State Fair Hound

An independent view of the New York State Fair

Category: Hound’s view (Page 1 of 2)

Lake Boo

Recent news reports provide the proverbial good news and bad news as regards use of the mistake-by-the-lake amphitheater during the 2017 New York State Fair.

Earlier plans had pointed toward completion of the paving of the so-called orange lot in time for this year’s opening day, but that’s not happening. AMP BOX OFFICE 15New blacktop should be lined and ready for the 2018 Fair, but for this year it’s the same old dusty surface we’ve come to love. That change should help improve conditions for everyone parking there, though it’s merely a small step toward real relief.

It appears that Fair patrons will be sharing that lot with amphitheater concert fans exactly twice, Aug. 25 and Aug. 26. Thus there are two consecutive evenings that will likely be more painful than usual to make the drive in for the Fair. That’s half as many as last year, but still two too many, especially since The Hound hasn’t heard anything in the way of planning that should mitigate the traffic jams and parking headaches that occurred last year.

Undaunted, the County Exec has demonstrated a sense of humor about the situation. The Post-Standard quoted her as saying that “When we’re done, we will be the most easily accessed (Amphitheater)” in the state. That kind of recklessly grandiose prediction suggests that Joanie is following the lead of the king of boastful BS, the arrogant sleezeball who has promised to make America great again.

Since this website is about the New York State Fair, let’s just breathe a sigh of relief that only two of our upcoming 13 days will be bring the frustration and challenges of dueling venues. It’s something to keep in mind when planning your visit.

 

 

 

Countdown Photo–12 Weeks

The sun setting over the midway creates some gorgeous sights.

The sun setting over the midway creates some gorgeous sights.

Turning the Corner

With opening day of the 2017 New York State Fair less than 26 weeks away, brace yourself for the sprint to get ready. The improvements announced recently  will require a lot of work, beginning as soon as spring weather breaks out.

The plan to install a gondola-type lift to allow patrons to soar from the upper parking areas into the grounds is getting the most attention. PKG. LOT TUBA 16But if you are still steaming over the traffic mess that occurred several times last year, the sky ride isn’t the solution. It doesn’t move enough people per hour to make a big difference.

That’s not to say that there hasn’t been a plan announced to improve the situation for those driving in for a day at the Fair. The real good news is the plan to pave the orange lot. Not only will it eliminate the twin demons of mud holes and dust clouds, we’re told it will be lined to allow for maximum capacity. Plus the loss of several hundred parking space in wet weather a due to ponding in the lot will be a bad memory.

The best way to reduce congestion on the highways is to get cars into lots as quickly as possible and a newly-paved lot with defined spaces will help immensely.

It’s not enough to solve all of the traffic problems, but it’s a start.

 

Top That

Looking back at the unprecedented attendance numbers for the 2016 New York State Fair, several questions come to mind. First, why did so many people attend this year as compared to previous Fairs. 1,117,630 didn’t just break the overall record, it crushed it. view-from-col-16And there were three days when the daily attendance record also fell.

More important, what’s coming next year? Can this year’s robust response to the opening of the gates be duplicated in 2017 and in years to come? Is it reasonable to expect attendance to exceed a million visitors every Fair?

To answer those questions, first you have to look at how satisfying an experience Fair patrons had this year. It seems logical to expect people to return if they had a good time.

Certainly the big renovations sparked a lot of interest and made people want to come out to see what it looked like. The changes were widely praised and more big updates are coming, including an equine center and a large grassy space dedicated to outdoor life in New York. The Hound predicts there will be a lot of interest in these new features.

Ride enthusiasts found a lot to like on our largest-ever midway and that will continue to be a strength. genesis-16That aside, there weren’t a lot of awe-inspiring acts or attractions to bring people in, though the Paw Patrol exhibit was a phenomenon. You can bet that will return if the Fair can book it.

More gate buster exhibits would be great, especially if they fit the Empire State theme with traveling displays from the Baseball Hall of Fame, Corning Glass, the Seneca Falls Women’s History Museum, Saratoga Race Track, the Clayton Antique Boat Museum, the Woodstock Museum and so many more.

The Fair has hit upon a solid strategy with numerous popular promotions that made reduced-price admission available on several days. Finally, the weather was terrific, almost no rain and little hot weather. People who stayed home to avoid the steamy temperatures of 2015 made up for it by heading out in droves.

That led to unforeseen problems with traffic that will certainly get plenty of attention over the winter and rightly so.  (Bumper to Bumper Cars Sep. 8, 2016)

Paradoxically, attendance of concerts at Chevrolet Court dropped a little in the Fair’s busiest year in history. That says something about the acts staged. Live Nation should be fired from booking Chevy Court. c-court-side-view-16The only explanation for a drop in concert attendance when over a million people crowded the grounds is that the acts booked lacked adequate appeal.

There were complaints about favorite food stands that were moved to less desirable spots. That’s a work in progress. It’s fixable. State Fair Hound would like to see some creative thinking here. Maybe a food court type of thing, with a picnic area ringed by popular vendors.

Whatever other complaints there may be, there doesn’t seem to be anything holding the Fair back from more blockbuster turnouts. But there’s no place for complacency. One tremendous year doesn’t assure continued success.

Dollar Dazed and Confused

Some thrill seekers must have been disappointed on Labor Day at the New York State Fair closed-stampede-16as several rides were closed, at least for part of the day. When The Hound was on the midway, the Stampede, the Hang Glider and the Pirate weren’t running. To make matters worse, that day all rides were just a buck. It’s not such a bargain when you can’t get dizzy on the machine of your choice.

Patrons have a right to expect Wade Shows to make all of the rides available when they’re touting Labor Day as Dollar Day, enticing fans to hit the midway in large numbers.

 

State Fair Hound didn’t hear many complaints about the midway, closed-cliffhanger-16and that’s great. But this one is a legitimate concern.

The Empire State Strikes Back

The post-game talk and ruminations continue following the record-smashing 2016 New York State Fair. Opinions, in this case, are somewhat like fried dough in that everybody has one.

There have been complaints from drivers caught in traffic, (Bumper-to-Bumper Cars, Sep. 8, 2016) vendors with sagging sales, patrons who couldn’t find their favorite features and country music fans who felt snubbed. main-gate-walkers-16

OK, there were issues. There’s plenty of time to work on them. But the first point to make is that this State Fair, the first ever to average more than 90,000 people per day, was an unmitigated success. The final attendance total, a stunning 1,117,630, is all the evidence needed. As much as the Fair is about fun, it’s primarily a business and there’s no doubt, a lot of people made a lot of money.

Incredibly, it can get even bigger. Consider, for example, the western end of the grounds, where there was what one State Fair Hound reader called “the great open nothingness.” Plans for use of the space out past the barns, near the racing stables, aren’t firm, but that opportunity is truly exciting in terms of potential use. riding-blue-elephant-16

Acting Director Troy Waffner has offered a glimpse into what may be coming, as have long-range ideas advanced by the Governor. The key has to be to make things fit together. More attractions down there mean more patrons, thus more opportunity for restaurants and other vendors. Remember, the Paw Patrol show was placed in that area and drew enormous throngs, so we know that if they build it, people will come.

Some critics have looked at what didn’t work so well in totally negative terms, as racing fans did with demolition of the Grandstand and track. But this year represents more progress and exciting prospects than anything else. Doubters need only take another look at that number–1,117,630.

Bumper to Bumper Cars

It seems logical that before the traffic flow problems that plagued the 2016 New York State Fair can be remedied, there has to be an analysis of what caused them. Sure, it’s too many cars headed to the same places at the same time. It was especially horrific on Sep. 2, the day of the Florida-Georgia Line concert at the amphitheater, as concert fans headed for the orange lot at the same time fairgoers poured into the area to enjoy a lovely Friday afternoon on the grounds.

Fair officials and television commercials heavily lobbied for the use of Centro’s park-and-ride system, orange-lot-bus-16suggesting that people heading for Geddes would have an easier trip if they bussed in from lots in Camillus, Dewitt, downtown, Long Branch Park and other spots. But many reports suggested that mobs of concert fans and Fair patrons stood in long lines and found their own headaches using that system.

Meanwhile, as parking lots neared capacity and entrance ramps were occasionally closed, traffic was diverted or stalled altogether.

Apparent causes of the traffic issues include:

Fewer parking spaces due to reconfiguration of the Fairgrounds.

Not enough driveways into and out of lots, especially when entrances were closed.

Amphitheater shows adding to congestion as more people converged on the area at the same time.

Use of lots was at times inefficient as they were closed or cars were directed to long lines for distant spaces when there were open spaces nearby.

Record crowds approaching from all directions encouraged by nice weather and curiosity to see the changed venue, APPROACHING CROWD 16not to mention the Paw Patrol effect.

Possible ways to improve the system:

Get Live Nation to avoid scheduling concerts at the amp during the Fair. Grandstand shows helped draw customers—the new venue just makes it more difficult to attend.

If people are to be convinced that bussing in from satellite locations is easier, it has to actually be made easier, perhaps by adding locations and certainly by adding busses.

Do whatever can be done to open up space on or near Fair property that could be used for additional parking.

There are only so many roads and highways, but maybe more ramps and entrances could be opened to get cars off the roads quicker.

Use cameras to monitor lots for open spaces and keep accurate track of parking spaces.

Use trams to bring patrons through the park area from Long Branch Park.

To be honest, trying to figure this out is headache-inducing. It’s not fun as the Fair should be. But it is important to get this straight. A repeat of this mess next year is not acceptable and could actually cause people to avoid attending the Fair.

Be assured we haven’t heard the last of this discussion.

Dazzling

FIREWORKS OVER GATE 16No doubt, the attendance numbers for the 2016 New York State Fair were stunning, shattering the previous record by over 106,000. It’s ironic, though hardly surprising, to realize that the amazing achievements of this year, starting with the redesign, also presented the toughest challenges and provoked the harshest criticism.

There seems to be plenty of space for 100k-plus throngs to swarm the grounds, that’s not the problem. Clearly, getting everyone in and parked was overwhelming, as traffic jams and park-and-ride hassles proved repeatedly. Then there was the challenge of people navigating the grounds, providing patronage for vendors in all corners, including those who were relocated, sometimes grudgingly.TROY INTERVIEW 16

State Fair Hound will take a stab at coming up with some suggestions, while keeping all criticism constructive. Really, how tough can you be on an entertainment venue for being too successful?

There have predictably and appropriately been numerous news reports, several indicating that Fair planners are already looking forward to improving methods and procedures. Don’t forget, the Fair and Acting Director Troy Waffner in particular, are always appreciative for feedback from the public. Submit yours on the website, nysfair.org.

But before we go any further, thanks and congratulations are in order to the Fair staff. State Fair Hound has seen first hand how hard they work DOMINIC 16and how devoted they are to making this event one of the best of it’s kind in the nation. Over the course of the next year, The Hound will occasionally share photos of those who worked so hard. We start today with Troy, above being interviewed, and with Dominic, who spoke with obvious pride about his role in keeping the Fairgrounds looking great.

Thank you everyone. Great job.

 

 

Gate Crashers

Prior to the 2016 New York State Fair, State Fair Hound made an obvious prediction–this year would be like no other. UPSIDE 16Judging by the record-shattering attendance alone, that proved to be true.

But this Fair distinguished itself in so many ways, some positive, others less so. The coming days will bring reflection and evaluation, criticism and praise. But let’s wait for the dust to settle, both literally and figuratively, before going that route. For now, suffice to say, it’s a Fair that won’t be forgotten.

Just by attending, you are part of history, a number that organizers could only have hoped to achieve. If you feel a little let down that it’s over, look ahead as this sign near the Christmas tree display encourages, CHRISTMAS SIGN 16and follow State Fair Hound for much more analysis, commentary, deliberation and many photos of what has miraculously transpired. Farewell New York State Fair until next year.

Monday Fun Day

Monday is your last chance to be part of Fair history as the attendance record is all but assured to fall this year. It’s been a sensational Fair, PAW PATROL MOB 16highlighted by the stunning makeover of the grounds and punctuated by the masses of kids and parents tolerating long lines for the mindboggling popularity of the Paw Patrol show.

There have also been plenty of colorful characters to meet, including those pictured below.

COPPER COUPLE 16

FLAMINGO CLOSE-UP 16

MAPLE GUY 16

 

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