I hadn’t been to the New York State Fair since 2019. Truthfully, I didn’t think I’d ever go to the Fair again. Yet, not only did I just up and go to the Fair on Friday the 26th on a whim, but I ended up going the next day as well, after being invited by my friends Scott and Merrie.

It seems I picked the right day to go the first time. For one day the heat wave we’d been going through dissipated and it was a beautiful day weather wise, even if there were moments of drizzle, which I didn’t mind. I went early afternoon, leaving the house a little after 1PM and was able to drive right into the Fairgrounds, although there was an immediate change. Turns out that both parking and getting a ticket to go into the Fair were cashless, and of course I brought cash thinking things would be like they always were. Eventually the kid took my credit card, which he also hadn’t expected since, I guess, lots of people knew to buy their parking passes and tickets online. Who’d have thought I needed to do research on going to the Fair?

For the first time in all the years I’ve gone, I got a parking space about a tenth of a mile from the entrance; that was fantastic! Then it took me 3 or 4 minutes to figure out how to get a ticket because… cashless… and I thought the process was a bit cumbersome. Still, I got the ticket, went in, and the picture above is the first one I took… which I also did in 2019. I knew something had changed, but I couldn’t put my finger on it initially.


The two pictures above shocked me a bit, but at least I understood what was going on. The Midway has been segregated into its own space, which isn’t a bad thing in my opinion. Still, I probably should have taken a walk through just to see if there was anything familiar in there. I haven’t been on any kind of ride since the day I turned 30 back in 1969, and I knew that wasn’t ever happening again. Still, I wondered the next day, when I was walking around for the second time looking for a tent that might have someone selling State Fair t-shirts (which I never found), I wondered if maybe something other than just rides might be in there. The pictures above were the closest I got to going inside.


I have to admit that I felt a bit disoriented because there were a lot of changes since I’d last gone. I went into my walking/stalking mode, basically walking straight, taking a lot of side glances to take in some of the changes while pushing forward. They had moved a lot of things around, so the first thing I encountered was the NY State Police exhibit, where guys were about to jump off a platform.

I didn’t stop, just kept walking until I got into the first building, which is the one that used to be mainly flowers, china, and other things I’m normally not all that interested in. The disinterest stayed with me as I walked around, noticing that the “baked potato for a dollar” booth had moved, the fried fish place was gone, and there weren’t as many ancillary products being sold. I walked out of that building and into the one next to it, which I’m the most familiar with. I call it the arts and crafts building because you have paintings, pictures, trains, quilts, and a lot of other things that highlight people’s talent and, yeah I’ll say it, toys. lol

However, there were things missing this time that I usually love to take a look at. I got to see the quilts, my favorite in the picture above, but there were fewer pictures and paintings, fewer quilts because the lower floors were shut down (maybe they opened them for the next weekend), no trains, and I didn’t see the collection of player pianos anywhere. On the main floor there were fewer people than normal selling plastic products and make up products… in general terms, it felt a bit sedated, and I probably spent the least amount of time ever walking through the building, seeing what I saw and then finally walked out… maybe 10 minutes, if that.

Van Robinson Pan-African Village

The picture above was definitely different from what I remembered. It used to say just “Pan African Village” but this year they’d added a tribute to one of the Syracuse area’s longest legislators and community activists, Van Robinson, who my parents knew and who I only met once. I thought that was nice and definitely appropriate. I walked through that area and was only in there 2 or 3 minutes before I went into the Center of Progress Building by the side door… first time I ever went in to the building that way.


The Center of Progress Building is usually quite crowded with lots of vendors, lots of state organizations, and a lot of cultural organizations such as the Right to Life folks, different religious organizations, and LBGTQ representation. There was a lot less of all of these things, which means I actually had an easier time walking around… though when I stopped to buy this fancy cherry licorice stuff the guy said it had been a slow week with relatively small crowds… which might have been a contributing factor to how easy it was to walk around, but there were still many things missing.

For the first time ever I didn’t buy fudge, which I love, since I learned there’s a place about 6 or 7 minutes from where I live that makes fudge… meaning I can get it whenever I want if I’m in the mood for it. That’s why the only picture I got from inside was the sand sculpture, shown above, which only had this side completed as the guy doing it only started the day before. Still, I thought this was pretty cool.


I left there and walked around the area, starting with the main gate into the Fair and walking that entire corridor, trying to find a Fair shirt; nada, nothing. I’m not into animals, and I wasn’t in the mood to go into another building, so I started walking towards the exit next to the entrance I came in through. By this time I was hungry and a little bit thirsty… meaning it was time to grab a couple of things I almost always have whenever I go to the Fair.

Above you see the remaining bits of my one and only corndog, which was wonderful… along with a cherry lemonade mix that was… also wonderful! The last booth I walked by was the donut booth, and anyone who knows me knows I love glazed yeast donuts… especially big ones. It’s hard to tell just how big this thing was, but it lasted me all the way until just before I left the Fairgrounds, which means about 3 or 4 minutes.

I drove home, thinking that the 90 minutes I’d spent walking around the Fairgrounds was enough for the year. Hours later Scott called and asked if I’d like to go to the Fair with them the next day. I was about to decline until he said “The Jacksons are performing”. What?!?!? That’s all I had to hear! lol


Things were much different the next day. The weather was hotter, the sun was out, and it was packed… and that was before we got close to the Fairgrounds. Traffic was backed up almost to Destiny USA; anyone in the local area knows that’s quite a distance. It took about 75 minutes just to reach the place Scott was going to park… then another 20 minutes to get on a bus, be transported to the front gate, and get into the grounds to finally say we were inside the Fair. While sitting in the car on Route 690, we noticed small planes flying above the Fairgrounds; eventually we were able to figure out that they were pulling banners behind them with images of the ghosts that used to be in the Pacman game… no idea! lol


pulled pork parfait


We walked… a lot! I don’t remember the order we went in because I was a bit tired, even though I didn’t mind taking all the steps. However, we did decide to go to the food building, which had a few new restaurants that replaced some older ones I was familiar with, and I decided to buy what you see above, which they called a pulled pork parfait. It was tasty, but dense, so I was only able to finish half of it; I lament the days when I could put a lot of food away and still be a happy guy. lol

A-10 drone



As we were getting closer to the time the concert was going to happen, we decided to go into the Exposition Center, where the last time I’d been in the Fairgrounds I got my Covid shots. It’s pretty much a “whatever you want to put in here we can handle it” place, and this time they were showing off a lot of military equipment. What you see above is a drone that’s used to do reconnaissance and, sometimes bombing and killing of enemies of the United States. I was shocked because I had no idea how big these things were, thinking a drone was the same size at those a lot of people buy to fly around their neighborhoods. I’m definitely glad I’m on this side of the war fence!


The Jacksons concert banner


We walked around a bit more until about 30 minutes before the Jackson’s concert was to begin. Turns out there’s actually 2 newer concert venues I didn’t know about that’s inside the Fairgrounds but still outside. The Jacksons concert was the furthest from the front gate, but would have been less than a 5 minute walk from where I parked on Friday. For a while there I wasn’t sure what the crowd was going to look like because at 8PM, when I thought the concert was supposed to start, the seats weren’t even half full. Luckily, by 8:30 the seating was close to fully packed, with many people setting up their own chairs just outside the metal seats we were sitting on, the lights went down, then flooded the area… and we had Jacksons! Only 3: Marlon, who handled the lead spots that used to be Michael’s, Tito, and Jackie… which surprised me and threw me off because online it said Jermaine was going to be there and that Jackie wasn’t coming. However, the concert was great, the weather was great, and everyone had a great time.

It was time to leave… which didn’t stop me from buying some donuts to take home and another cherry lemonade from a different stand… to go along with the second batch of fancy licorice I’d bought in the Center of Progress building again. 🙂 It was much easier to get on a bus, get to the car, and head home. Truthfully, I can’t remember the last time I’d had two good days in a row like this. We’ll see if I decide to go again next year… but this time around, I’ll research to see if they’ll finally be selling shirts!