The Great New York State Fair kicks off in one week; here’s what’s different this year

New York State Fair

GEDDES, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — In exactly one week, the gates to the Great New York State Fair will officially open.

It will be the longest event of its kind yet, but in the middle of this wave of COVID-19, it may not feel like the fair you’re used to. So, what’s different?

Fair Director Troy Waffner is scrambling to put on his own version of the super bowl, only scaled back ever so slightly this year.

“We’re going to do everything we can within the guidelines to make it a great and safe fair,” he said.

This year, vendors will be more spread out than years past, masks are now required for everyone inside any building on the fairgrounds regardless of their vaccination status, the vaccine clinic will stay operational, and rapid testing will be offered.

“It’s gonna be the same fair, same touch and feel of it. The biggest difference honestly is we’re going cashless in our parking lots and our gates.”

troy waffner

You can pay in advance or bring a credit card to pay the day of.

They’ve also made changes to accessibility parking, which raised several complaints in 2019.

We’re moving the Park-N-Rides back to Gate 1. So, we’ll have 600 spots out in the Gray Lot again and then we’ll have another five or 600 over in the Pink Lot. We’ve done a lot of paving listening to the concerns over there that were raised.

Troy Waffner, Fair Director

There will also be more picnic tables on the property so people can space out while they eat. Concerts will be split between the Chevy Court Stage and Chevy Park Stage, so larger crowds have more room.

Waffner says he is in contact with the state and the county, ready to make more changes if they need to.

As for the fair getting canceled? He doesn’t see that as a possibility right now.

“We haven’t heard any talk to that point. I think you may see some heightened restrictions or guidelines that we’ll have to follow but nobody’s really talked about canceling it [NYSF] yet.”

troy waffner

When asked about what he would say to people who don’t think it’s safe to have a fair right now, this was Waffner’s response:

“You know, I would say to people it’s an individual decision. Right now, we’ve been told we can have a fair. We’re planning for the best and safest fair. If you’re not comfortable then certainly you don’t have to come.”

If you are going, he hopes you’ll be respectful of those around you by keeping some distance and following the mask mandate inside the fair buildings.

“It’s kind of a soft opening for a lack of better description and you know, that way we’re up and going again. We’ll plan all the crazy stuff in 2022,” said Waffner.

If you need to get a COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccination clinic will be running throughout the NYSF from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Art and Home Center. It will be the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

They’re also offering voluntary rapid testing for fairgoers in the Art and Home Center.

Waffner says they will have on-site COVID testing for employees and vendors.

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