Vendors and Hungry NYS Fair Fans Take to the New Expo Center for the First Winter Fair

Feb 11, 2019

Locals enjoyed the food of the State Fair in the winter at the Expo Center.
Credit Brad Klein/WAER News

The first ever Winter Fair warmed up Central New York over the weekend with a taste of summer in the middle of February. Live music, rides, food and the fun elements of the State Fair were all stuffed into the new Expo Center at the Fairgrounds, but local business owners believe that the Winter Fair also generated more than just family fun. James Coles of the Goodway Bakery sees a new market.

James Coles of the Goodway Bakery poses at the Winter Fair after nearly selling out of his famous rum cakes every day.
Credit Brad Klein/WAER News

“It’s a no brainer. Where there’s people, it’s a market. Where there’s a market, you need to supply. Simple money”

Coles has been shut out from the summer State Fair as a vendor, so when he heard about this weekend’s indoor version, he was ecstatic. But he says the Winter Fair is more than just a business opportunity.  

“The concept is fantastic, so I think it’s great. Especially with Siberia being outside this weekend. People having a chance to come inside, gather with their loved ones with music, good food makes good memories and good times. Great idea. I wish I would have thought of it.”

Even though it's cold outside, Central New Yorkers embraced the Fair in the same way as they do every year in the summer. 

“One lady yesterday said, ‘I’ll be here every single day because I go to the State Fair in the summertime every single day.’ So, I think people are just excited that the venue is called, the Fair.”

Jean Heckathorn of the Wicked Stitcher of the East was one of only a few craftsmen at the Winter Fair. She vows to return next year.
Credit Brad Klein/WAER News

That was local artisan Jean Heckathorn of the Wicked Stitcher of the East. She was one of only a few craftsmen at the Fair, and nearly sold out every day. The winter is a slow time for her because there are very few big events in the area to get buyers to see her product. But she says that the Winter Fair is what Central New Yorkers need at this time of year.

“What else is there to do to get people out of the house and have some enjoyable family time? It’s a family event and everybody that’s gone by here has been smiling. Everybody that I see is very pleased with the event.”

Now the countdown to the State Fair in August begins. 6 months is a long time, but the Winter Fair will likely hold the Fair fans over until then.