Proposal to lengthen State Fair could force multi-fair vendors to make a choice

Local News

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB-TV) – A proposal to lengthen the New York State Fair is causing concern at county fairgrounds across the state.

The additional five days, included in Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget would cause the State Fair to overlap with as many as eight other fairs, including one of New York’s largest in Erie County.

The expansion, if approved by the State Legislature would run from August 21-September 7, would cause a three-day overlap with the Erie County Fair which runs from August 12-23.

Vendors outside of Syracuse who travel to both fairs every summer may have to make a choice this summer: attend one fair or the other, or figure out how to attend both.

Erie County Fair CEO and Manager Jessica Underberg feels vendors shouldn’t be put in this position, especially not six months out, when most traveling vendors plan their routes a year or more in advance.

“It impacts the business model of people who plan on that revenue,” said Underberg. “So if they have to choose between us and the State Fair, that’s a significant decrease, one way or another – whichever fair they choose – in their revenue.”

James Staub, who has been running ‘Jim’s Tacos’ at the Erie County Fair says if approved, he’ll have to figure something out. Staub’s father also runs ‘Jim’s Fries’ at the New York State Fair.

“We don’t want to lose either fair, so we’re going to try to do what we can do, and we’re going to try to make both work somehow,” said Staub. “Both are strong fairs.”

Underberg added it’s not just food vendors who are affected. “Livestock exhibitors, a lot them qualify in a county fair and then go on to show at the state fair, or a lot of the open class live exhibitors, non-youth, show at both.”

State Fair Director Troy Waffner, however, doesn’t think the additional five days will be a big problem.

“I think you’ll still see 99 percent of the vendors come to our fair, which I don’t think hurts Erie County. I think it means most of those vendors, who are professional concessioners, put another wagon in the field to be able to cover both events,” said Waffner.

But Underberg says it’s not just Erie County. The change would affect eight county fairs across the state.

“Fairs are the showcase of agriculture in the state…we need to figure out a way to make that easier, not harder,” said Underberg.

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