Appointment Follows the Three Most Successful Fairs in its Long History
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the appointment of Troy Waffner as the Director of the New York State Fair within the Department of Agriculture and Markets, effective immediately. Waffner has served as Acting Director for the past five fairs, a time during which the Governor's ambitious effort to revitalize the Fair and Waffner's leadership in creating attractive programming has vaulted the Great New York State Fair to a position as one of the very best state fairs in America.
"We have made unprecedented investments in this great institution and Troy has played a major role in the Fair's record-breaking successes over the last few years, as well as the Fairground's transformation into a year-round economic engine for Central New York," Governor Cuomo said. "I am pleased to appoint him as the Fair's permanent leader and together, we will continue to build an organization that makes a major contribution to the region's economy and beyond."
Since taking the reins of the Fair, Waffner began to rebuild the annual event from the inside out by creating innovative programming and promotions that would build public enthusiasm for the Fair. Attendance now stands at an all-time high of 1,279,010 after the conclusion of a Fair in which eight of 13 days saw new daily attendance records set.
At the same time, Governor Cuomo invested more than $120 million in the fairgrounds, the first such investment in state facilities in more than 80 years. Three years of improvements include a new, attractive Main Gate, a large midway with heavy-duty pavement, a 313-unit RV park that receives use year-round, open spaces for programming, new or improved exhibit areas for the New York State Police and the Indian Village, and, in 2018, the new Exposition Center, the largest clear-span space north of New York City between Boston and Cleveland. These improvements have been key to the significant growth of the Fair and Fairgrounds in recent years.
Changes made in the operation of the Fair include the creation of special discount admissions on days where attendance had been soft. This year, all four of those days set single-day admission records. On the programming side, innovations such as the annual Food Truck Competition have been successful and studied by other fairs. During Waffner's tenure, the Fair has paid strong attention to customer amenities, adding more seating, shade, bathrooms and child care facilities, while improving the cleanliness and appearance of the fairgrounds. The Fair has also embraced state priorities, such as its support for New York State-made food and beverages and the drone technology industry.
The Fair's facilities rental business, which takes up the entire year outside of the Fair, has also grown. More than 180 public and private events now call the Fairgrounds home, with estimated attendance expected to top one million this year.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Troy Waffner has been a critical part of our team at the Department, assisting our efforts to grow New York agriculture and elevating the Great New York State Fair to a new level. This year's State Fair was the most-attended, best looking and unquestionably the best ever Great New York State Fair, thanks to Troy and his team. I am so pleased with his appointment and believe that with his continued leadership, we will not only help the state's agricultural industry prosper but also see the region's tourism industry grow to new heights."
Director of the New York State Fair Troy Waffner said, "I am honored to continue my service to this great organization and its talented people and thank Governor Cuomo for his faith in me and our team. We will work diligently to meet the Governor's vision of a Fair and Fairgrounds that promotes the best of New York agriculture, provides great entertainment for the people of New York, and becomes a major provider of economic benefits for the people of Central and Upstate New York."
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, "Troy Waffner has been instrumental in implementing the many significant upgrades and improvements to the Fair over the last few years. These innovative changes are attracting more visitors to our community every year and boosting tourism in Onondaga County. I look forward to continuing to work together with Troy and everyone at the Fair to further the tremendous success we are seeing at the Great New York State Fair."