More people visited the 2017 edition of the New York State Fair in Geddes than any other. A total of 1,161,912 million visitors came to the fair during its 13-day run, breaking the overall attendance record set last year.
There have been a lot of changes at the fairgrounds in the Town of Geddes in the last few years as New York State has pumped millions of dollars into revitalizing the facility, including a most recent $50 million state investment in the fairgrounds. And fairgoers have noticed.
“They do something every year. They do something to try to improve it," said one visitor. "The way they are getting in the cars for parking, they’ve opened it up.”
A better marketing plan that went into effect four years ago is one reason the fair is getting better crowds, with more than 1 million visitors now two years in a row. That, along with popular entertainment and lower admission prices on certain days, means more repeat customers are coming through the turnstiles.
“And some of that is ‘we’re done with work, the fair’s open for five more hours. Let’s come in and have a beer, grab dinner and wander around,’" said Acting Fair Director Troy Waffner. "And you have the ones that come back because you can’t do the fair in one day anymore. When we opened up the 63 acres of land, we really made the fair big.”
In addition to the overall attendance record being set this year, the daily attendance record was broken on August 27, then broken again on Monday, with more than 124,000 people visiting the fair. All those visitors resulted in some traffic problems, especially with significant delays on August 27. Waffner said officials were able to learn from that experience going forward.
“From the first Sunday when Lynyrd Skynyrd and Earth, Wind and Fire played to today, we’ve totally changed our traffic plan,” said Waffner. “There’s better communication about moving lots and balancing park and rides."
Vendors like Tom Whelan were happy with the way the new and improved fair played out.
“They’re getting the people in and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.