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Quiet Start On Opening Day Of The New York State Fair, But Those Attending Are Delighted To Be There

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Scott Willis
The main corridors near Chevy Court were much less crowded than they typically are just before noon on opening day.

The New York State Fair began its 18 day run Friday on a much quieter note than the past.  The pending resignation of Governor Cuomo means there was no governor’s day and the pomp and circumstance that goes with opening day ceremonies.  Then there are concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.  WAER News stopped by to check the mood of fair visitors.

It's probably safe to say there's a lower-key feel to opening day of the state fair. Lines could be seen outside the main entry gates around opening time, 11:00.
One of those who came through the gates was Cindy Wiesen from Erie, Pennsylvania. She, along with her husband Robert and daughter Chrissie who serves in the air force decided to make this year their inaugural visit.

"I've never been to the fair before, any fair. This is my first time. I'm excited," Cindy Wiesen said.
"What do you want to see or do? There's a lot," this reporter asked.
"That's what we're trying to figure out! We've got a map, we're trying to figure out where we want to go."

I also caught up with Peter Vicario, his wife and sons ages 5 and 3. They’re from New York City, and were helping a family member move into Cornell University. Peter attended school in the Syracuse area but hasn’t been to the fair in 10 years.

"I really like the butter sculpture," he said with a laugh. "I want to show them the pigs and the cows. Of course, they're going to want to ride the rides. What are you excited about?" he asked his children.
"I want to ride bullet train!" said the 5-year-old.
"I want to ride bullet train, too!" the 3-year-old answered.
"They don't have a bullet train. Maybe the roller coasters," said their mom.

Viacario says they’re not worried about rising COVID infection rates, and will wear masks in the buildings, which is required for all fair visitors, vaccinated or not.
Another family says they’ll generally avoid the buildings and stay outdoors for the safety of their 6-year-old son.

"We're just going to try to stay not close to people, and leave if it gets crowded, especially with him. We're vaccinated, but he's obviously too young," the mom said.
"What do you like the most," this reporter asked.
"The rides," the boy replied. "Of course," his dad said.

By the time I left, the fairgrounds were still relatively quiet, at least for an opening day with nice weather. But, fairgoers still have 17 other days to choose from.

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Scott Willis
A rare sight: These tables sat empty outside the Center of Progress Building.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at