The Great New York State Fair

When it comes to fairs, I happen to be biased, like extremely biased, and I only consider there to be one fair that’s worth visiting and that’s the Great New York State Fair. Now you might be thinking to yourself, “The fair ended weeks ago, why is she writing about it just now!?!?!” Well, there is reason behind my late post, it’s because the first New York State Fair was held in 1841 on September 29 and 30, which means for those of you quick at math, the Great New York State Fair is celebrating it’s 175th birthday yesterday and today!

On the other hand, there’s probably a group of you reading this thinking your own state or county fair is waaaaaayyyyy better than the Great New York State Fair, maybe it is… though probably not. Anyways, here’s a photo of me at the State Fair in the first year of my life, I’ve basically been to the fair every year of my life, which is probably why I’m all about the Great New York State Fair.

This photo is from August 1990….I was like about 8 months old. This is reason why I consider the Great New York State Fair, the only fair to visit. Blame my parents.

So now for some historical information! The New York State Fair website has a really great time line of the what went down at the Fair every year and it’s development since 1841.All of the history that proceeds, comes from that website

The cool thing about the Great New York State Fair is that its the oldest fair in the country. The New York State Agricultural Society held the first Fair in Syracuse in 1841 and the fair consisted of speeches, animal exhibits, a very popular plow contest, and even samples of manufactured foods for the home and farm. The attendance numbers were estimated to be somewhere between 10,000-15,000 people.

The other exciting thing about the early years of the State Fair is that it traveled around New York for example 1842 saw the Fair in Albany. Between 1842 and 1889 other cities the Fair visited included: Auburn, Buffalo, New York City, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Utica, and even Watertown! The Fair stopped traveling around the State in 1889 because at that time the Syracuse Land Co. donated a 100 acre tract of land for the Society to use permanently for the Fair in Geddes, NY.

Between 1889 and the late 1890’s the Agricultural Society worked on constructing permanent buildings on the land because of the costs the Society soon was in debt. When this happened, the State purchased the ground in 1899 and began to manage the Fair and the State made a long-term building plan, the first building being constructed in 1908 (today’s Center of Progress Building). During the following two decades other permanent buildings and attractions were completed such as the Coliseum in 1923, the Iroquois Village in 1928, and the Arts and Home Center in 1932.

Image from the Syracuse Union for the State Fair, September 9, 1915
This is another image from the Syracuse Union, which was actually a German newspaper. This image comes from August 5, 1915.
A map from June 1918 that was printed in the Syracuse Union.

The Fair has went through a number of changes throughout it’s history especially in regards to it’s name and how long the Fair lasts during the summer. Up until 1938, the Fair had been referred to as the New York State Fair, then the name was changed to the New York State Agricultural and Industrial Exposition and it lasted for 14 days! From 1942 until 1947, there was no State Fair; the grounds were used as a military base during World War 2. The Fair made a return for 6 days in 1948. In the 1960’s the name of the Fair changed from the New York State Exposition to the New York State Fair. The Fair increased to 10 days in 1978 and then finally in 1990 was increased to the 12 days in length, which is how long it currently lasts.

Most recently, the New York State Fair has been going through a $50 million redevelopment that includes new utilities, the removal of the Grand Stand, more RV parking, a new main entrance, and a larger midway. For more information of the Great New York State Fair check out their website: All of the historical information about the fair came from this website and there is a lot more information on the redevelopment of the Fair.

The following are images from my visit this year to the Fair.


If you have any comments or questions about the Great New York State Fair, leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading! More blog posts to come soon!






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