NEW YORK STATE FAIRGROUNDS (WSYR-TV) — Gianelli Sausage, the legendary State Fair vendor which also serves Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, will not return to the New York State Fair in 2021, the company confirms.
NewsChannel 9 was the first to report Gianelli’s decision on Wednesday morning, citing multiple sources involved in the stand’s operation.
Wednesday afternoon, the company posted a statement to its website: “We hang up our aprons with heavy hearts but also with many, many fond memories and most importantly a tremendous sense of gratitude to all the people who supported us over the years.”
The decision affects both stands at Chevy Court, including partner Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, and the Gianelli-only stand near the Midway.
The decision is not directly related to the coronavirus pandemic nor the uncertainty leading up to the 2021 Fair. Sources explain it’s been long considered for various reasons but the stress on the companies to staff an 18-day run is too much for the operation.
Additionally, the challenge of finding workers for the companies’ primary operations make it nearly impossible for the managers to divert staff to the Fairgrounds.
“Both Gianelli Sausage and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que have been dedicated to serving the diverse needs of our customers while navigating the increasing and changing demands of the times we are living in. We believe our focus and attention must remain with our core businesses,” read the statement
Gianelli is the primary operator of both stands. At the Chevy Court location, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que was also featured on the menu and provided some staff.
In an interview with NewsChannel 9, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que owner John Stage said he has “just enough” staff to keep his Willow Street restaurant open. “There’s no way we could spend 18 days at the Fair. I couldn’t image doing a Fair right (with limited staff).”
Workers of the stands were notified by a letter, according to some of those staff members.
The brand is so popular, its sausage sandwich has become a staple synonymous with the State Fair itself.
In addition to thousands of fairgoers, Gianelli sausage was a favorite of State Fair VIPs and elected leaders who visited.
President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton ordered from the stand during their Fair visit in 2000, when Clinton was running for Senate.
More recently, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul often sought out the stand on their visits.
In a statement to NewsChannel 9, State Fair Director Troy Waffner confirmed two other well-known vendors won’t be returning for the 2021 State Fair: Baker’s Chicken Coop and Haddock’s Paddock.
Waffner writes: “We thank them for their many years of dedication to fairgoers and the hard work they put in to help build our fair into one of the nation’s greatest and largest. These vendors will be greatly missed, but they are welcome to return at any point in the future.”
Waffner reminds Fair fans that Gianelli-brand sausage will be available from other food vendors.
The State Fair’s 18 days open on August 20.