SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — People connected to state government don’t expect Troy Waffner to return as Director of the New York State Fair after an extended absence, they confirm to NewsChannel 9.
Over the past few weeks, vendors of the State Fair have expressed concern they can’t reach Waffner with less than 100 days until the 2022 event. The vendors, who asked not to be named because of their financial dependence on the State Fair, say they’ve been told Waffner is taking a temporary leave.
The leave was expected to last six weeks, some were told. It’s now been eight weeks since Waffner was last seen or heard from in an official capacity.
Sources confirm to NewsChannel 9 that Waffner has been absent from the job since March.
“Troy requested leave and the agency is honoring that request,” a State Fair spokesperson says in response to NewsChannel 9’s reporting.
Barbara Godfrey, listed as the Fair’s supervisor of agency accounts, has been overseeing day-to-day operations, according to people familiar with the situation. The job of “assistant director” was recently posted on employment websites.
Messages to Waffner from NewsChannel 9 went unreturned dating back to mid-March. An email sent to his address on April 5 received an autoreply: “I am temporarily out of the office with no access to email.”
After serving as assistant director and “acting director,” Waffner was given the full job by Governor Andrew Cuomo the day after the 2018 Fair. His popularity among vendors and locally based state lawmakers inspired people to publicly support his promotion.
Those same people are expressing disappointment he isn’t expected return. Vendors are concerned about the lack of leadership at the State Fair as summer brings the climax of planning for the late August event.
Waffner oversaw the Fair and Fairgrounds through its multimillion-dollar renovation, demolition of the Grandstand, construction of the Expo Center, the 2020 pandemic cancellation and the 2021 mass vaccination site. His tenure is credited with breaking numerous attendance records.
Text messages and phone calls to Waffner were not answered.
The Fair is scheduled to run for 13 days: August 24 through September 5, 2022