Patriotic Performers: The Great New York State Fair’s Annual “Star Spangled Challenge” Launches July 4

State Fair Competition Will Select 13 Winners to Perform the National Anthem


If you’ve got a song in your heart and wear the Red, White and Blue on your sleeve, the Great New York State Fair is looking for you. The annual Star Spangled Challenge begins July 4.  To compete, people upload a short video of themselves singing or playing “The Star Spangled Banner” to the Fair’s contest site on its Facebook page, here. Thirteen winners will be chosen. Each will perform the National Anthem live on the Chevy Court stage at approximately 9:58 a.m. to open the day’s activities at the Fair.

“This competition is unlike any other competition we run,” said Troy Waffner, Acting Fair Director. “Our day doesn’t begin until we’ve paused to pay tribute to America, and to hear it performed by a New Yorker in person is special in a way that playing a recording just can’t match.”

More than 350 people and groups of all ages and from all corners of the state have entered the competition since it began in 2015.  While most have been individual singers and duos, past winners have included a keyboard player who performed an instrumental version, a guitarist who emulated Jimi Hendrix’s version of the National Anthem and a barbershop group.

To enter, contestants create a video of themselves singing or playing at least the entire first verse of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Performances can be solo or as part of a group and can be vocal or instrumental. They then upload the video to video-sharing sites YouTube or Vimeo and submit a link to the video on the contest entry form on the Fair’s Facebook page.  People without the ability to upload to YouTube or Vimeo may send videos to along with their full name, address and daytime phone number. Winners and finalists from prior years may not enter again.

Contest entries close July 25. A panel of judges will then choose 20 finalists. Beginning August 3, the Fair’s Facebook fans will vote for their favorites from among the finalists. Voting ends August 13. The 13 entrants with the most votes will be the winners. They receive free admission and parking passes and will be contacted by the Fair to set their performance date.

Judges include last year’s first place winner, Matthew Gierier, as well as Fair vendor Thomas Whelan and Waffner.

The New York State Fair, operated by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, runs from August 22 to September 3, 2018. The Fair's mission, reflected in its theme, "FIND YOUR GREAT," is to showcase the best of New York agriculture while providing top-quality entertainment.

The home of the Great New York State Fair is a 375-acre exhibit and entertainment complex that operates all year. A year-round schedule of events is available on the Fair’s website. Find The Great New York State Fair on Facebook, follow @NYSFair on Twitter, on Snapchat at nysfair and enjoy photos from the Fair at Also, New Yorkers are invited to send their ideas for the Great New York State Fair at