State Fair Hound

An independent view of the New York State Fair

Category: Focus on the future (Page 1 of 3)

Digging It

The New York State Fair isn’t wasting any time preparing for next year. Ground has been broken for two highly anticipated projects, continuing the expansion and improvement of the Expo Center. MW CONSTR. 17Inside the grounds, space is being cleared for  the new exhibition building. It’s going up just past the western terminus of the Broadway Sky Liner.

Meanwhile, excavation of the Orange parking lot can be seen just off the Camillus Bypass. It’s scheduled to be paved and reorganized by next Fair (Orange and Blacktop, Oct. 17, 2o17).

Orange and Blacktop

The state has released the plan for renovation of the New York State Fair orange parking lot, the massive prairie that lies between I-690 and Onondaga Lake. The $27 million dollar upgrade plan calls for paving the entire lot, which is also used for concerts at the Lakeview Amphitheater. BUS TO ORANGE

As you’ve read previously on State Fair hound, a paved, lined version of the Big Orange not only makes it a smoother parking experience for motorists, it helps reduce congestion on the interstate by getting cars off the highway and into spaces quicker. Improved access ramps to and from the 65-acre lot are also in the works.

Additionally, the Fair estimates that thousands more cars will fit thanks to the organization that comes with a white-line grid, while better drainage will prevent loss of space to ponding of rainwater on the surface. Better lighting will be added, increasing the odds you can actually find your vehicle after a day on the grounds.

There’s an impressive rendering of the finished project on the Fair website,, under “press center.”

Coming Attractions

Projects at the New York State Fairgrounds are underway in several spots. The upgrade of the historic Iroquois Village continues as a new stage is being built for the traditional dancing performances. IV STAGE



On the midway, concrete foundation footers are being installed to accommodate the debut of the Sky Liner ride, MIDWAY CONSTR. 17a ski lift-type line carrying seated riders above the entire length of the lot.

Meanwhile, one thing that won’t change is the location of the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que stand, which will continue to anchor its corner of the Chevy Court square.

Three-Month Bustle

With about three months to go to New York State Fair opening day 2017, work continues at several spots on the grounds. Here are some sights from a recent visit.

The State Police exhibit is moving to a new location behind the Horticulture Building.

The State Police exhibit is moving to a new location behind the Horticulture Building.







Grass is growing on the RV park, fulfilling a promise to replace the gravel ground cover.

Grass is growing on the RV park, fulfilling a promise to replace the gravel ground cover.







Classy brick sidewalks will lead to the entrances to the Art and Home Center.

Classy brick sidewalks will lead to the entrances to the Art and Home Center.


Air Lift

The shameful changes in our nation’s capital make our own governor look better by comparison and fans of the New York State Fair have to cheer his latest proposal to spend another $70 million for upgrades. MEDIAN 16The highlight of his plan is a gondola–the kind used at ski centers, not the kind used in Venice–to allow patrons to soar over streets and parking lots to go from the grounds to the amphitheater and back.

Another big idea is to build a new on-ramp to I-690 from the parking areas. Not only does State Fair Hound endorse these proposals, both were essentially suggested in earlier Hound posts (Bumper to Bumper to Bumper Cars, 9-8-16 and Travel Channel, 9/26/16).

Does the Gov peruse State Fair Hound for ideas? Not likely. Besides that, these aren’t particularly fresh proposals. In fact, then-Director Peter Cappuccilli, Jr. proposed an airborne transportation system for the Fair as far back as 2004. His dream was a bit more grandiose, with a monorail circling the grounds and even extending to off-site stops such as that infamous shopping mall across the lake.

As acts are booked for the second season at the amp, AMP 2 15State Fair Hound pledges this will be the last time (OK, probably the last time) to remind you that this wouldn’t be necessary if the new stage had been built on the Fairgrounds instead of in its current toxic waste bed site.

That aside, Andy’s plan could go a long way toward smoother, less congested traffic flow and we certainly need that. Not to mention, that gondola sounds like a fun ride.

Countdown Photo–36 Weeks

Will there be changes at Chevy Court for 2017? State Fair Hound will be sniffing out the answer.

Will there be changes at Chevy Court for 2017? State Fair Hound will be sniffing out the answer.

Structured Settlement

Though there may be improvements in available transportation, as suggested in State Fair Hound’s Sep. 26 post, Travel Channel, many people will continue to walk the middle section of the Fair, where the midway runs along between Broadway on one side and the RV park on the other. The addition of more oases with shade, seating and amenities is needed and The Hound has a suggestion. Most of the rest stops this year were tables with umbrellas, which is fine as far as it goes. bw-with-tables-16Bigger, sturdier structures would be a good idea, not only for the protection and comfort they provide, but to give that area a classier, neighborhood look.

Picture wooden pavilions like those in state park picnic grounds, covering tables along with snack or drink vendors and possibly some entertainment. Maybe some clever designer could make them easily assembled and removed to maintain the flexibility that the Fair cherishes.


That same concept may be a good idea for some the food vendors who occupied tents this year. Sure, they can do business under a canopy, but rows of tents give the feel of a second-rate county fair. r-row-16Sandwiched between the high-tech midway rides and the lovely permanent buildings, they just looked a little shabby. The Hound wouldn’t be against the idea of building permanent stands, two or three under one roof, as modeled on Restaurant Row. It’s very expensive, but may be worth some money, especially if helps to keep established vendors who are willing to make long-term investments in their annual businesses.


Travel Channel

About a month after opening day, there’s still plenty of buzz about the massive changes unveiled at the New York State Fair. State Fair Hound has been talking to readers and friends and the expanded and modernized midway area gets high grades for the wide walkways, more rides and updated amenities. look-up-bw-16It also garnered criticism from patrons who found the longer walks daunting, especially since there was too little shade available, not enough seating and a perceived loss of charm and character as demolished stands were replaced with tents.

Keeping in mind that the Fair is far from finished making changes, this is the time to start brainstorming ideas for improvements. The Hound starts today looking at ways to traverse the wider open spaces.

For fans covering a greater distance between attractions–and that’s a lot of folks—additional transportation is the obvious answer and there don’t seem to be a lot of choices. Acting Director Troy Waffner told The Hound that more use of trams is under consideration, so that’s one idea. They would need to be free and quick to board and exit. Smaller vehicles (Remember those trolleys they used to have running around downtown Syracuse?)would be great for quick, relatively short trips up and down Broadway. Yeah, they cost money, so maybe they can be a contracted service from some limo company.

The western end, down toward the 4H riding rings, the Talent Showcase and the racing stables, was a largely open area this year mw-across-field-16that’s destined for more attractions next time around. With more visitors likely heading there, this will be a growing concern. The dream solution is installation of a monorail system, such as the one used at Disney World. The astronomical expense of doing that means it must remain a dream, certainly for now.

Countdown Photo–49 Weeks

Workers put the finishing touches on the menu at Fried Specialties.

Workers post the prices on the menu at Fried Specialties.

As State Fair Hound continues to review and critique the 2016 New York State Fair, we launch a new feature, counting down to Aug. 24, 2017, opening day of next year’s Fair. Each week The Hound will publish a photo from the hundreds of pics shot this year as we march toward another landmark event.

Today’s shot was taken on opening day as one famous food vendor put the finishing touches on its stand.

Building Momentum

Most visitors are so focused on enjoying the world of entertainment on display at the New York State Fair that they may not notice that the regal buildings providing a foundation for this fabulous festival have been spruced up. Acting Director Troy Waffner gave State Fair Hound the scoop on the updated buildings.

“At the Center if Progress building, we made the south wing of it, which goes into the restaurant, ADA (American with Disabilities Act) compatible,” Waffner explained. “We replaced the south entrance of the Center of Progress EAVES 15because it was deteriorating. We put in a new ramp there.

We uncovered the old, brick steps on the Dairy Products building and restored them. We did some work on the International Building. The cornice pieces were deteriorating. We replaced those. We brought in a masonry company that specializes in historic masonry and they’ve cleaned the buildings ACROSS TO BLDGS 15so it gives us a really good sense of what’s underneath some of the dirt, where they need to be repointed, whether the seams need to be redone. The plan is to continue that.

The Art and Home Center is an ongoing project. We got the slate roof replaced with another slate roof. We also replaced the main columns on because they were deteriorating. We also washed the art deco tile around the Horticulture. It was repaired where needed. It was actually in very good shape.”

As terrific as the grounds look with the middle opened up, HORT PORTRAIT 14expanding the midway and RV park areas, it’s the century-old buildings than make the New York State Fairgrounds special. “When you walk in you get that sense of the history of the fair,” Waffner said. “It’s what sets us apart from a lot of other fairs. When you go to the Arizona State Fair, they’re really like post-World War II tin buildings. But you come here and you’ve got these gorgeous old buildings.”

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