Assemblyman Al Stirpe: The State Fair is a Central New York Tradition

Some of my fondest summer memories are of time spent at the state fair, and each year, I look forward to making new memories with my family. In fact, my 89-year-old mother-in-law still goes to the fair every day. For her, the tradition is what’s important. While the fair has certainly stayed true to its roots, there is always something new to see, hear or taste. That’s why I’ll be heading down to the Great New York State Fair, Aug. 21 – Sept. 1. I invite you to join me. The iconic fair provides an opportunity for all of us to revisit old memories and make new ones as we celebrate “Summer’s Best in Show” – this year’s theme.

Recently named one of America’s Top State Fairs by Yahoo! Travel, the fair boasts concerts, midway rides, competitions, exhibits, food and fun for all ages – right here, in our backyard. It’s one of the largest agricultural fairs in North America and the oldest state fair in the country.1

In 1841, the fair was created as a way to promote agriculture. It was held in Syracuse and drew a crowd of around 15,000. Fairgoers sampled local goods, explored animal exhibits and even observed a plowing contest. Although the fair traveled between 1842 and 1889 to 10 other New York cities, it made its home here in 1889 when the Syracuse Land Co. donated a 100-acre piece of land for the fairgrounds. In 1899, the state purchased the grounds, making our area home to one of the nation’s most impressive agricultural showcases.2

True to its “Summer’s Best in Show” theme, this year’s state fair has a variety of great performers, including concerts by Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Kid Rock, Pitbull, Jason Aldean and Journey with Cheap Trick. What’s more, two shows each day will be free to patrons with their fair admission. The lineup includes The Doobie Brothers, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Smash Mouth, Kellie Pickler, Phillip Phillips and Jason Derulo. For more information, visit the fair’s website (

Additionally, the Taste NY tent will feature an assortment of New York’s finest food and beverages. Our very own Empire Brewing Co., based in Syracuse, is making a signature “Showstopper Ale” that will be available on tap at this year’s fair. Staying true to the spirit of Taste NY, the ale features local ingredients like pure Skaneateles Lake water, malted barley and hops and Empire's exclusive yeast.3 You won’t want to miss it!

Please mark your calendars for Friday, Aug. 29, which is Student’s Day at the fair. Students ages 16 and under will have free admission, and on Labor Day – Monday, Sept. 1 – adults can enjoy entry for just $1 as a part of the fair’s “Summer Send Off.” Finally, in what is perhaps the best news of all, you can now save time and money by purchasing advance sale tickets online for a discounted rate ( The last day to buy advance online tickets is Aug. 15.

As always, if you have any questions about this or any community issue, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at or 315-452-1115.

Also, if you can’t make it to the fair its current 375 acres is home to an entertainment complex that hosts events even after the fair’s end. For a listing of events, visit the fair’s website (