Project Includes New State-of-the-Art Greenhouse to Promote New York Agriculture
Groundbreaking Comes at the Start of the 2022 Great New York State Fair, Marking the Fair's Full Return
Highlights Partnerships To Drive Agricultural and Economic Development at County Fairs Across the State
National 4-H Council Honors Governor Hochul with 4-H Distinguished Alumni Medallion
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the beginning of the fourth phase of improvements at the New York State Fairgrounds, a $34.7 million project to improve agricultural facilities at the Fairgrounds in Syracuse. Governor Hochul cut the ribbon at a ceremony celebrating the opening and full return of the 2022 Great New York State Fair. The project, already underway and to be completed in 2025, is highlighted by a 1.5-acre greenhouse, which will be located near the Exposition Center. The project also includes 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 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.
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "There's a long list of things that make the Great New York State Fair the best Fair in the nation—amazing entertainment and rides, great food and loyal fairgoers, but it's the Fair's continued focus on agriculture that set it apart. Governor Hochul has long been committed to supporting our agricultural community here in New York State, and I can't think of better way to share our story with fairgoers than to shine the spotlight on agriculture at the New York State Fair with these exciting new projects. With a new Sheep Barn and Wool Center, Goat Pavilion, horse stables, and a new state-of-the-art greenhouse on the horizon, we are investing in the future of the industry and inviting our fairgoers to learn firsthand about New York State agriculture."
Interim New York State Fair Director Sean Hennessey said, "What an exciting time for the Great New York State Fair! Since 1841, The Fair has been known for showcasing the best of New York agriculture and farming. Now, thanks to the Governor's investment and Commissioner's commitment, we will be able to bring new attention to the agricultural industry by bringing our Sheep Barn and Wool Center, Horse Stables and Goat Pavilion into the future, and enhancing educational opportunities through establishing a new greenhouse and education center. We can't wait for fairgoers to see these new additions, starting next year."
State Senator John W. Mannion said, "The State Fair is New York's biggest showcase and one of its most important celebrations. The ongoing multiphase upgrades to the grounds and facilities will improve the visitor experience and is an investment in agriculture, the economy, and our heritage. I applaud Governor Hochul for her support of The Fair and I appreciated sharing the sites and sounds of day one with her and her team."
State Senator Rachel May said, "The Great New York State Fair is one of my favorite annual traditions here in Central New York, and I am so excited to see more improvements being made to the Fairgrounds. The agricultural programming is an integral part of the visitor experience and history of the fair, and the improvements of the barns and greenhouses will expand on this state treasure. Thanks to Governor Hochul for her great work and for joining us for this announcement."
State Senator Michelle Hinchey said, "The Great New York State Fair is at its greatest when agriculture is front and center, and once complete, these exciting infrastructure upgrades will ensure that fairgoers can experience the best of New York Ag. The Fair is a major economic driver for our small agribusinesses and the rural communities that support them, and I thank Governor Hochul for working with the Legislature to elevate their work through these capital improvements."
Assemblymember William B. Magnarelli said, "The Great New York State Fair is a tradition of summer in Central New York. The investment in the agricultural facilities is a way of maintaining the importance of this event's roots while also making it cutting edge and attractive to modern fairgoers."
Assemblymember Pamela J. Hunter said, "The New York State Fair continues to be a highlight of the summer for those in Central New York and those who travel from every region of our state. For many, the Fair is a first introduction to New York's extensive selection of agricultural products and services. This significant investment will show more of what New York agriculture has to offer and will enrich the experience of attendees for years to come."
Assemblymember Albert A. Stirpe, Jr. said, "A beloved annual tradition, the New York State Fair is a wonderful tourist attraction that draws visitors from all across our great state and beyond. The infrastructure improvement project that's currently underway will undoubtedly help showcase our region's agricultural sectors and bolster local businesses. My family and I have visited the state fairgrounds nearly every year to enjoy all that Central New York has to offer and this year is no different. I look forward to seeing you there!"
Assemblymember Donna Lupardo said, "I'm delighted that the Governor, along with my colleagues in the Legislature, supported these long-needed upgrades to the State Fair. This will allow us to showcase all that New York State agriculture has to offer, while also providing a better and safer environment for the animals. New Yorkers can be very proud of our long agricultural history, our vibrant food economy, and world class research being conducted at Cornell University."
Onondaga County Executive McMahon said, "Onondaga County is proud to be home to the Great New York State Fair and with these latest investments, the Fair will only get better. Just as important, these latest improvements will highlight the important and diverse agriculture economy in New York State. Thank you to New York State for their continued commitment to making the New York State Fairgrounds better each year."
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, "Support for and celebration of agriculture is at the heart of the New York State Fair. The Fair's ag programs and attractions draw families and businesses from all corners of the state to learn and to demonstrate the best of the industry. I thank Governor Hochul and the whole New York State Fair team for continuing to invest in and upgrade the Fairgrounds' agriculture facilities."
This year's Fair marks a full return for the nation's first and oldest state fair. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, the Fair was cancelled for the first time since being shut down and repurposed as a military training base during World War II. The Fair reopened in 2021 with limitations due to the ongoing pandemic, but this year, all buildings will be open and the usual contingent of approximately 10,000 animals will be on display and in competitions.