Governor Takes Amtrak to the Fair; Cuts Ribbon for Opening Day
Announces New Promotion: Ride Amtrak between Aug. 21 - Sept. 2 and Get Free Fair Admission
Announces Five-Year "GreenFair" Plan to Increase Recycling, End Use of Some Plastics, and Make the Fairgrounds Energy-Independent by 2024
Announces New Gate 10 and Next Phase of Access Improvement Projects for the Fair
Renderings for GreenFair and Gate 10 Available Here
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo kicked off the 172nd Great New York State Fair in Syracuse. At the ribbon cutting, the Governor announced a new promotion to further drive attendance at the Fair - anyone with a valid Amtrak ticket dated between August 21 and September 2 will receive a free admission to the Fair by presenting the ticket or receipt at any Fair box office. The Governor and cabinet officials took the train from Albany to the Fair's special train stop to highlight the ease and environmentally-friendly way of attending the Fair by train. Amtrak operates regular eastbound and westbound trains that use the special stop at the Fair. Schedules can be found here. The Governor also announced three new projects aimed at continuing the forward momentum of the revitalization of the Fairgrounds including: GreenFair, an aggressive project to make the State Fair energy self-sufficient; a new, larger Gate 10 to be completed in time for next year's Fair; and the start of Phase 2 of the State Fair access improvement project to make the Fair more accessible for vehicles and pedestrians.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Thank you. Thank you very much. Boy, what a crowd. I hope you all paid your admission ticket. First, Richard Ball, our Commissioner of Agriculture has just done a phenomenal job. Let's give him a big round of applause and thank him very much. Troy Waffner has really stepped up and gotten it done. Let's give him a round of applause. I want to thank and I want to applaud Mayor Ben Walsh. He is a great leader, he's brought a new energy, he's a can-do guy. The results speak for itself, but Syracuse is blessed to have Mayor Walsh. Let's give him a round of applause. I love the partnership between the City and the County and that's Mayor Walsh, and that's County Executive Ryan McMahon who's doing a great job. Thank you, thank you for being here. I want to recognize my friend, the former County Executive, who really got the ball rolling for all of us. Joanie Mahoney, thank you very much. We have our great Lieutenant Governor with us today. Pleasure to be with you, Governor.
We brought many members of the state cabinet, the state government. We have our commissioners here today. Many of them have exhibits at the fair, so we all came together. We took the Amtrak train over from Albany. One of the--we're victims of our own success. We have such a high attendance rate now at the fair that parking and handling the vehicles had been an issue, so this year, as the commissioner mentioned, we partnered with Amtrak. You can get on an Amtrak train from Albany and you can come by Amtrak. It's a beautiful ride, Taste of NY products on the way. And if you pay for the Amtrak train, which you have to pay otherwise you don't get on, you get free admission to the Fair. So, I'm here on free admission today and I'm loving it.
The Fair is a new Fair and people who say you know well I've been to the Fair before, no you haven't because this is a different Fair than you've ever been to before. Matt Driscoll, who you know as a former mayor of Syracuse, we've been talking on the train, he's been coming here since he's been about five years old. I've been coming for about 20 years. But this is a totally different experience. It is a different Fair. We still celebrate our great agricultural industry and our expanded agricultural industry with now wineries and breweries that we've never had before. We have exhibits that we've never had before. The facility is different than it's ever been.
I used to joke that the State Fair for many years was just stagnant and I went to the State Fair one year and I left a Diet Coke can on a railing and I came back the next year and the Diet Coke can was on that same railing. Don't get offended, Commissioner. It wasn't literally true. And you weren't the Commissioner so don't worry about it anyway. But it was true. The Fair was stagnant and in that way in many ways it was a metaphor for upstate New York. It didn't get the attention, it didn't get the investment, it didn't get the energy. And if you don't grow, if you're not developing, then you're falling behind, and that was the story of the State Fair.
And we set about with a comprehensive vision. I want to applaud the members of the legislature who are here. We invested over $120 million. We said to the Legislature, it will be an investment that will reap dividends and when you hear the Mayor and the County Executive talk about the job growth and the new economic activity, that's just what it was. But I want to thank very much Pamela Hunter, Bill Magnarelli, Al Stirpe, stand up, Joe Griffo, stand up, let us give you a round of applause. Because the fair does a number of things. First, it is an economic generator just for Syracuse itself. We built the new Expo Center. It is one of the largest convention centers in the northeast and it transformed this site from a site that worked for Syracuse and central New York basically thirteen days a year into a year round attraction.
Last year, we set a record 1.2 million fairgoers right? Great. This year already coming to the expo center, over 1 million people have come to these fairgrounds before the fair has even opened. From a tourism point of view - tourism is a big engine - we are bring more people in. And it is not just to the Fair, it is the Fair as a base of operation and then people are going into the city to restaurants, they are going to hotels that RV facility is state of the art. And they are coming to the Fair and they are staying for days, and they are visiting Lake Ontario. Which by the way, if you have not gone fishing on Lake Ontario you are missing something. I am finding every excuse that I can find. I took the Governor of Connecticut fishing the other day. I am calling every governor I know. But you can come to the fairgrounds, you can come see our wineries, see our breweries, see the Finger Lakes, it is just a great base of operation for tourism in this entire region.
And it is a metaphor for upstate New York. Upstate New York struggled for many years. Central New York prime among them. Why? It had every asset imaginable but the economy had turned and the state, frankly, didn't step in and say "we're here, we're a partner, we want to help, we want to invest, and let's invest in the economy of tomorrow." Today is a different day. It is a different day in Syracuse and central New York and all across upstate New York. Today, this state has more private sector jobs than it has ever had in the history of the State of New York.
The job growth in Syracuse is through the roof. Unemployment is down all across upstate New York. Why? Because we always had the best workforce, and the best schools and some of the most beautiful geography in the whole world, we just didn't have the state government coming to the table and saying we are going to partner to put it all together - and today we do. So, when you look at this new Fair today and you look at all the new exhibits and the new Expo Center, and the new energy and growth and attendance, that is the new upstate New York. And I want to applaud all the people who made it happen because when we started there were many naysayers. There were people who said well you can't do this. The Fair is the Fair and it will never be any different, and you're not really going to grow the economy - we heard that speech before but it never happened.
But you had people who believed, like Joanie Mahoney, and Ryan McMahon, and Ben Walsh, and the state legislators who represent this area, and Matt Driscoll, and RoAnn Destito, who would not give up and they were right. And this Fair is a new Fair, and Syracuse is a new Syracuse, and Onondaga is a new Onondaga and New York is a new New York that we can all be proud of. When you look at this State Fair, we now have a State Fair that the great State of New York deserves. Let's enjoy it. I'm proud of it. Thank you and God bless you.