State Fair Hound

An independent view of the New York State Fair

Category: Hound’s view (Page 1 of 3)

No Muffler Court

Traditions are a vital component at the New York State Fair, but there are some that may have outlived their appeal. Labor Day features a parade by various union groups that march down the front road and circle Chevy Court. Certainly it’s appropriate to recognize and accommodate working folks on Labor Day. But moving the parade to Broadway, as other parades were moved, would be a good idea, still visible, but less disruptive on what has become a very busy day.

BIKERS 17

For some reason, part of this Labor Day tradition has been the inclusion in the parade of motorcycles being driven along the route. Bikes can be cool and some fairgoers enjoy seeing them, but this year, the roar from some of the engines was ear-splitting. If you were trapped in the Chevy Court/Dinosaur Bar-B-Que island, you were subjected to potential eardrum damage from the excessive noise.

Re-routing this parade and eliminating excessively-loud bikes are two ideas whose times have come.

Coming Attraction

State Fair Hound’s review of the 2017 New York State Fair continues today with a look a one big change that didn’t quite hit the big time yet. The Empire Experience area had its pond, a big stage, a tiki bar and plenty of open area for vendors and exhibitors. POND DAY 1 17But it didn’t seem to catch on with Fair patrons as it was under attended most of the time. It will gain popularity, maybe next year.

People just need to pay attention to what’s happening down there and realize they can catch a tram or ride the Skyliner to get there. The potential is certainly there, but 2017 was its infancy.

Midway Magic

Looking back on the 13-day New York State Fair just past, there were lots of hits and a few misses. The Hound’s review starts today with the spectacular Wade Shows midway. NIGHT RIDES 17The headline was the addition of the Broadway Skyliner, a structure destined to define the Fair in future years. But the incredible number of rides and games and the sprawling, open layout make this playground a paradise for kids of all ages. The were services, seating, snack stands and even a return of the I Got It game tents. It was bright, splashy, noisy and very exciting.

Giant Leap

If there’s one word that can be used to describe the 2017 New York State Fair, it’s “big.” Make that “enormous.”

Our Fair has always been one of the largest in the country and the layout changes for 2016 increased useable space significantly. DAIRY BLDG REAR 17But with this year’s opening of the Empire Experience grounds, the view from the Broadway Skyliner really emphasized that this is one massive, impressive event. Consider this; There was so much space inside the perimeter that some areas seemed empty, unused. Future plans for those open spots assure that the growth will continue.

Even when over 100,000 people invaded the grounds, it didn’t seem extremely crowded. There were bottlenecks, like the corner between the dairy cattle barn and the Ox Roast, leading to the colonnade, VIEW FROM COL 17that were difficult to navigate, but there are fewer such tight spots.

Though attendance numbers don’t tell the whole story, you remember when one million visitors was the magic number–the holy grail. After the past two Fairs, anything less would be disappointing.

As Fair lovers look back on 2017, they may shiver remembering the chilly temperatures or grimace looking back on the traffic jams–though this year was a definite improvement over 2016. But only a really hardcore curmudgeon can see this fabulous event as anything less than amazing, exciting, delicious and yes–very big.

One Day to Go

Last chance to get advance tickets. The Great New York State Fair opens Wednesday--one day earlier than the traditional opening day. Don't miss it!

Last chance to get advance tickets. The Great New York State Fair opens Wednesday–one day earlier than the traditional opening day. Don’t miss it! And don’t forget to follow State Fair Hound for daily news and updates.

Sticky Ticket

New York State Fair 2017 opens one month from today and advance sale tickets are on sale. There have been some changes, unfortunately, that will make the purchase of tickets and pre-paid ride cards trickier and more expensive for some customers.

WALKERS 17Some advance admission and ride purchases are available online only and guess what—online purchases carry additional fees. Thus buyers save less than advertised and certainly less than in previous years.

Fortunately some tickets are still available at local retail outlets as in past years, which adds convenience and saves money. All of the buying options are outlined on the Fair website, nysfair.ny.gov.

One disappointing caveat revealed on the website is that flights on the midway’s new Sky Ride won’t be covered under the ride-all-day bracelet deal.

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.

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