT NIGHT NP 14like this one by State Fair Hound photographer Nick LoPresti.

The Hound has theorized that a makeover of the area could be done that would increase the beauty of that grassy courtyard, replacing the pond with a smaller, more artistic fountain with fancy brickwork and colored spotlights. An auxiliary benefit would be more space for exhibits or picnic tables.

Maybe someday. For now, the pond is a relaxing and pretty spot surrounded by graceful trees. It’s especially nice if you can grab a bench during a quiet time. It can serve as a reminder that our Fair can be enjoyed for something other than excitement, bustle and thrills.


Goat For Broke

Cows aren’t the only animals milked at the New York State Fair. Dairy goats have their own spot in the livestock barn they share with pigs and llamas. GOAT MILKING 17Goats are milked in a glass enclosure with signage to educate the public on the industry and products.

These guys are darn cute too. It’s fun to see them standing on hind legs to peer out from their pens or munching their feed.

If you’re feeling daring, you probably can get away GOAT CLOSE 17with petting a head or two. Judging takes place in neighboring pens.

Big Times

Layout changes to the New York State Fair over the past two years has opened up space to stage a wide variety of entertainment. The area dubbed Times Square–basically between the animal barns and the midway–has become a prime spot for family acts.

The Waterbark dog act shows off the talent of a bevy of adorable canines.

The Waterbark dog act shows off the talent of a bevy of adorable canines.

An artist known as Arcy is midway through creation of a massive New York-themed mural.

An artist known as Arcy is midway through creation of a massive New York-themed mural.


A chainsaw carver chews logs into realistic animal figures.

A chainsaw carver chews logs into realistic animal figures.


Convenience in Store

If Mom left her purse home or Dad forgot to check his list before loading the kids into the car, your day at the Fair doesn’t have to be ruined. You can find sunscreen, , bug spray, ponchos, medicine, batteries and all of the indispensable items you may need to avoid disaster and keep the fun flowing by stopping at Fair Essentials, ESSENTIALS 17a business started in 2011 by two Baldwinsville men.

Their wooden shack displays a large sign to introduce their general store where they sell “Everything convenient, everything essential, Fair Essentials.” This year you can find them at the western end of Broadway, not far from the Cow Birthing Center.

A complete list of items and prices is posted on the stand, allowing notoriously cautious fairgoers to feel comfortable choosing what they need. The General Store is coincidentally located right next to an ATM. Now in their seventh year, these guys are the vendors most likely to save the day.

Sweet Dreams

The sweet velvet of maple syrup, one of Empire State’s favorite products does a booming business annually from its prime location in the Horticulture Building. Rightly so, MAPLE STAND 17as the New York is the second largest maple-producing state in the US, following a tradition that dates back to the first maple sap gatherers, Native Americans.

New York Maple Producers’ massive stand occupies 1200 square feet where more than two dozen consignors display an inspired variety of products to satisfy rabid maple lovers. Maple sugar, candy, granola, popcorn, cotton candy, coated peanuts or cashews, spreads, creams and flavored coffee all occupy shelf space.

Maple ice cream has proven a strong seller from its corner counter with soft serve cones or bowls, milkshakes, slushies and snow cones. Every year there are free samples handed out to acquaint passers-by with what’s new. SYRUP 17Containers of syrup ranging from 3-ounce bottles to gallon jugs, glass or plastic, including decorative bottles that make better gifts than the tacky trinkets sold on the midway.

In addition to the economic boost from sales to Fairgoers, maple producers compete for bragging rights by entering their products for judging. A glass trophy case displays winners of ribbons in State Fair competition for syrup, candy, creams, condiments and treats.

Floating History

A tent next to the new Empire Experience pond features a replica of the gunboat USS Philadelphia that carried General Benedict Arnold and his Continental Army troops in 1776 during the Revolutionary War. GUNBOATThe original Philadelphia, the oldest surviving American fighting naval vessel, was discovered in Lake Champlain in 1935 and is now housed at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

The 15-foot long replica was assembled onsite opening day by a team led by Erich Tichonuk, co-executive director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT.

Throughout the Fair, the exhibit will include the completed Philadelphia replica, daily wooden boat building demonstrations, PHILLY 17a shipwreck display and educational boating exhibits. The Great Lakes Research Consortium 24-7 sensing buoy will transmit data from an in-water remotely operated vehicle floating in pond.

The free exhibit opens daily at 10 am.



The classic complaint that the Fair is the same every year has surely been put to rest over the past couple of Fairs. State Fair Hound has spotted some terrific new features to pass along.

A wooden deck has been added to the back side of the Agriculture Museum, adding beauty and making it accessible from both sides.

A wooden deck has been built onto the back side of the Agriculture Museum, adding beauty and making it accessible from both sides.

These gorgeous pups have served as goodwill ambassadors for the State Police.

These gorgeous pups are serving as goodwill ambassadors for the State Police.


Hawk Creek Wildlife Center brought a new guest star this year. This handsome tortoise can be seen sunning in the yard next to the birds' tent.

Hawk Creek Wildlife Center brought a new guest star this year. This handsome tortoise can be seen sunning in the yard next to the birds’ tent.

Home Cooking

You can look at any food stand or structure at the New York State Fair as a restaurant. If the definition is a business that serves food, they all qualify, at least loosely. But the way The Hound sees it, the Iroquois Cookhouse comes closest to a true restaurant, COOKHOUSE EXT 17not only because it an actual building devoted to cooking, serving and eating, but also for its variety and flexibility.

For starters, they serve three meals a day, opening early with one of the best breakfasts on the grounds. For lunch and dinner, the menu changes from day to day, featuring one or two daily specials from spaghetti to roast turkey. Many different sides and desserts, some homemade, complete the meal experience.

One thing that’s especially inviting is the flexibility the Iroquois cooks offer. They take requests where possible, customizing or modifying the featured dishes to satisfy customer appetites. Plus, they keep it affordable.

There is plenty of indoor seating, while the deck, screened porch and nearby picnic tables offer pleasant choices for eating alfresco. COOKHOUSE INT 17 (1)For diners who are moved by the spirit of the festive surroundings, several traditional native items are served. One, a favorite of State Fair PR guy Dave Bullard, is Haudenosaunee fry bread, the forerunner of modern fried dough. Stop by, you don’t need a reservation.


New Experience

The Empire Experience area debuts this year between the midway and the racing stables. It a massive grassy spot with a large, technically efficient stage where three free shows will perform daily, featuring many tribute bands plus local favorites the Ripcords, Ruby Shooz and Fritz’s Polka Band. EE STAGE 17The complete schedule is on the Fair website,

The focal point is a human-made pond that is being used for various exhibits and activities, including a day of fishing. There’s a tiki bar at water’s edge and exhibit tents with vendors nearby as curious Fair patrons take their initial tour.

Fairgoers seem to be slow in discovering this vast new territory as it’s been lightly attended thus far. TIKI BAR 17This is to be expected as the expanded Fairgrounds has so much new to explore. But it certainly adds an exciting dimension with tremendous potential for future exhibits and entertainment.

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