State Fair’s Annual Drone Film Festival Returns for Third Year

New York State Fair Drone Film Festival

Competition Highlights the State’s Investment in Supporting the Drone Corridor


The Great New York State Fair’s Drone Film Festival is now open for submissions. This is the third year of the competition that attracts filmmakers from around the world and highlights the state's investment in supporting the unmanned aerial vehicle industry. Entries in eight categories will be accepted through July 15 by upload to the festival’s website, here.

The drone competition complements Central NY Rising, the region's comprehensive strategy to grow the economy, which includes a focus on high-tech industries. Central New York and the Mohawk Valley are home to New York State's Drone Corridor, a 50-mile area devoted to cutting-edge research and development of the fast-growing drone industry.

“The unmanned aerial vehicle industry is growing rapidly in Central New York. This festival has helped to raise the profile of our Drone Corridor around the world and we are proud to bring it back for another year,” said Troy Waffner, Fair Director.

Winning films will be screened at a special event on Saturday, August 25 in the Empire Theater of the Art & Home Center during the 2019 Great New York State Fair.

There are eight submissions categories. Entry for most categories is $30, except for the category for corporate videos, which is $60, and for films made by students, which is $5. Most categories require that at least 50 percent of the film be shot using a drone or other unmanned aerial vehicle. Detailed rules can be found on the competition website, here. Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded in each category, with one gold winner selected by a panel of judges as Best In Show.

The 2018 competition attracted 74 entries from such places as Spain, Latvia, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands and from around the United States. The Best In Show winner, “Kingdom of the Wild” by Michael Bishop of California, took viewers on runs with wild animals herds in Namibia. Videos that won gold medals included views of the mountains of Alaska, a trip to a rarely-visited island, and an aerial tour of the beautiful regions of Upstate New York.


The Drone Corridor

New York State created the drone corridor in 2016, a 50-mile area of Central New York and the Mohawk Valley, with the intention of building on the region's long history with aviation and sensing systems to create a global hub for research, development and manufacturing of systems for unmanned aerial vehicles. The state connected companies that create software, equipment, and systems to the best minds in Central New York, including the region's colleges and universities, skilled manufacturers, military assets, and an FAA-approved test site—creating regional exponential growth in the unmanned aerial vehicle industry.

The development of the drone corridor is making Central New York an integral part of a trillion-dollar global industry, attracting business development and new drone technology to the state.


Accelerating CNY Rising

Today's announcement complements “Central NY Rising,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $5.6 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Central NY Rising with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs.


Founded in 1841, the Great New York State Fair is America’s third largest state fair. The Fair showcases the best of New York agriculture and provides top-quality entertainment. The 2019 Fair runs from August 21 to September 2. Information about the Fair can be found here.

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