State Fair Hound

An independent view of the New York State Fair

Category: Insider tips (Page 1 of 2)

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.

Corner of the World

Whether you take a tram to stop number 2 or stroll over from the main square, you may hear drumbeats calling you to the lovely Pan African Village. PAN AF CRAFTS VENDOR 17A festive tent in the middle of the action is well-stocked with handmade craft items. Colorfully-attired proprietors display unusual clothing, jewelry and statuary.

Hot rhythms from the nearby stage add to the ambience of one of the most exotic and exciting Fair locales. Every visit is enhanced by the spicy aromas of resident food vendors cooking signature dishes from Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.

This year, the village has been tweaked with more walking space, enhanced signage and spruced-up décor to make this venerable Fair neighborhood seem fresh and new. The Pan African Village should be on every Fair itinerary.

Weather or Not

The strong storms that rocked the Fairgrounds the day before opening day served to remind that the rough weather can hit at any time, jeopardizing the safety of patrons and workers alike. Earlier that day, STORM READY 17Acting Director Troy Waffner accepted a certificate from David Nicosia of the National Weather Service in recognition of the Fair’s storm-ready status. That basically means that there is a plan in place to monitor potentially bad weather, to effectively communicate that information throughout the grounds and to take actions to promote safety. While visitors can walk through the gates ready for a day of fun, it’s comforting to know that the Fair is prepared for weather-related emergencies.

Be Kind to Your Dogs

Visitors can come home from the New York State Fair feeling exhausted after a day of pounding the blacktop, standing in food stand lines, shopping Center of Progress gadgets and focusing on entertainment from Chevy Court to the Iroquois Village. While it’s always been true that having too much fun at the Fair wears you out faster than running a marathon, it was never more true than last year. The cause, of course was the sparkling new, expanded layout of the grounds.

While the entire Fairgrounds didn’t get larger—it’s still the 375 acres it’s always been—many fans likely toured more of it than they had in previous years. MIDWAY SPACE LEMON 16The turf formerly occupied by the mile-long oval track and the massive acreage that had been the infield are now part of the center area. Back then, folks rarely made the trek across the track to the infield, despite the best efforts over the years of Fair planners, who tried many different attractions to utilize it. So, even though that area was part of the whole package, it was largely invisible to Fairgoers.

That’s no longer true. Last year the newly-enlarged midway and the Broadway area were crowded with people trekking across the just-opened vastness of that middle ground and enduring the blisters and perspiration that came with it. Thus, it’s really important to think ahead and prioritize your walking, recognizing that you can’t do it all in one day. Use the tram and take frequent breaks to avoid getting exhausted. You’ll have a much better Fair experience if you do.

If you can , go several times, planning ahead to maximize each visit by focusing on making a few stops each time at your favorite building, exhibit or entertainment venue. It’s more affordable than ever to get through the gate, so go two or three times rather than try to do too much in one visit. Your dogs will thanks you.

Countdown Photo–10 Weeks

This gazebo is in the courtyard accessible from the Horticulture Building.

This gazebo is in the courtyard accessible from the Horticulture Building.


It's always a treat to see State Fair characters cavorting on the grounds Get your candy ready in case they come to your door on Halloween.

It’s always a treat to see State Fair characters cavorting on the grounds Get your candy ready in case they come to your door on Halloween.

Map Quest

Long-time Fairgoers are going to feel somewhat lost trying to negotiate the radically changed Fair landscape this year. You can check your map, MAP KIOSK 16but 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, Gianelli 16is 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.

Late Gates

One important change for 2016 from previous editions of the New York State Fair concerns the time gates officially open to customers. Opening time has been pushed back from the traditional 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. That decision was centered around safety concerns that arose as visitors wandered the grounds while delivery and maintenance trucks were still cruising the streets to service vendors and businesses. ENT. GATE 4 14

“We have had near misses out here before,” Acting Director Troy Waffner explained. “The goal is to control the pedestrian and vehicular traffic together. So that was the Genesis behind that, to eliminate the pedestrian and vehicle traffic.”

Of course, 10 a.m. has always been the opening time for the Center of Progress, Horticulture and other buildings and that hasn’t changed. State Fair Hound did a little sniffing around and discovered that early arrivals are likely to be allowed in before 10, unofficially. So if you enjoy breakfasting at the Fair, you can still do that. Just watch out for the trucks, OK?



With two weeks left to opening day, State Fair Hound will be posting a series of articles to get you ready for this year’s New York State Fair. A recent interview with Acting Director Troy Waffner and Fair public relations officer Dave Bullard was enlightening so there’s plenty of news to share.

If you like to take the tram to navigate the Fairgrounds, TRAM 15for instance, this year you’ll be transported without charge thanks to the sponsorship of Chevrolet. “They’re providing Chevy Silverados (pick-up trucks) to pull them,” Waffner told The Hound.

The charge to ride trams in previous years was two bucks a day and they had been towed by tractors. “They’re not going to be pulled by stinky, loud old tractors,” Bullard added. “At least we won’t have these big, open-wheeled tractors. This is so much better. “


August Encore

There’s a month to go until opening day of the 2016 New York State Fair and the Fair website now features a listing of what’s new this year, what’s returning and, by omission, what’s not.

Preliminary indications are that several favorite food stands will be serving from new accommodations, some in new locations. But the good news for faithful customers is that it looks like Gianelli, King David’s, the Shamrock, Davoli’s, DAVOLI PANAWhelan’s and Tully’s will all be feeding hungry Fair patrons. More on that later as the updated interactive food finder is released.

In terms of exhibits and entertainment, the Sea Lion Splash, Hawk Creek Birds of Prey, Cow Birthing Center, Harlem Wizards, Swifty Swine Racing Pigs, HAWK CREEK LADYBandaloni, Eudora Farm Petting Zoo, Sand Sculpture, log carver and Hilby will all be back.

State Fair Hound is on the trail of a few exciting new features coming in and will report soon on those.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén