Stirpe: Drone films and craft beer competitions add fun to New York State Fair

Al Stirpe

One of Central New York’s – and New York State’s – most exciting traditions is the Great New York State Fair. This year, with one day added, visitors can attend the fair between Aug. 23 and Sept. 4, giving us all more time to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and fun it has to offer. We’ve come a long way from its beginnings in 1841, when the fair lasted for only two days. And no wonder – last year, the fair saw a record attendance of 1.1 million visitors.

There’s always something new at the fair, and this year is no different. It’s the first year of the Drone Film Festival, a competition featuring video captured from drones and shot and produced by amateur and professional filmmakers in eight categories. Entry categories include: Corporate/Industrial/Business, Healthcare, Landscape & Architecture, Narrative, NYS Drones, Showreel, Sports and Student, as well as a Best in Show prize. The winning film will be screened in an evening ceremony.

Another new competition also puts the spotlight on an emerging New York State industry: craft brewing. The NYS Craft Brew Competition will feature various styles of beer like IPA, lager, sour and many more. Awards will be given to the best 20 beers in different categories, and the highest-scoring beer will receive the Governor’s Excelsior Cup. Fairgoers will have the opportunity to sample entries and attend seminars hosted by participating breweries.

As it does every year, the fair will feature national and internationally recognized performers every night at Chevy Court and other venues; interesting displays; samples and demonstrations; a variety of food and the exciting rides and games of the Midway, which has been expanded to allow for even more fun. With last year’s state investment of $50 million, a new main gate has been erected to better accommodate the attendees, and a new Ferris wheel showcases our beautiful Central New York scenery.

I recognize the importance of the State Fair to our local economy, and the recent addition of ride-hailing services upstate will help more visitors get to the fair and other area attractions. We’re also looking forward to improvements slated for 2018 that will make the fair even more visitor-friendly and help local tourism year-round.

The state is investing $20 million toward stripping and paving the orange parking lot for a more usable and efficient parking experience for fair attendees as well as for events at the Lakeview Ampitheater. New E-ZPass parking lanes will make paying for parking easier and quicker, and a new I-690 on-ramp will help ease traffic congestion.

These upgrades will improve safety for visitors and reduce wait times. In addition, a new event expo center will be an invaluable addition to the fairgrounds, which hosts many other events besides the State Fair.

For more information and tickets for the upcoming New York State Fair, please visit I hope to see you there! As always, if you have any questions or concerns, contact me at or by calling 315-452-1115.

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