SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – 2018 was another record-breaking year for the New York State Fair near Syracuse. 1,279,010 people visited the Fair this year, smashing last year’s record by 10 percent.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited the fairgrounds shortly after a central New York family broke the attendance record Monday afternoon. He pointed out the record breaking attendance of the last three years followed a $120 million state investment into the Fair. He called the Fair a metaphor for central New York and Syracuse.
“And what this fair’s success says, when you invest, and when you bring a little creativity and a little help, and you develop that asset, boy oh boy, you can unleash phenomenal potential,” said Cuomo.
Acting Fair Director Troy Waffner said the state’s investment has created a new dynamic at the 177-year old Fair that needed some changes. Things like a new music festival grounds, unprecedented spending on entertainment and construction of a new Expo Center that featured a fair-only ice rink.
“The fair is getting fun again. It went through a little malaise and the investment , the reenergizing, the programmatic changes, nobody can say the fair hasn’t changed,” said Waffner. “Even if this is the last investment with the Expo Building, the fair will continue to change every year with just programming.”
This year also marked the opening of the newly paved Orange parking lot with more spaces and a new exit that serves thousands of fairgoers. The Cuomo Administration says there were minimal traffic issues with the new configuration, but Waffner said with higher attendance comes more of a necessity for efficient parking.
“Our biggest problem or issue, is we have to get parking to reflect attendance. When we were doing under a million the parking was fine. Now that were doing 1.2, almost 1.3 million, we’ve got to expand,” said Waffner. “Expanding the Orange lot helped, the new the park and rides helped, but we really have to find more land that’s close to the fairgrounds.”
Along with the all-time attendance record, this year’s fair also broke several daily attendance records.