Located just outside of the City of Syracuse is the oldest running state fair in the United States, the Great New York State Fair! Originally starting in 1841, this incredible fairgrounds is held on a 375-acre area on the shores of Onondaga Lake. Beginning during the latter half of August, this incredible fair keeps going into September and offers plenty of fun and food for the entire family.
For those who like thrills, there are plenty of Midway rides to get your heart pumping. There are also a couple of dozen food options that include the best that the fairgrounds has to offer with gourmet hot dogs, fried everything, and plenty of wacky options to choose from here.
Located on the fairgrounds is an RV campground which is outfitted with everything you need to camp in comfort. Just a mere stone's throw from the main carnival rides, you'll also find many venues and musical stages with a range of talents on them. Taking place over the course of two weeks and with attendance measured over a million per year, there is a reason the Great New York State Fair has been going on for over a century and a half.
Admission into the state fair can fluctuate depending on who is going and on what day. Children under 12 are admitted free regardless of the day, while most can expect to pay around $10 for a ticket. Often, free days are given to students under the age of 18 and senior citizens over 60 on certain days. Daily admission is often reduced for everyone on opening day.
Parking passes hover around $5.00 per vehicle, with certain online apps offering cashless entry. RV camping and parking are both possible through the Empire RV Park, which lies within the fairgrounds. Rental of a spot can be per day or as a package over the course of 17 days; this latter option can be pricey but also includes a pair of wristbands into the fair. For specific information check the official website.
The New York State Fairgrounds are located west of the beautiful Onondaga Lake. NY-695 and I-690 connect north of the fair. Coming from the south, most people take NY-5 and turn onto NY-695, while from the north most follow I-690 all the way down. There are multiple entrances, labeled as gates, getting into the fairgrounds, and RVers will want to head straight to the campground.
General parking is located north and south of main fairgrounds area, with the north section across from I-690. While there is no official length limit listed for the Empire RV Park, motorists may want to inquire with staff if more than 40' may be required. A few primitive parking spaces are also available in under Daily RV Parking with a limit of 40' per spot. Parking passes for everyone is bought per day or in packages if camping.
Public transit options to and from the fairgrounds are usually readily available. Public express buses regularly depart to and from the area, with specific fair times depending on the time and location. Amtrak services are available in the area and are a great option for families.
The official campground of the fairgrounds is the Empire RV Park. The campgrounds come with electric, water, and sewage and hookups. Additional space is permitted at an additional fee. Reservations typically start on the first of August with spaces taken fast. Daily RV Parking is also often an option offering fewer amenities but is also on site at the Great New York State Fair.
If the RV campgrounds on site are all reserved, you aren't completely out of luck. Several RV campgrounds are available in all directions under an hour's drive from the fairgrounds and many only require 25 minutes on the road. Numerous lakes in the wider area may also offer travelers something to enjoy on the way to or from the fair. While it can vary, many sites come with full hook-ups (electric, water, and sewer) along with other facilities like laundry and Wifi. Getting back to the fairgrounds is just a matter of taking I-690.
The RV campgrounds are located right across from the main fair. The entirety of the fairgrounds is relatively large, and tram service is offered free of charge during the peak hours. Scooters, wheelchairs, and wagons are also permitted with rental services provided on site.
The weather during August and September ranges from warm to mild in New York. It's best to keep clothing lightweight, with jeans, shorts, and t-shirts ready to wear on most days. A hoodie or light jacket should be kept in reserve just in case the weather dips during the evening.
While the fairgrounds provide plenty to do with rides, musical entertainment, and facilities, you may also want activities to enjoy while relaxing at the campsite. This includes things like toiletries and food, along with games, a fire pit, chairs, and a grill. All items must remain neatly in each camping space. Remember to bring your own hookup connections if you plan to take advantage of electric, water, or sewage options.
The Great New York State Fair takes place during the end of summer, which means plenty of sun and a fair amount of heat. Sunscreen, bug spray, and reusable water bottles are a must. Multiple First-Aid stations will be located on the premises, but a basic first aid kit on hand is advisable. Non-alcoholic beverages and food is permitted into the fairground but will be subject to search upon entry.
Campers can enjoy cooking outside at their campsite or via an RV kitchen. Remember to check fuel regulations and fill your tanks accordingly. Grilling and firepits are permitted if within the campground's fire safety rules. Fires that are deemed too large will be asked to be put out, and a means to extinguish fires is required. There are numerous food options on site, with a few stores located in vicinity ranging from basic discount stores to supermarket chains.
There are multiple food options in the surrounding area within a 20-minute drive from the fairgrounds and often near Lake Onondaga. Food choices range from small bars and grill with comfort food, to more classy digs stacked with homemade entrees and desserts. Travelers wanting to see the area around the fair can easily fill their bellies and explore the beauty of nature.
Guests will find a plethora of vendor options on site, including face painting, cloth shopping, and wine shops. Food options are diverse with Greek delights, sausage chefs, and American fare as the tip of the iceberg. Fairground fun ranging from games, freakish food, and musical entertainment all fill the eyes and ears at the Great New York State Fair.
While coolers and bags are permitted onto the fairgrounds, they will be subject to a bag check. Security personnel are on site and will be available to quell any disturbances on the fairgrounds and campgrounds. Visitors should keep items locked up in their RV when not in use.
Weather in the New York state area is relatively warm to mild in the late summer months. Days are often still long and sunny, and bugs are still in action. Lightweight clothing like t-shirts and shorts is recommended, with additional gear like sunglasses, a hat, sunscreen, and so forth also advised. Weather can be sporadic at times in the Syracuse area, and temperatures may plummet at night. Pants and a hoodie this time of year are good to have available if needed.
Fair-goers may utilize one of the first-aid stations available at any time during the fair. With the main setup usually located behind the Horticultural Building and a backup emergency station inside the Fire Station. Medical care is available in the Syracuse area at St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center, which is approximately a 15-minute drive via I-690.