More Than 1.26 Million Fairgoers Visit the Fair in 2018, Up 8.4 Percent Over 2017.
Albany, NY - Sept. 4, 2018 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Great New York State Fair broke the overall attendance record in its 177-year history and surpassed several daily attendance records over the course of its 13-day run. As of 1:45 p.m., more than 1.26 million fairgoers have passed through the Fair's gates so far since Opening Day. Governor Cuomo, joined by state and local officials, marked the milestone by smashing an oversized record with baseball bats at a celebration in the Fair's Empire Room. The Governor also presented four lifetime passes and a host of Fair-related gifts to the family that broke the record as visitors 1,161,913 - 1,161,917 from the Town of Manlius and Village of Chittenango.
"We had a memorable Opening Day at the Fair, celebrating the new Expo Center and the Fair's long-standing traditions that draw thousands of visitors every year. The momentum of that day has continued over the past week, leading to the new all-time and historic attendance record," Governor Cuomo said. "The improvements to the Fairgrounds are clearly making for a better visitor experience, helping attract more fairgoers near and far, and all while boosting the entire Central New York economy."
"The New York State Fair continues to attract a record number of people with new activities and programs, including the opening of the Expo Center this year," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "The Fair highlights some of the best local products and talent that New York has to offer, and we're continuing to invest to grow the Fair each year. The Great New York State Fair is helping to drive tourism in the Central New York area and boost the economy of the region and the entire state."
The New York State Fair also broke the highest single-day attendance in the Fair's long history on Saturday, September 1 with 134,115 fairgoers. This broke the previous record high by 6,721, which was set the week prior on Saturday August 25. This is the seventh straight record-setting day for the Fair since Opening Day, when the Governor attended to officially cut the ribbon on the brand-new, 136,000 square-foot Exposition Center.
The new facility, and the recently completed renovation of the Fair's Orange parking lot, completed the second phase of the Governor's plan to revitalize the State Fairgrounds. These efforts have supported the surge in attendance to the Fair and non-Fair rental of fairgrounds facilities reach an all-time high. Residents and travelers visited the Fair to see enjoy the many new exhibits, rides, games, attractions and concerts across the Fairgrounds.
The $27 million newly paved Orange Lot helped the Fair welcome the greatest crowd in its long history with minimal traffic issues. The state Department of Transportation paved the Fair's largest lot this year, which added about 2,000 parking spaces. Fairgoers made extensive use of off-site Park-N-Ride lots served by Centro buses and buses brought in from the public transportation agencies of Rochester, Buffalo and Albany. Centro estimated that more than 30,000 fairgoers rode its buses Saturday, freeing approximately 5,000 parking spaces at the Fairgrounds.
The new Expo Center, the largest indoor events space north of New York City between Boston and Cleveland, was a tremendous draw for visitors and showcased New York's bounty of outdoor attractions with a temporary ice rink as a centerpiece to host hockey, figure skating, broomball and other special events, including free public skating.
The Expo Center also highlighted more of the state's natural wonders with an expanded I LOVE NEW YORK exhibit, with the theme, "All Year. All Here." Fairgoers experienced New York State's four seasons and captured photos in various selfie stations, which included a luge and snowmobile; a canal boat; a corn maze and tractor; dirt and race cars; and the Fair's annual sand sculpture. The Expo was also home to a new Taste NY beer garden that allowed fairgoers to sample Taste NY beer, wine, spirits and products.
Other new attractions at the Fair this year included new agricultural days, a new New York Experience area, more music and entertainment than ever, and several new special events. The Fair successfully built on its agricultural heritage with two new days: Maple Day and Grape Day, which were designed to promote and highlight these important industries to New York agriculture.
In the brand-new New York Experience area, the Chevrolet Music Festival Experience Stage was home to more than 50 musical performances this year, including the first national recording acts to be booked there: Eddie Money, All Time Low, John Kay & Steppenwolf and Foghat. The stage was also home to two festivals - the new Latino Village Weekend and the annual Syracuse JAMS FunkFest. A newly debuted nightly Drone Light Show and the first-ever free Midway ride, The Observation Tower, capped off the attractions in the New York Experience area.
Across the Fairgrounds, visitors enjoyed a wide array of entertainment, from Sesame Street Live to Arch Dragons, strolling costumed stilt performers; Kachunga, an educational show about alligators; and Max Power, an eight-foot tall robot DJ. Other special events and promotions that kicked off at the 2018 Great New York State Fair included:
Stomp Out Stigma Day, devoted to education to help people struggling with addition and families trying to help them.
Adopt A Pet Day, in collaboration with local animal welfare organizations, allowed people to adopt a pet to love and take it home from the Fair;
Underground Railroad exhibit in the Wegmans Art & Home Center, with daily talks on the Empire Theater stage, noting the region's rich history with the anti-slavery movement;
The 90th anniversary of the Witter Agricultural Museum;
A statewide cornhole tournament sponsored by Labatts;
Cans for Cancer promotion, where pink receptacles were placed all over the Fair for returnable cans and bottles, with all the money going to fight cancer; and
Two nights of storytelling in the Empire Theater.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "The 2018 Great New York State Fair started off with a bang on Opening Day, when the Governor celebrated the brand-new Expo Center. Between the new facility, the improved parking lots and all of the new exhibits and attractions, including the many agriculture-related events, and our commitment to time-honored traditions, this was truly the best Fair yet. Congratulations to the tremendous team who devote countless hours to making this Fair not only the greatest fair in the state, but the greatest fair in the nation."
Troy Waffner, Acting State Fair Director said, "We are blown away by the tremendous response we have had from fairgoers this year. It's truly rewarding to see our loyal fairgoers, and so many new visitors, enjoying all of our new attractions, especially the new Expo Center and the space carved out on the western side of the Fairgrounds. I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish this year, thanks to the Governor's vision of a reimagined Fairgrounds and the creation of 13 days of the best programming and events in our long State Fair history."
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, "This milestone is a testament to the Governor's steadfast commitment to improving and enhancing the Great New York State Fair. It has been a busy 13 days with visitors traveling to our great city from near and far to experience the fun and excitement of local food and drink, and rides and shows. I am proud of every business, worker and volunteer who helped make this year the best yet."
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, "All of the upgrades and improvements to the Fairgrounds have been a huge draw this year, offering even more for fairgoers to enjoy. Thanks to Governor Cuomo's investments, our local participating businesses, and hard-working fair employees, we are celebrating the Fair's highest attendance on record."
Accelerating CNY Rising
Today's announcement complements "CNY Rising," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $4.7 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn as a destination to grow and invest in.
Now, the region is accelerating CNY Rising with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs. More information is available here.