Hopefully the rain forecast for the next few days in Geddes won’t dampen people’s enthusiasm for the opening of the Great New York State Fair this week.
The fair will be held from Aug. 21 through Sept. 2 just west of Syracuse, and it’s worth a visit. Hours of operation will be from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. except for Labor Day, when gates will close at 9 p.m.
“Fair Director Troy Waffner and his crew have made numerous improvements to the fairgrounds and are adding new things to see for the 2019 fair. In addition to new items at the fair, the 13-day event includes many highlights that people enjoy year after year. Those include the many animal barns where people can see and touch farm animals (beef and dairy cows, pigs, goats, horses, poultry, llamas) from across the state and even talk to the farmers about the animals. And yes, in the swine barn there will be numerous sows with lots of piglets to see,” according to a story published Aug. 14 by the Watertown Daily Times. “In the Dairy Products Building are two of the most popular attractions on the fairgrounds — the butter sculpture and the Milk Bar with cups of white or chocolate milk for just 25 cents. Be sure to check out the Agricultural Museum to see displays of how things were done in yesteryears, the Horticulture Building filled with beekeepers, maple producers and apple producers and the ever popular baked potatoes. The bovine moms-to-be will be back to give birth live in the Dairy Cow Birthing Center located in the Family Fun Zone near the Youth Building.”
Each year, the Great New York State Fair builds on its reputation as one of the premier events in the nation. Organizers have had ample time to improve it.
The initial state fair in New York — the oldest one in the United States — was held in 1841, according to information from the Great New York State Fair’s website. From 1842 to 1849, the fair traveled between 11 communities including Watertown. It found a permanent home in Geddes in 1889, 130 years ago.
What began as a two-day event in 1841 expanded to 14 days in 1938 and back to six days by 1948. The annual fair wasn’t held between 1942 and 1947 because the fairground in Geddes was used as a military base during World War II.
It was extended to nine days by the end of the 1950s, 10 days in 1978 and to its 12 days in 1990. The fair now spans 13 days.
From an entertainment perspective, the fair has always responded to people’s choice in music for the times. A performance by Sonny and Cher in 1972 broke attendance records for a concert.
This was bested in 2010 by Lady Antebellum and then in 2011 by Bruno Mars. Musical acts last year included rock ’n’ roll legends Lynyrd Skynyrd, Herman’s Hermits and Kansas.
One of the true staples of the fair, however, is the livestock competitions. The agricultural industry is an integral part of life in rural New York, and these shows demonstrate the commitment people make to raising quality farm animals.
The Great New York State Fair is an excellent tradition, and we encourage readers to take advantage of everything it has to offer. There may be a few raindrops here and there, but hearty New York residents are always up for a challenge! Visit https://nysfair.ny.gov/ for more information.