The New York State Fair has begun.
Governor Kathy Hochul kicked off the event announcing $34.7 million in projects to improve agricultural facilities at the Fairgrounds in Syracuse.
Hochul cut the ribbon at a ceremony celebrating the opening and full return of the 2022 Great New York State Fair.
That aforementioned project will be complete in 2025, according to the Governor, who said it’s highlighted by a 1.5-acre greenhouse, which will be located near the Exposition Center. It also features a new show space for goats, a new sheep barn and wool center, a new horse barn, a new concession stand, streetscape improvements to Restaurant Row, the Fair’s street of permanent concession buildings, and various infrastructure improvements.
“I couldn’t be happier to be celebrating the full return of our New York State Fair this year, and today, I am excited to begin nearly $35 million in improvements that will help make the Great New York State Fair even greater,” Governor Hochul said. “The upgrades we are making today will showcase and promote New York’s one-of-a-kind agricultural industry, as we continue to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the country to the Fair each year.”
Governor Hochul’s remarks came during Governor’s Day, the traditional opening day of the Fair. She was also awarded the 4-H Distinguished Alumni Medallion, an honor given to an accomplished alumnus who embodies the life-changing impact of 4-H. Governor Hochul, who participated in Cornell Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program throughout her childhood, is the first sitting governor to receive this award.
The $34.7 million project to improve agricultural facilities at the New York State Fair Grounds includes:
Greenhouse and Horticultural Education Center
The one-and-a-half to two-acre greenhouse, when complete, will be a state-of-the-art glass structure facility, powered by solar panels and featuring a rainwater collection filtration system. It will allow for the on-site growing of local New York products and provide food and flowers for use during the Fair. The greenhouse will double as an educational center, featuring a classroom area for students and opportunities for young people to participate in agricultural demonstrations.
Sheep Barn and Wool Center
The 15,000 square foot sheep barn replaces an old and damaged structure that has since been torn down. Sheep have been displayed in a tent in the last two years. The Wool Center is staffed by volunteers who educate the public about wool products and their uses. A new center will be located inside the sheep barn, bringing the two elements under one roof for the first time. This new building is scheduled to open in time for the 2024 Fair.
Three 9,000 square foot stables will be built to supplement the Fair’s existing, older stables. The Fairgrounds hosts horse shows almost weekly in the spring, summer and fall, with its stables in nearly constant use. They are expected to open for the 2024 Fair.
The 2,500 square foot goat pavilion will now be solar powered and serve as an open-air space for goat shows, replacing temporary facilities. It is scheduled to open in 2023.
Concessions Building and Restaurant Row Streetscape Improvements
A 1,600 square foot concession stand will be built along Cayuga Avenue on the Fairgrounds, the first new such stand built in decades. It will be the home of Tully’s Good Times, a veteran regional restaurant and popular longtime Fair vendor. Improvements are also slated for the area of the Fair’s other permanent stands, Restaurant Row. There will be new lighting and landscaping, as well as improvements to select vendor spaces.
These improvements build on more than $125 million in renovations and new construction since 2015, which marked the first significant investment in the 132-year-old fairgrounds in more than 80 years. An aged grandstand and underutilized racetrack were razed to make way for improvements, including a full-service RV park that supports many year-round events and helps attract national-class events, a midway built on a heavy-duty foundation that reduces the need for above-ground wiring that poses tripping hazards, new outdoor space for programming and parking and the 110,000 square foot Exposition Center, the largest clear-span space north of New York City between Boston and Cleveland.
Other improvements include construction of a new main entrance, paving of the Fair’s largest parking lot and construction of a new entrance ramp to the adjacent interstate highway. Some of the Fair’s entertainment venues were improved, while streets were straightened and given lighting and scenic improvements.
In addition to announcing the new improvement projects, the Governor also highlighted progress made on her September 2021 plan to facilitate greater coordination among county fairs in 2022. The Governor directed the Department of Agriculture and Markets to assess support, growth, and revitalization opportunities for all fairs in New York as the State enters the 2022 fair season. That announcement additionally included a charge to work with county fairs to evaluate ways to increase their marketing and promotion, as well as opportunities to improve youth and agricultural programming initiatives at all fairs statewide, including the State Fair. The Department has been actively working with the county fairs this year, including with the NYS Association of Agricultural Fairs, to develop a robust marketing and outreach program, cross promote the fairs through various communications, including social media, and will host a roundtable during the off-season to identify additional opportunities for growing and promoting agricultural competitions at the county fairs and the New York State Fair.