Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the 2016 Great New York State Fair has generated the highest level of attendance in its 175-year history, shattering numerous records over the course of its twelve day run. As of 4 p.m. today, a record 1,096,524 visitors passed through the Fair's redesigned main gate, beating the previous record of 1,011,248 set in 2001. Governor Cuomo, joined by state and local officials whose work over the last several years has helped secure investments needed to successfully grow the Fairgrounds, marked the record by shattering a block of ice in the shape of the previous record at a celebration in the Fair's Empire Room. The Governor also presented four lifetime passes and a host of Fair-related gifts to record-setting visitor number 1,011,249 from Onondaga County.

"The Great New York State Fair is a great New York tradition that reached an exciting new milestone in its storied history with this year's new attendance record," Governor Cuomo said. "We set a goal for the Fair - one million people to come and experience the unprecedented transformation, and we not only met it, but soared past it. I congratulate today's record-breaking winners who received lifetime passes to the Fair, and encourage all New Yorkers to check out this long-standing celebration next year."

The Fair has posted the strongest daily attendance figures in its history, setting three new daily attendance records on its way to breaking the total attendance record. When final numbers are in after the gates close tonight for the 2016 season, attendance will have risen by at least 20 percent above last year's attendance and as much as 10 percent above the all-time high, set in 2001.

The State Fair is one of Central New York's most important economic assets, and a higher attendance means that more people are spending money within the region. The Fair generates approximately $100 million annually for the local economy, and employs more than 2,800 people while the Fair is underway.

The winners - a family of four - will receive a Great New York State Fair Gift Bag, which includes four lifetime passes to the Fair, Mega Pass wristbands for the Wade Shows Midway with Gold Pass access, allowing winners to ride unlimited, food vouchers redeemable at any Fair vendor, two tickets to the Lakeview Amphitheater 2017 concert of their choice, and a Taste NY gift basket full of New York-made products.

Two weeks ago, Governor Cuomo kicked off the quest to one million visitors on opening day with a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the historic $50 million revitalization of the Fairgrounds, which helped drive this year's record-setting attendance by considerably enhancing the experience for guests.

The upgrades include a new Main Gate, which is reminiscent of the carriage gate that greeted fairgoers in 1900, more open spaces, walking paths and landscaping throughout the grounds, additional seating and shade, a larger and newly reconfigured Midway, a new 315-site Empire RV Park, and underground infrastructure improvements. These significant enhancements are the foundation for future success and economic growth in the region as the Fair looks to become a more sought-after, multi-use facility throughout the year.

Senator John DeFrancisco said, "Having gone to the State Fair since I was a child, it is great to see it continue to get bigger and better. A large part of its success is due to the hard work of Acting Director Troy Waffner. Now to reach the next level we must and will listen to the suggestions of fair goers and venders to utilize continued funding for the right purposes. I thank Governor Cuomo for his efforts and I look forward to working with him so that we can break even more records at the Fair in the years to come."

Senator David Valesky said, "Governor Cuomo's $50 million investment to transform the State Fair symbolizes the growth that we are seeing across Syracuse and all of Central New York. The Fair is an integral part of developing our economic assets across the region and creating new ones. I'm thankful we have a Governor who is focused on positioning our region and leveraging our strengths for continued growth. I look forward to working with our partners in government to keep up the momentum for years to come."

Assemblymember William Magnarelli said, "The State Fair has been one of Central New York's greatest economic engines for generations. For years, hundreds of thousands of people have come to Syracuse every year to enjoy twelve days of the very best that New York has to offer. This momentous milestone is a testament to the transformative effect of this year's revitalization, and I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership, tenacity, and state-of-the-art vision for the Fair which has proved the naysayers wrong and shows what we can accomplish together. I look forward to seeing the Fair's success grow even more in the years ahead."

Assemblymember Pamela Hunter said, "The New York State Fair is better than ever before, and this record-breaking milestone is proof positive of its revival. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, the Fair's momentum has reached new heights - and it's only just the beginning. The Fair's renewed vitality is all around us, and it's clear that this New York icon will remain a permanent tradition in our state's legacy for generations to come."

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, "Central New York is in a better, brighter economic position because of Governor Cuomo's revitalization of the Fairgrounds. The proof is in the record numbers of people who came to enjoy the new Fair, and there will be more proof as new events come to the Fairgrounds and existing ones are able to grow."

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said: "We have much to celebrate as this year marks a turning point at the Fair with the implementation of the Governor's tremendous new improvements that are perfectly complemented by the continued focus on some of our time honored traditions and agriculture, making the Fair an even better experience for our long-time and new fairgoers. This is an incredible moment for the 2016 Great New York State Fair and I couldn't be prouder of all of our hard working men and women who helped make it happen. We have a tremendous team who devote countless hours to making this Fair not only the greatest fair in the state, but the greatest fair in the nation."

Troy Waffner, Acting Fair Director said, "From the historic renovations, to the addition of new food vendors and attractions, this has truly been our greatest Fair yet. Governor Cuomo set an aggressive goal for us and we dug in to achieve it. None of this would be possible without the faithful fairgoers who come to enjoy the Fair each and every year. We are fortunate to have such loyal visitors and excited to have welcomed so many new ones this year."

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