December 12, 2014
Syracuse, NY

The Great New York State Fair Earns 17 International Awards on the Heels of the Most Successful Fair in Years

The Great New York State Fair Earns 17 International Awards on the Heels of the Most Successful Fair in Years
The Fair’s New Outreach Program, Adopt-A-Family, Earns First Place in Competition

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball and Acting New York State Fair Director Troy Waffner today announced that the Great New York State Fair earned 17 honors, including a first place award for its new Adopt-A-Family program, from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE).  The awards were announced at IAFE’s convention in Las Vegas Wednesday night.  The Fair submitted entries in the group’s annual awards competition, in the division for fairs and festivals with attendance of 500,001 to 1 million.

Adopt-A-Family won first place in the “Innovation in Sponsorship” competition for the best single sponsorship activation at a Fair, and was among two first place, eight second place, and seven third place awards earned by the Fair in this year’s competition.

“The Great New York State Fair has executed a remarkable resurgence, satisfying a larger audience while building on its main focus of promoting the best of New York agriculture.  These awards, for agricultural programs as well as for marketing the Fair, reflect an organization on the upswing.  We believe the best is yet to come,” said Richard A. Ball, New York State Commissioner of Agriculture.

The Adopt-A-Family program was one of several initiatives undertaken by Fair officials to increase attendance and strengthen its ties with the community.  Corporate sponsors purchased groups of ticket packages, which included admission, parking, and vouchers for the Fair’s signature baked potatoes and Rainbow Milk Bar, as well as a voucher to be used at the food stand of one sponsor, Gianelli Sausage.  Tully’s Good Times and the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association were the other corporate sponsors of this pilot program, which provided ticket packages to 350 families in Onondaga and Jefferson counties.  The Fair worked with local human service agencies, which distributed the tickets to eligible families among their client lists.  Recipients’ identities were never known to the Fair.

Agency officials told the Fair that their clients were thrilled to receive the assistance, and that it was the only way they would have been able to attend the Fair.  A typical story from one agency involves a family under financial stress where the father had been laid off and was in school to retrain for another job.   “[T]hey have not had the time or money to do a family vacation or just have some fun,” the family’s caseworker reported.  “When I arrived at the door to deliver the family pack, Mom answered the door and was so excited and thankful.  She said, ‘Thank you and thank all who made this possible….It has been a tough road this year and we felt badly that we could not give the kids a vacation.’  She was crying and smiling at the same time….”

“We’re proud of the award this program earned, but we are even prouder of the program itself.  We felt there was a need in the community for this, and now we have the proof.  We’re looking forward to building on that success for the 2015 Fair,” said Troy Waffner, Acting Fair Director.

Agricultural Awards

The Fair took two second place awards in the Agriculture Awards categories.  The daily free Taste NY Wine and Cheese Seminars in the Horticulture Building, in which wine experts showed consumers how to choose New York wines and pair them with New York cheeses, won second place for “Consumer Awareness in the Agricultural Environment.”  The seminars were one of several opportunities for consumers to sample the best of New York food and beverages under the Governor’s Taste NY program.  The Taste NY tent saw long lines of fairgoers waiting for free samples of New York foods and beverages, people enjoyed daily cooking demonstrations in the Taste NY Wegmans Demonstration Kitchen, and New York wines, craft beers, and spirits were more available than ever.

The Dairy Cow Birthing Center, operated by the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition, also earned second place honors in the competition called “Special or Specific Agricultural Educational Event, Exhibit, or Program for the Fairgoing Public.”  The birthing center has been a runaway success in its first two years at the Fair, drawing thousands of people to witness the miracle of birth on the farm.

Jessica Ziehm, Executive Director of the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition, said, “There’s something about showcasing 36 real-life births of dairy cows at the Great New York State Fair that is an “udder miracle” in itself, but is a unique and educational experience for fairgoers to learn more about New York’s ever evolving dairy industry that we are pleased to offer and thrilled to have recognized by IAFE.”

The Fair also earned a trio of third place honors, for the Ag Extravaganza in the category called “Special or Specific Event for Agricultural Exhibitors,” and for the History of the Fair Exhibit in the category “What was newly established or developed at your fair to promote agriculture?”  The Ag Extravaganza, which takes place on Labor Day in the Toyota Coliseum, allows people to talk directly with farmers and explore how their food is grown and made.  The History of the Fair Exhibit, in the Grange Building, traces the history of the nation’s first and oldest state fair back to its very first days.  The final third place award was for a joint exhibit program involving the Fair and a sponsor or partner.

Communications Awards

The Fair’s various marketing efforts, conducted with its advertising agency, Pinckney Hugo Group of Syracuse, garnered 11 awards.  Chief among them was a special honor, in which the Fair earned second place for best overall marketing campaign.  The Fair and Pinckney Hugo Group settled on a new tagline for the Fair, “Summer’s Best In Show,” and a special theme for 2014, “New Attractions, Old Favorites, Timeless Fun.”  The theme came directly from the Fair’s revitalization efforts, in a year that featured at least two dozen new attractions and events, including an all-new Midway and a brand new digital marquee at the main entrance.

The Fair’s poster, which depicted a Ferris Wheel loaded with Fair icons, was created by Pinckney Hugo as a collage made up of hundreds of carefully-cut pieces of colored paper.  The artwork was framed and displayed in the History of the Fair museum.

“Pinckney Hugo Group is honored to partner with the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets and The Great New York State Fair to help drive tourism in Central New York,” said Doug Pinckney, president of Pinckney Hugo Group. “The 2014 campaign featured traditional and non-traditional marketing efforts that highlighted new attractions, old favorites and timeless fun. It showcased everything we love in New York State from agriculture to entertainment and more.”

As for the remaining awards in communications, a color newspaper ad won a first place honor.  Second places went to the annual Fair Guide, a promotional poster, a series of advertisements for websites, its new Christmas ornaments, and its mobile website.  Third place awards were earned by a black-and-white newspaper ad, a magazine advertisement, the overall social media campaign, and the Fair’s website.

The New York State Fair, operated by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, runs from August 27 – September 7, 2015.  The Fair’s mission, reflected in its theme, “Summer’s Best in Show,” is to showcase the best of New York agriculture while providing top-quality entertainment. 

In addition to the annual New York State Fair, the Fairgrounds host dozens of agricultural events throughout the year, including some of the Northeast’s most prestigious horse and livestock shows.

The home of the Great New York State Fair is a 375-acre exhibit and entertainment complex that operates all year. A year-round schedule of events is available on the Fair’s website.  Find The Great New York State Fair on Facebook, follow @NYSFair on Twitter, and enjoy photos from the Fair at Also, New Yorkers are invited to send their ideas for the Great New York State Fair at [email protected].