Governor hopes to expand year-round use of the fairgrounds following $50 million renovation
The 2016 New York State Fair, which ended on Labor Day, has generated the highest level of attendance in its 175-year history, shattering numerous records over the course of its twelve day run, according to the Governor’s Office.
As of 4 p.m. Monday, a record 1,096,524 visitors passed through the Fair’s main gate, beating the previous record of 1,011,248 set in 2001.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo marked the record by shattering a block of ice in the shape of the previous record at a celebration in the Fair’s Empire Room. The governor also presented four lifetime passes and a host of Fair-related gifts to record-setting visitor number 1,011,249 from Onondaga County.
“We set a goal for the Fair — one million people to come and experience the unprecedented transformation, and we not only met it, but soared past it,” Cuomo said.
The Fair has posted the strongest daily attendance figures in its history, setting three new daily attendance records on its way to breaking the total attendance record. When final numbers are in after the gates close tonight for the 2016 season, attendance will have risen by at least 20 percent above last year’s attendance and as much as 10 percent above the all-time high, set in 2001.
The Fair generates approximately $100 million annually for the local economy, and employs more than 2,800 people while under way.
Two weeks ago, Cuomo celebrated opening day with a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking a $50 million revitalization of the fairgrounds, which may have helped drive this year’s record-setting attendance by enhancing the experience for guests.
The upgrades include a new Main Gate, which is reminiscent of the carriage gate that greeted fairgoers in 1900, more open spaces, walking paths and landscaping throughout the grounds, additional seating and shade, a larger and newly reconfigured midway, a new 315-site Empire RV Park and underground infrastructure improvements.
The home of the Great New York State Fair is a 375-acre exhibit and entertainment complex that operates all year. The Cuomo Administration is looking to expand the number and types of events held at the fairgrounds year-round.