The New York State Fairgrounds sign in Syracuse. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

SYRACUSE — Despite its cancellation due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Friday a full slate of special events and activities for this year’s virtual edition of the Great New York State Fair.

New York’s state fair — the oldest and third largest state fair in the nation — was canceled last month as the pandemic held its grip on the nation. On April 28, it was suggested that the fair wasn’t going to proceed, but a final decision hadn’t been made at that point.

“The Great New York State Fair is a cherished tradition for which many New Yorkers build their summer vacations and travel plans around,” Gov. Cuomo said in a prepared statement. “Though COVID-19 has postponed our great Fair, New Yorkers have found a way to put a new spin on this 178-year long tradition to continue to virtually enjoy the Fair during these challenging times.”

Until its 2021 return, state fair fans can eat their favorite fair food at a drive-thru at the fairgrounds, experience virtual visits to farms, as well as live stream the unveiling of the fair’s famous annual butter sculpture. Upon its completion on Sept. 1, the American Dairy Association North East will release a time-lapse video of the butter sculpture being built.

Those in search of state fair food can visit the fair’s Orange Lot on weekends through the Labor Day holiday. Several fair vendors have come together to offer drive-thru food service and socially distanced drive-in movies in the evenings, a release from the governor’s office said.

Other online activities include various contests and virtual celebrations to mark various fair traditions. A full list of contests the fair will hold this year are available on the fair’s Facebook page at

“We know that people are going to miss the Fair this year,” New York State Fair Director Troy Waffner said. “We’ve received so many phone calls, emails and text messages from people for whom the Fair is a tradition. We know these activities won’t replace the Fair but will remind us all of why we love the Fair and keep us going until we can meet again.

“ assured, we are using this time to plan the greatest Fair in our long history.”

The fair will also be marking the centennial celebration of women’s suffrage with photos of the suffrage movement in New York, including an effort at the state fair.

The 18-day fair, which draws more than 1 million visitors to the Syracuse area each year, was scheduled for Aug. 21 through Sept. 7 at the state fairgrounds in the town of Geddes, Onondaga County.

This is the second time the fair has been canceled since its founding in 1841. The state fair was canceled from 1942 to 1948 as the fairgrounds were used as a military training facility during World War II.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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