STATE FAIRGROUNDS (WSYR-TV) — Being focused on getting inside the New York State Fair, it’s easy for people to not notice the team of State Troopers on the outside making sure they get there safely.

Trooper John Pukalo grew up going to the Erie County Fair, but hadn’t been to the State Fair until he was assigned to the 100-year-old tradition.

“This was the first detail that the State Police ran. To come here and experience it at least once in your career was something I personally wanted to do,” said Trooper Pukalo. 

He’s back for a second year, making sure people flocking to the fair on foot and vehicles up and down State Fair Boulevard are safely separated.

Trooper Pukalo says there are close calls every single year.

“Mostly it’s just distraction,” he told NewsChannel 9. “Either a pedestrian not paying attention or a driver not paying attention.”

He asks everyone to take five extra seconds to be aware of their surroundings when coming into the Fair.

After a long day of keeping New Yorkers safe, he joins them! He says he has seen many concerts already this year including Jimmie Allen, Foreigner, The Jackson’s, and Great White.  

“After I’m done with my shift, I go get changed and check on the concerts….They offer so many great things inside the Fair. It’s a shame not to take advantage of what they offer,” says Trooper Pukalo. 

With relationships between police and communities strained, Trooper Pukalo uses his visible role to show New Yorkers he’s here to protect and serve.