Revitalized Fairgrounds Welcomed More Than 1.1 Million Visitors
10% Increase from Previous Attendance Record; 23% Increase from 2015
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that a record 1,117,630 million people visited the 2016 Great New York State Fair, making this the highest attended state fair in its 175 year history. These final attendance records are 10 percent higher than the previous attendance record set in 2001 and a whopping 23 percent higher than 2015.
“The Great New York State Fair truly lived up to its name this year with record crowds, record sales, and a new sense of excitement fueled by our $50 million investment to modernize the fair’s facilities and better be able to showcase the very best that New York has to offer,” Governor Cuomo said. “We set the bar high, but the results far exceeded expectations by every conceivable measure. I congratulate everyone who worked on this year’s fair on a job well done and cannot wait to see this banner year topped in 2017.”
This year, The Wade Shows Midway also saw overall sales rising above $3 million for the first time and 1.3 million rides taken by visitors. Attendance at Chevy Court concerts, which are free with admission to the Fair, were the second highest in the state’s history, with an estimated 265,450 people attending the 23 shows from nationally renowned performers such as Kesha, Brian Wilson, Culture Club and Flo Rida. The special Labor Day performance by Chicago, the final show on the band’s current tour, attracted the largest crowd, estimated at 31,200.
The Milk Bar, home of the Fair’s signature 25 cent cup of perfectly chilled white or chocolate milk, sold nearly 400,000 cups of milk, completely selling out by 8 p.m. on the final day. In the new home of the Fair’s baked potato booth, 55,175 potatoes sold at $1 each as fairgoers said they enjoyed the more comfortable, air conditioned space. The New York State Maple Association’s Maple Center also saw a record increase of 15 percent in sales at the fair, and the private vendors behind two of the year’s most outlandish food offerings – the New York Harvester Thanksgiving sandwich and the State Fair Bloody Mary – also reported strong sales.
Governor Cuomo’s $50 million plan to revitalize the nation’s oldest state fair involved a new Main Gate, which is reminiscent of the Fair’s original arched stone gate from 1900, the establishment of a new Empire RV Park, which will be used for many of the privately-run shows at the Fairgrounds, and an expanded Midway, both upgraded with underground water, sewer and electrical infrastructure.
In its first year, the Empire RV Park sold out of its available spaces. The new park increased the number of spaces available from about 200 to 315. Those spaces have underground water, sewer and electrical hookups and are only for those who are staying the entire 12 day run of the Fair. The Fair also makes “dry camping” spaces available for those who want to stay just a day or two and can provide most of their own services. Those spaces sold out early, as well.
Yesterday, Governor Cuomo marked the record by shattering a block of ice engraved with the Fair’s logo and the numbers of the previous set record at a celebration in the Fair’s Empire Room. VIDEO of the Governor’s remarks at the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h264, mp4) format here. PHOTOS of the event are available here.
Troy Waffner, Acting Fair Director said, “This year, fairgoers have been treated to a brand new State Fair and the historic attendance numbers are proof positive that it was a huge success. I thank our dedicated team who worked hard to bring Governor Cuomo’s vision for the Fair to life, and I especially thank every visitor who helped us reach this tremendous milestone.”
County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, “The Great New York State Fair provides a significant economic impact to the region and thanks to this year’s record attendance, driven by Governor Cuomo’s $50 million investment, the benefits to our community have never been greater. We are honored to host the Fair in Onondaga County and I look forward to the future success of this incredible event.”