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Trained sea lions perform at New York State Fair, 1999
Trained sea lions are an attraction at the New York State Fair, August 1999. Photo: Michael Okoniewski

New York State Fair

This state fair is the largest and most historic exposition of its kind in the Northeastern United States. With 107 structures and 21 permanent buildings on 375 acres of land adjacent to interstate highways, it is the largest and most accessible show in the state.

Each year, during twelve days, ending on Labor Day, nearly one million people flock to the fair. During the rest of the year, the facility hosts another million people for a variety of shows, such as concerts, expositions and conventions.

In 1841 the New York State legislature appropriated $8,000 for the "promotion of agriculture and household manufacturers in the state" through an annual fair, the first of its kind in the young nation. The Village of Syracuse, which was the center of farming in New York and well located on the Erie Canal and railroad lines, was selected for the two-day event. Despite rainy weather, the first fair attracted between 10,000 and 15,000 people, who were mostly farmers. The fair moved to different locales until Syracuse became its permanent home in 1890. Over the years, more entertainment activities have been added, such as auto racing and concerts that fill the 16,000-seat trackside grandstand.

The New York Fair continues to focus on the people and products of New York, with its main priority to serve the agricultural community. In 1999, fair organizers received more than 32,000 entries for competitions in categories ranging from cows, pigs, horses, sheep, llama, to photos, painting, flower arrangements, to apples pies, pumpkins, fruits and wines.

Documentation includes a text report, a video diskette holding photographs, color slides, and eight archival reproductions.

Originally submitted by: James T. Walsh, Representative (25th District).



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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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