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Heading to the State Fair? Here’s What You Need to Know
Back on campus and looking for something fun to do before the semester gets rolling? After missing last year because of the pandemic, the New York State Fair started Aug. 20 and runs through Labor Day at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.
Here’s what you should know if you’d like to attend the fair:
The fair will operate on the honor system and won’t require proof of vaccination. Unvaccinated visitors will be expected to wear masks and practice social distancing.
There are no limits on capacity indoors or outdoors. Masks are required for all visitors inside buildings, and masks will be available at the entrance of each building.
Fair officials have made several pandemic modifications: gates will open daily at 11 a.m., three hours later than previous years; indoor areas were designed to allow for more space between vendors and visitors; rides and games will be spread apart by an additional 15 feet to help with social distancing; and the larger free concerts were moved to Chevy Park, a 15-acre spot in the back of the fairgrounds, from 3-acre Chevy Court.
The fair will offer free COVID vaccinations and free rapid tests for fairgoers and vendors. Please check the New York State Fair website before going to the fair as the guidelines may change based on the most current information available.
Tickets and Parking
Admission to the fair is only $3—the lowest regular admission price of any major fair, according to fair officials. People 65 and over and children 12 and under are admitted for free every day of the fair. Tickets for SU students will be reduced to $1 for Labor Day weekend, Fair Director Troy Waffner told syracuse.com before the fair started.
Tickets and $5 vouchers for parking in the fair’s lots are available online through the fair’s official online ticket seller, Etix, or by calling Etix toll-free at 1.800.514.3849 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
There are no cash sales at the fair’s entrance gates or parking lots. Kiosks will be available at gates 1 and 10 for self-service use to purchase admissions. Large signs with QR codes will be at all gates so fairgoers can use their phones to link directly to the ticket purchase site. Drivers can pay for parking by credit card in each lot or by EZPass Plus in the Fair’s Orange and Brown lots. EZ Pass Plus is a free add-on to EZ Pass that allows it to be used to pay for parking in addition to highway tolls.
(Please note that with fees added, each admission ticket is $3.18 and each parking voucher is $5.23. Up to 20 tickets can be purchased at a time. And plan ahead: Etix says its call center is taking a very high volume of calls; customers who are asked to leave their names and phone numbers for a call-back will have their calls returned often within three hours but always within 24 hours).
For directions and a parking map, visit this New York State Fairgrounds webpage.
There are three Centro bus park-and-ride locations, with the downtown Centro hub and Destiny USA being the closest to campus. Those buses will run directly to the fair from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and the cost is $2 each way.
Visit the University’s campus shuttle webpage for information on Centro buses that stop at the Centro hub and Destiny USA. The University is also providing free shuttles from campus to the Fair over Labor Day weekend.
All concerts at the fair are free with admission and seating is first-come, first-served. The larger concerts are at Chevy Park in the back of the fairgrounds, and the smaller concerts will be held at Chevy Court in the front.
For rap fans, Syracuse native Scorey, will perform Aug. 27 at Chevy Park, YG will play Sept. 4 and Sheff G and Sleepy Hallow will perform Sept. 5. Other top acts include Noah Cyrus (Aug. 29), Third Eye Blind (Sept. 2) and Jesse McCartney (Sept. 5), along with and classic rockers REO Speedwagon (Aug. 25), The Beach Boys (Aug. 28), Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (Sept. 6) and Cheap Trick (Sept. 6).
Here’s the complete list of Chevy Park concerts, and here’s the complete list of Chevy Court concerts, which include such notable bands as the Dropkick Murphys (Aug. 29), Blue Oyster Cult (Sept. 1) and Blues Traveler (Sept. 3).
The Fair is known for its wide variety of don’t-worry-about-your-diet today food. While about 20 food and drink vendors are skipping this year’s fair, including longtime vendors, such as Tully’s and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, there will still be about 200 food vendors. New vendors include Syracuse restaurants Oh My Darling and Luna Loca, which will replace Tully’s in a prominent spot at the east end of the Midway.
In addition to the food and music, the fair features competitions for dairy cows, goats, horses and llamas, and several arts and agriculture competitions spread throughout the fairgrounds. For updated information about the fair and the latest COVID protocols, visit the New York State Fair website.