What's New and Improved at the New York State Fair? Here's a Sampling

Aug 22, 2017

The New York State Fair opens Wednesday morning to start an extended 13-day run through Labor Day.  WAER News joined a media preview of some highlights.

It wouldn't be the fair if we didn't mention food, so we start right inside the main gate, where Syracuse-based Recess Coffee now greets visitors at the main information building.  Communications director Cathy Roosa says they’re experimenting with different foods.

Cathy Roosa with Recess Coffee delivers samples of shakes with bacon to fair spokesman Dave Bullard to distribute to the media.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

"We really wanted to make everything very local-focused.  It all started with the breakfast sandwich.  We got our doughnuts from Geddes Bakery.  While we were rolling with our New York cheddar and New York bacon, we figured...might as well add it to everything else!"

Next door in the Center of Progress Building, director of tourism with I Love New York Ross Levi says their new exhibit showcases all 11 of New York’s vacation regions.

"You'll see the big video screens around you.  The two on either side are showing you great places and attractions across New York State.  It literally goes from Niagara Falls to Long Island.  Certainly the Finger Lakes, Central New York,  Syracuse region are well represented...there's Dinosaur Bar-B-Q as I'm talking, as if on que.  It really does cover the whole breadth of New York State."

The new exhibit for the New York State Police, which is marking it's centennial this year. It includes a taller rappelling tower and new scuba tank.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Moving to near the horticulture building, Trooper Jack Keller says the state police exhibit has a new, more prominent home to mark its centennial.

"A lot of people aren't aware  that this [the fair] was our first assignment in 1917.   The troopers back then rode horseback, and they did tricks.   People from around the state came here to something like a grandstand, to see troopers doing tricks on horses.  That spearheaded this showcase, which has obviously changed over the years.  Now, I think it gives them an opportunity to show them we've been here ever since."

The exhibit includes a new, taller 60 foot rapelling tower and scuba tank for demonstrations. 

A short walk away is the midway, and perhaps the most noticeable addition is the 14-hundred foot Broadway Skyliner.  Wade Shows owner Frank Zaitchik says it’s unique way to move people to new attractions on the west end of the fairgrounds.

"It adds permanency.  It adds something that not everybody has.  There's not a lot of state fairs that have them.  Only the very biggest and only the very best state fairs have them.  Certainly the New York State Fair is one of the best fairs in the country."

The ride is five dollars one way and eight dollars round trip, and is not included with the carnival ride wristbands.