In his first open press event in several weeks, Governor Andrew Cuomo put New York State Fair queries to rest: There will be one this year.
Cuomo was at the New York State Fairgrounds Monday morning when he made the announcement, saying "The Fair must go on, and this year the Fair will go on."
Cuomo lauded fairground officials, volunteers and the National Guard for their efforts to distribute 340,000 vaccines at the Expo Center mass vaccination center. He also extended his congratulations to the Central New York and Southern Tier regions for maintaining the lowest COVID-19 positivity rates for the state.
"This is all interconnected," said Cuomo. "The State Fair, businesses opening and the COVID positivity rates and the vaccination process for COVID."
Cuomo said that the fair will run the full 18 days, from August 20 to September 6, with some modifications to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols.
Instead of on one campus, the fair will run in four sections to maintain crowd sizes to 50% capacity. Concerts, food, rides and the agricultural attractions will be in their own zones, following the state guidelines that apply to them individually.
Cuomo said there will be revisions between now and August to these guidelines, and this could mean more capacity and flexibility depending on rising vaccination rates and lower positivity rates.
"These are estimated guidelines, but they may well be adjusted up by the time we get to the fair day," said Cuomo. "So start to plan to buy tickets, and vendors, start to get ready."
Born and bred in Central New York, Kevin Hohl dedicates a lot of his life to the fair.
“My father always came out to the fair and I came out with him and he use to come out every day so I came out every day,” said Hohl.
A lifetime pass holder, Kevin goes to the fair every single day it’s open. He spent his working days planning around the fair.
“I was a bit of a workaholic but I always made sure I saved enough time to come here,” said Hohl.
His tradition was put on pause last year.
“I had a bunch of my friend’s text me 'you can go to the fair again,'”
State Fair director Troy Wafner said he is working with the Department of Health to determine screening details for entry. Vaccinations won’t be required and tickets will be purchased online, which should help with any need contact tracing.
It will make it much easier to control not only the capacity but face masks are going to be required, so making sure everybody is abiding by the rules. We are going to start mapping those out today,” said Wafner.
He said fairground employees will likely be tested every three days.