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Great New York State Fair opens with new director and new attractions

Ellen Abbott
WRVO (file)

State Fair season began Wednesday morning in central New York as gates open at 10 a.m. for the fair's 13-day run. A new permanent director and some new features will be part of this year’s fair.

Sean Hennessey has moved from interim to permanent fair director just in time for this year's exposition.

Hennessey said he hopes to create a fair fit for all.

“Stabilizing the buildings, making sure that there's longevity there, but also making sure that people that come to the fairgrounds feel included, regardless of the background, their faith, their ethnic background, whatever they may feel as them, I want them here and I want them to feel welcomed," Hennessey said.

Hennessey's vision for the future is something he said builds on the work from the past.

“My vision in a nutshell is inclusion," Hennessey said. "We want everyone that comes to the state fair to have a presence here and to feel welcomed here. They have been welcomed in the past. It's not a change. It's just improving on what we've done in the past as we are with Asian Village, the new creation for this year."

Along with the Asian Village, a new attraction this year is a Dinosaur Expedition, featuring life-sized animatronic dinosaurs.

New York State Fair Director Sean Hennessey takes a selfie with an animatronic dinosaur in the fair's new Dinosaur Exped
Ava Pukatch
New York State Fair Director Sean Hennessey takes a selfie with a dinosaur in the fair's new Dinosaur Expedition attraction.

Hennessey is also in charge of getting the fair's finances in shape in the future. This year, fairgoers will see evidence of a new $34.7 million state investment in infrastructure and other enhancements announced last year by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The first year of spending has focused on streetscape improvements and a new goat pavilion. That spending will be spread out over three years.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.