State Fair Hound

An independent view of the New York State Fair

Category: Insider tips

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.

Gear Up

We’re starting to see some early projections of weather we can expect for this year’s New York State Fair and it looks pretty nice. Of course, any 12-day period is bound to have some less-than-ideal weather. As with any outdoor event, preparation is the key to successfully getting through whatever may come and we offer these tips to help you plan ahead, based on our experience on the Fairgrounds.

If rain is in the forecast or if there was significant rainfall right before your visit, our best advice starts with waterproof footwear. Drainage is an issue in many spots on the grounds, particularly in midway areas so you may be splashing through puddles. Naturally, grassy spots like Chevy Court or the Iroquois Village stay wet longer and can be muddy. The Six Nations turf, in fact has seen major ponding after large storms.

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If you’re attending one of the six events at the Grandstand, remember that the walkways underneath are subject to flooding. The uncovered seats hold water, especially those in the elevated track areas, so have something to soak up the water and maybe something on which you can sit. The folks sitting behind you won’t appreciate you raising an umbrella, so if it may rain, raincoats, ponchos and hats keep you dry without starting a brawl.

Those single-use ponchos are available in dollar stores at a fraction of what you’ll pay for one on the grounds, so get a couple to carry in your pocket or purse. We’ll leave it to your common sense to prepare for cold nights, but we’ve seen our share at the grandstand and have learned to wear layers.


It seems that there are always a couple of hot days, so take note of places that are cool, including the air-conditioned major buildings. The Empire Theater and the demonstration kitchen, both located in the Art and Home Center, are especially cool. Outdoors, the Iroquois Village is an oasis, but any shady bench can feel great. Cool beverages are, of course, recommended and buck-a-bottle water is widely available.

Windy conditions can make outdoor dining an adventure, but manageable with simple precautions. However, major storms can be frightening, so pay attention to announcements of approaching thunderstorms and take cover. Rides are shut down in severe weather and the midway is a good place to avoid.

Rainy days are generally less crowded, which can make them good times to hit the Fair for those who are prepared. There will be fewer rides running and some of the outdoor sideshows may cancel performances. But if you want to spend some time touring the buildings and don’t mind sitting at Chevy Court wearing raingear, you can have a great time, regardless of the rain.

Overall, watch the forecasts, monitor conditions, go prepared and you’ll be fine.

Countdown: One Week

With just one week to go until the gates open on the 2015 New York State Fair, it’s time to get excited.

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This year the Fair is making a play to boost attendance on opening day, Aug. 27, with $3 admission, available at the gate. For some reason, day one has the lowest daily record (74,385 set in 2000) and last year under 42,000 attended on a rainy day. That makes it a great day to attend as parking is easier, traffic lighter and lines shorter at food stands.

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This year could be different as the Grandstand concert that night, country-ish rocker Eric Church is expected to draw well. Combine that with the $3 admission and we’d expect more than the usual opening day attendance numbers.

Of course, weather is always a factor (more on that in an upcoming post) and tradition says there won’t be an enormous crowd.

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Still, it’s time to buy your tickets and make your plans. If not opening day, make it early in the Fair in case circumstance prevent you from going later. Or maybe you want to attend several times. The Hound recommends it. You just can’t see it all in one day. You have one week to get ready.

Beat the Rush

Arriving at the New York State Fair early in the morning offers a chance at a more relaxed start as most days, you can beat the rush and get a good parking space before sauntering onto the grounds. But if you arrive at 8 or 9 a.m., before the buildings open or the rides are churning, what can you do? We recommend eating breakfast at one of many vendors who open in the morning for Fair workers and early birds.

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It may strike you as odd to smell bacon frying instead of the customary peppers and onions, but some of the breakfast meals you can get are sure worth the trip. The Iroquois cookhouse is a popular destination, offering a full menu of homestyle favorites. Likewise, the Grange stand, home of the famous ox roast dinners, cooks up a delicious breakfast featuring blueberry pancakes as good as any you’ll find in a restaurant, served with real maple syrup. For lighter fare, some stands, including Bosco’s, fry their own doughnuts fresh daily, while fresh fruit is available from some vendors.

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The Fairgrounds is a different place in the morning as delivery trucks re-stock the stands and everyone cleans up and sets up in preparation for another exciting day. It can also be relaxing, especially if you settle down on a bench near the reflecting pool or at a picnic table near Chevy Court.

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You can get an insider’s look at the inner workings as rides get inspected, cows get milked and everything get spruced up, all before the sun is high in the sky, heating the blacktop.
Gates open at 8 a.m., so set the alarm and get there early for a special Fair day.

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