What does the future hold for the New York State Fair now that the 2012 run is at an end? YNN's Bill Carey says the future is getting a lot of attention at the Fairgrounds outside Syracuse.
NEW YORK STATE FAIR -- The party is over. The 845,000 guests have left. Now, it's cleanup time. But even as midway ride operators and vendors were packing up, state fair officials were looking down the road, studying lessons learned from 2012.
The way people have gauged success at a New York State Fair, in the past, has been turnout. But the State Fair Director says that may not actually be the best way to gauge success.
“You know, you can look at a variety of metrics, but I think, the most important element, people were walking around were smiling. It was just a lot of fun. There was a lot of positive energy out there this year,” New York State Fair Director Dan O’Hara said.
Positive energy, but not as many guests as in past years. Much of that, O'Hara says, resulted from changes in the way unpaid attendance is counted. But the director says the overall turnout is still an important factor.
O'Hara said, “We have sponsors here at the Fair. And, you know, one of the most important things when you tell sponsors is you try to sell the venue. They're looking for the opportunity to connect with fairgoers. You know, they're branding, they're marketing their product.”
The biggest disappointment in 2012 came at the Grandstand where several nights, there were no acts at all. O'Hara says times have changed and not for the better when it comes to the big shows.
“You have to look at what works. What is the right mix? What type of entertainment are you bringing here? And the cost of that. And it's gotten expensive. And people just don't appear to have the disposable or discretionary income any longer to support a million dollar act,” said O’Hara.
O'Hara talks now of the possibility of a future overhaul of the Grandstand, something that could make a difference year round.
O'Hara said, “You're going to have the lake cleanup. You know, communities are going to start to be linked by way of a trail system. You have the Erie Canal. People can boat. You know, get water taxis going. This facility, really, with the right capital investment, I think, can be a strong economic engine for Upstate New York.”
Whether the state is prepared to spend the necessary funds and undertake major changes remains a question mark.