The New York State Fair in Syracuse continues breaking attendance records. More than 1.3 million people poured into the 13-day fair this year, the most ever.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo made his second stop at the fair this year to announce the news, punctuated by popping balloons and confetti.
Cuomo lauded a fair that’s broken the all-time attendance records four years in a row.
"This year New York became the number three most attended state fair in the United States. We’re not gonna stop until we are number one," Cuomo said.
The official attendance this year hit 1,329,275, breaking last year’s record by nearly 51,000.
The influx of people coincides with a $120 million state investment in the fairgrounds, and the extension of the fair from 12 to 13 days. It also comes at a time when the cost of admission dropped to $1 for nearly half of the days. Fair Director Troy Waffner said the money made has become less and less a part of the fair's budget.
"People think we’re crazy, but it’s just about getting people on the grounds buying stuff," Waffner said. "Because the average person spends something like $77 when they’re on the grounds, and that’s important."
If there were any issues this year, especially with the crowds, it was traffic and parking. Waffner admitted there could have been better signage for the new handicapped parking configuration, and some visitors had long waits for buses. He said those issues will be addressed in the offseason.
"We’re going to reconfigure the Gray Lot a little more to add parking back there," he said. "We’re going to pick up another 1,500 to 1,800 spots up on Willis Ave., so there’s a total of 3,600 spots up there when we get done, which is a really good relief valve, and we’re going to expand the park and ride lots where we can and push people that way."
As for the future, Waffner expects more investment in the 4-H horse barns and racing horse stalls in the rear of the fair.