SYRACUSE, NY — Just one week after vendors, exhibitors, animal owners, and The Midway operator packed up to go onto their next adventures, The Fairgrounds is ready to resume its role as a year-round destination as it welcomes the New York State Horse Society’s Annual Regional Horse Show, which stepped into town today. As our team reads through feedback provided by fairgoers (there’s still time to take our survey, linked here) and dive into planning for next year’s Fair, the Department of Agriculture and Markets and the State Fair division want to thank the 932,699 patrons who passed through the gates, and recognize the work of state agencies and other partners who helped deliver a memorable experience for all visitors, exhibitors, vendors, and others.
The following statistics solidify the Fair’s established presence as a hub of entertainment and support its status as a showcase of the best of New York State agriculture, food, and beverage, as an entertainment destination, and host of fun, family friendly experiences.
“For 175 years, The Fair has showcased the very best of New York agriculture, while providing an inclusive, family-family forum for fairgoers. The strength of this New York tradition is felt by all who passed through the gates during the 2023 Fair,” said NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball. “In anecdotes, we can measure this through the number of smiles seen on faces, the number of selfies taken with animals and the exciting new Dinosaur exhibit, the number of meals eaten at The Fair, and the number of thrills experienced on The Midway.”
“We hope these statistics help to tell stories of the many happy memories made at the Great New York State Fair this summer in ways that we all can relate to,” said Fair Director Sean Hennessey. “From partnering state agencies, to Fair staff, vendors, exhibitors, and patrons – we’d like to thank all who have a role in making those memories special.”
Flavorful New York State
Year after year, fairgoers rave about the showcase of food presented at the Great New York State Fair, and they say it’s one of the things they miss most throughout the year. In addition to trying creative, innovative fried concoctions, each Fair presents ample opportunities to buy and sample some of the best homegrown and homemade New York food and beverage products from across the state:
272,055 cups of perfectly chilled milk were poured at The New York State Milk Bar, operated by Cornell Cooperative Extension. Chocolate Milk continues to be the most popular selection. An estimated 11,900 gallons of Chocolate Milk were poured over the course of 13 days in the Dairy Products Building. By comparison, 1,575 gallons of White Milk and approximately 1,415 gallons of Strawberry Milk were poured.
The Taste NY Pop-Up Market, relocated to the space across from the Pure New York Maple Center, showcased 140 products from more than 40 vendors. Here, fairgoers rediscovered beloved flavors, found new favorites, and even shopped for gifts. The proof is in the 1,857 transactions tracked at the Pop-Up Market. New to The Fair this year, to coincide with its 10th Anniversary Celebration, Taste NY introduced the Tasting Yard positioned at Suburban Park. In The Fair’s 13-days, seven breweries from around the state poured 2,800 pints for concert-goers.
Across the Horticulture Building, the New York Pure Maple Booth was also a popular destination, where 3,800 pounds of Maple Syrup was used to make favorite treats, including Maple Ice Cream (11,625 cones and dishes were served!), Popcorn (1,400 bags were sold!), and Maple Sugar candies (1,100 pounds were sold!). Patrons purchased 143-dozen Maple frosted donuts, 1,000 Maple lollypops, 5,000 bags of Maple Cotton Candy, and 400 packages of Maple Dog Biscuits for their furry family members.
Agriculture, Animals and Education
Agriculture is an integral component of The Great New York State Fair. Through Agriculture Career Day – which aims to get students excited about career opportunities in agricultural fields – and exciting activities like the “Career Challenge” – an interactive, educational scavenger hunt – it’s estimated that 209 young leaders learned more about the industry. This represents a 33% increase over the number of participants in 2022.
The Agriculture Office at the State Fair filed more than 10,000 competitive entries for youth, animals, flower, produce, and fine arts competitions.
Other highlights include:
34 new “uddermiracles,” or baby calves, were introduced to the world at the Dairy Cattle Birthing Center. The Center is celebrating its 10th anniversary at The Fair this year. Including the 18 bulls and 16 heifers born during the 2023 Fair, The Center has welcomed more than 350 baby calves into the world.
4,200 pounds of compost was donated to the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA), from participating restaurants in The Eatery Building. Vendors had the ability to opt in to this first-of-its kind program.
312 animal themed State Fair t-shirts were sold at State Park at The Fair. The Fair launched a pilot program to sell merchandise, and its line of animal-themed t-shirts featuring cows, goats, and llamas sporting funny sayings, sold out. Stay tuned! An official merch store could be in The Fair’s future!
Star Power and Musical Acts
World class entertainment brought big crowds once again to Chevy Court and Suburban Park as part of the Chevrolet Music Series, featuring 46 nationally known performers and two acclaimed shows – Peppa Pig Live! and Disney Jr. – geared toward young audiences. Suburban Park, formerly known as Chevy Park, earned the distinction of being recognized as the largest concert venue in Central New York after it hosted the largest audience ever experienced at The Fair. On Opening Day, August 23, 53,000 people lined the lawn and surrounded the pond area at Suburban Park to watch Lainey Wilson. True to tradition, as reported in Syracuse.com, Hip Hop, Country and Rock and Roll shows continued to attract the largest crowds. Following the Lainey Wilson show, Ludacris (with an estimated attendance of 39,400), REO Speedwagon (drawing an estimated 34,000 people), and Yung Gravy and bbno$ (attracting an estimated 30,000 people) also drew audiences of upwards of 30,000.
Still, there’s more to The Fair’s musical offerings and performances than what is seen at Chevy Court and Suburban Park stages:
Factoring in ground entertainment acts, plus approximately 60 scheduled acts at the newly introduced Asian Village, 47 performing acts at Pan African Village, 18 performances at Latino Village, and a variety of live music acts scheduled at permanent food stands including Sud’s Courtside Grill, The West End, and Shamrock, The Fair hosted 474 unique events over 13 days.
This number also includes 97 performances in the Empire Theater, 33 performances in the Grange Building, and 11 competitions held on the Talent Showcase Stage.
Talent Showcase and Regional Showcase returned to The Fair for the first time since 2019. Ten New York counties – Allegany, Chenango, Erie, Herkimer, Onondaga, Ontario, Oswego, St. Lawrence, Wayne and Wyoming – sent hometown youth performers who wound up in the Top 10 for their age groups in the Talent Showcase. Meanwhile, The Regional Showcase stage hosted ten performers representing several New York regions, including Central New York, the Mohawk Valley, and the Southern Tier.
Wade Shows’ Midway, featuring two new rides and a refurbished favorite, also proved to be a big draw for families. According to Wade Shows, ridership was at an all-time high from a revenue perspective. Advance sales doubled over what was sold in 2022 and online sales tripled. Wade Shows also reports awarding more than 50,000 prizes throughout The Fair’s 13-day run.
Centro Bus, which provides shuttle service to and from the Fair from Downtown Syracuse and two Park-N-Ride locations, and the Fair’s tram service, which offers nine stops positioned around the perimeter of the grounds, helped hundreds of thousands of patrons navigate transportation.
Centro’s ridership was up 26% over 2022. An estimated 179,373 Central New Yorkers used Centro buses to travel to and from the Fairgrounds. Centro provided 135,271 one-way rides from its Park-N-Ride locations at Destiny USA, Downtown Bus Hub, and Long Branch Park to The Fair.
The Fair’s Tram Service provided 1,898 rides throughout the Fair, carrying fairgoers 3,796 miles. To put this into perspective, this is the equivalent of driving from Syracuse, NY to Miami, FL – three times!
The New York State Police report keys, wallets, and cell phones are the most popular items in its Lost and Found Collection. Right now, 50 items are waiting to be claimed including 19 phones, 15 wallets, several glasses, as well as bags, purses, and keys. Last year at this time, there were 320+ items in the State Police’s “Lost and Found.” Patrons who believe they may have lost something at the Great New York State Fair are encouraged to call the North Syracuse State Police Barracks at 315-455-2826 during normal business hours.
The Fair continues to collect feedback on fair experiences and welcomes perspective from all who attended this year’s run. A link to participate in the survey is provided here. Participants will have an opportunity to win lifetime admission to the Fair and one of several $100 Amazon gift cards. Feedback provided will help Fair staff inform future programming and events.
Now just 343 days away, the Great New York State Fair returns for its 2024 presentation – and 176th occurrence – on Wednesday, August 21. Founded in 1841, the Great New York State Fair showcases the best of New York agriculture, provides top-quality entertainment and is a key piece of the state’s CNY Rising strategy of growing the Central New York economy through tourism. It is the oldest state fair in the United States, and consistently ranks among the Top Five state fairs in the country.
The New York State Fairgrounds is a 375-acre exhibit and entertainment complex that operates all year. Audiences are encouraged to learn more about the Great New York State Fair online, and follow the fun on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Guests are invited to see photos from the Fair on Flickr.
News release Sept. 13, 2023