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2017 NYS Fair wraps up, sets records

NYS Fair
The midway at the New York State Fair

More people visited the 2017 edition of the New York State Fair in Geddes than any other. 1,161,912 million visitors came to the fair during its 13-day run, breaking the overall attendance record set last year. 

The success of the state fair comes on the heels of a $50 million state investment in the fairgrounds.

There have been a lot of changes at the fairgrounds in the Town of Geddes in the last few years as New York State has pumped millions of dollars into revitalizing the facility. And fairgoers have noticed.

“They do something every year. They do something to try to improve it. The way they are getting in the cars for parking, they’ve opened it up,” said one state fair visitor.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News
More people attended the 2017 New York State Fair than any other fair before.

A better marketing plan that went into effect four years ago is one reason the fair is getting better crowds, with more than a million visitors now two years in a row. That, along with popular entertainment and lower admission prices on certain days means more repeat customers are coming through the turnstiles.

“And some of that is ‘we’re done with work, the fair’s open for five more hours. Let’s come in and have a beer, grab dinner, and wander around,’ and you have the ones that come back because you can’t do the fair in one day anymore. When we opened up the 63 acres of land, we really made the fair big,” said Acting Fair Director Troy Waffner.

In addition to the overall attendance record being set this year, the daily attendance record was broken on August 27, then broken again on Monday, with more than 124,000 people visiting the fair. All those visitors resulted in some traffic problems, especially with significant delays on August 27. Waffner says officials were able to learn from that experience going forward.

“From the first Sunday when Lynyrd Skynyrd and Earth, Wind, and Fire played to today, we’ve totally changed our traffic plan,” said Waffner. “There’s better communication about moving lots and balancing park and rides.:

Vendors like Tom Whelan were happy with the way the new and improved fair played out.

“They’re getting the people in and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.