A Fair day…

The State Fair has been taking its share of lumps in recent weeks — from investigations of both how Peter Cappuccilli and Dan O’Hara have been running things, to an infestation of Justin Bieber fans. My Fairgoing has become spotty over the last few years, mainly because there always seems to be something crazy happening around this time lately. But I made it there today (and what a beautiful day it was) and thoroughly enjoyed myself, and also got to finally see some of the recent changes in action.

The good:

-It seems as if purveyors of tacky goods and services have been sent packing from many of the main Fair buildings, including the Center of Progress and International Pavilion. I think they’ve been shooed down to tents near Restaurant Row. The Center of Progress building seems easier to navigate now and features more New Yorky type stuff — booths for different counties and communities trying to sell themselves, and more historical societies — not just pols bragging about their good deeds.

-The International Pavilion has gotten a pretty fab interior re-do (shame about the restaurant fire there this year though). I never had a problem with it before, but it was so hard to navigate the food court area and find seating. Now there are attractive round wooden tables with benches, and elevated seating areas including a wine and beer area. This is probably the biggest actual facelift the Fair has seen in quite some time.

-Llamas every day now.

-The horse shows in the Coliseum seem to run better and move along more quickly, with pleasant music to accompany all the cantering and trotting. I don’t know about you, but plopping down in the Coliseum for a midday snack break to watch a random horse show is one of my personal Fair traditions. (I still wish they’d bring back the jumping competitions to the main venue, but possibly there were safety reasons for that.)

-Wine flowing a bit more freely at the restaurants. I didn’t have any today, but bought a bottle like a good patriotic New Yorker.

The bad:

-Chevy Court (I still can’t stop calling it Miller Court, which severely dates me) used to be a pretty laid-back venue, but is now a deadly serious musical happening. That’s not “bad,” but I’m not sure how I feel about all acts only doing one show a day now — the wildly popular Peter Noone could have packed in a second show on Senior Day, for example. I walked through the empty Court this morning and saw crowd control gates. Whoa.

-Centro’s shuttle buses insist on traveling on 690 and slowly plowing their way through main drag traffic when they could just quickly pop over there through Solvay. (I guess Solvay is having none of it.)

-Nobody is stepping up to make the Energy building (or whatever that place is now called – where the big corporations like Time Warner hang out) very interesting. Years ago, Niagara Mohawk packed in the crowds with annual documentary presentations on their weather emergency heroics like the North Country ice storm and the Labor Day Storm. Not any more. Snooze.

-Did I see $10 parking?!?

The Fair has definitely changed since I used to go every year… and I think mostly for the better. It’s a good sign when you can’t get to the main gate at the end of the day because a huge and lively crowd has gathered around a lone juggler.

Maybe the Fair-runners should keep that in mind when they are pondering their million-dollar concert bookings. It really doesn’t take much to amuse most people.

3 Replies to “A Fair day…”

  1. The change to the Center of Progress building came last year, and I love its openness but will admit to missing a few things I had gotten used to. Something I wish they’d do better is not have the same thing in two different places, even if there’s two different vendors.

    But the change to the International Pavilion was outstanding and unexpected. I was pleasantly surprised to see it and how clean and open it was, because that long table format just never worked. I went to the Fair twice, and I have to admit that I was a little upset the second time I went, the Sunday before Labor Day, and found that the Chinese restaurant was closed down.

    Overall, it was a great Fair year. But parking was only $5 for me; where do you park? lol

  2. One of my favorite new things is using EZPass for parking. I really think, however, that the blooming onions are not what they used to be, and the poultry display is down to one floor with way too many rabbits. Still, we went Day 1, which was excellent–good weather, reasonable crowds, and rides all day for the young ‘uns.

  3. Mitch, the $10 parking signs were up close to State Fair Blvd and I’m wondering now if it was privately owned space.

    KAZ, I also noticed that the Poultry Building seemed less cramped than usual, but I wasn’t sure I liked the “cleaner, more modern” feel. Didn’t notice less chickens. The chickens are the great spectacle of the Fair if you ask me. So smelly, so noisy, so faintly scary and bizarre.

    I was disappointed when I went to the PB because I had my camera with me and wanted to take a panoramic view from upstairs. You used to be able to go up there but they closed it off.

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