The New York State Fair got lucky with its new 13-day run, thanks to picture-perfect, non-muggy weather dominated mostly by azure-blue skies, except for some pesky rainy conditions on Sunday, Sept. 3. The impressive turnout was also aided by several days when admission was only a dollar, as attendance handily cruised past the 1 million mark. Which, of course, meant occasional sellouts at the baked potato and 25-cent milk fair stops.
There were some glitches along the way, such as the decision to discontinue the daily programs that used to be available at all entry points. Instead there were simple printouts of listings found at guest relations spots sprinkled throughout the fairgrounds, but many fairgoers did not know of their existence.
That might explain why it seemed like Hilby the Skinny Juggler Boy had joined the witness protection program. Many fans couldn’t find him after he was relocated from the Chevy Court perimeter to the wheelchair basketball court near the Coliseum. For that matter, cnycentral meteorologist Wayne Mahar was apparently grounded since no flying discs were hurled after the evening newscasts.
But plenty of things went decisively right this year, as the fair fixed a number of wrongs that happened in 2016. Last year’s bumpy gravel toward the west end resembled something encountered on the Oregon Trail, but new paving took care of that problem.
Curiously, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was not at the fair to hail the attendance record on Labor Day, as he did last year when he sledgehammered a celebratory block of ice. Yet before the Labor Day concert commenced with Kool and the Gang, acting director Troy Waffner and his crew took their bows in front of a jammed Chevy Court. Waffner has often sidestepped praise, citing that putting the fair together is truly a team effort. Given the record-setting attendance, however, maybe it’s time for the governor to take “acting” from Waffner’s director title, because what he’s accomplishing is certainly not an act.
— Bill DeLapp