When the New York State Fair’s attendance record was broken Monday, there was one face you did not see at the head of the crowd: Acting Director Troy Waffner.
The next day, both vendors and local leaders spoke up about it.
“It upsets me in a way because I’ve watched him ever since I got my first peanut butter and jelly sandwich in 2009 to Troy. I watched him behind the scenes. Troy deserves a lot of recognition and so does that whole office. They put this on. They bust their butt all these hours every day,” said James Hasbrouck, Fried Specialties owner.
“Every time I’ve been at the opening ceremony, the ribbon cutting with the governor, I’ve told him point blank: ‘He should be named director.’ He deserves it. He’s proven himself...you can’t talk to a vendor, you can’t talk to an operator of any booth that’s ever anywhere in the fair or ride that can say anything negative about him. They all love him,” said John DeFrancisco, (R) Senate-Syracuse.
Hours later, there was another announcement.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo officially appointed Troy Waffner as director.
“I feel great. I love the fair. I would have stayed at the fair no matter what they called me, but it’s great being appointed director,” said Waffner.
Waffner had been helping to put on the fair for the past nine years. For five of those years, he served as acting director.
Many believe this appointment is long overdue.
“It’s been too long coming. He’s done a great job. He cares about the fair. He’s consistently broken the attendance record and contributed to that along with the staff that’s here year-round,” said Stacey Waterman, NYSF Chevy Court and entertainment production manager.
Now Waffner’s dedication has paid off.
“I think when you work at the fair, you either love it or hate it. Once it gets in your blood, you’ll never get it out,” said Waffner.
Some of the improvements made under Waffner's leadership includes the updated main gate, the year-round RV park, the paved and expanded Midway, and improved exhibit areas. The fair has also added visitor amenities, like more seating, shade, bathrooms and child care facilities.
Waffner said in a statement:
"I am honored to continue my service to this great organization and its talented people and thank Governor Cuomo for his faith in me and our team. We will work diligently to meet the governor's vision of a fair and fairgrounds that promotes the best of New York agriculture, provides great entertainment for the people of New York, and becomes a major provider of economic benefits for the people of Central and Upstate New York."