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NY State Fair breaks attendance records

Ellen Abbott
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (left) and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney (right) with the family that broke the NY State Fair record.

The New York State Fair broke attendance records this year, in the wake of a $50 million state-funded renovation of the Syracuse-area fairgrounds. Attendance for the 12-day fair was 1,117,630, according to fair officials -- up 23 percent over last year.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state officials literally smashed the attendance record to the New York State Fair, taking an ice pick to a sculpture that had the former attendance records engraved on it.

Cuomo attended the final day of the 12-day fair, which looked dramatically different following the state’s investment. There is a new front gate, a revamped midway, and dozens of small touches here and there that give the fair a new feel. Not only that, there was a massive investment in the infrastructure of the fairgrounds. But Cuomo doesn’t think it was the physical changes at the fairgrounds that lured more than a million visitors.

"I think what attracted them more were the new activities -- the linkage of the symphonies at the [Lakeview] amphitheater, the bassmaster fishing tournament, the quality of the entertainment groups, Chicago tonight, ZZ Top etc. I think it was the activities that were bringing them than the physical changes, because you wouldn’t have seen the physical changes,” said the governor.

The Democrat also notes the fair is part of a marketing effort by the state to get more people to come to upstate New York.

“I’ve always believed in my gut, if they see upstate New York they will come. And once they come they will come back. And I think that’s what’s happening. And the state fair is one of our big magnets, one million people come,” said the governor.

Cuomo also says the fair is one of central New York’s most important economic engines, generating approximately $100 million a year to the local economy.

Cuomo also says there will be a continued state investment, with the goal of making the fairgrounds a year-round venue.

"And if you think this fair was great, you’re going to have to come back next year, because you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”