SYRACUSE (NCC NEWS) — Central New York’s largest annual event is no longer limited to the summer.
The first ever Winter Fair opens on Friday afternoon inside the New York State Fair Exposition Center and promises to bring all the fun of the Fair inside.
The event includes over 100 vendors, rides and attractions. The only thing not being brought inside for the Fair are the animals due to space restrictions.
The State Fair creates more than $30 million in annual revenue for the region, Visit Syracuse President Danny Liedka said. Most of that comes from small business vendors at the Fair, hotels and restaurants.
Planning for the event began over a year ago when Promoter Steve Becker was approached by Fair organizers looking to create events to hold in the new Expo Center.
“It just kind of came to me,” Becker said. “All the fun of the fair, the food, the music, the rides. Boy, could we do that in the winter.”
The Expo Center has more than 100,000 square feet, making it the largest space of its kind north of New York City and west of Boston, Liedka said. It has greatly increased the number of events that can be hosted at the fairgrounds year-round.
“This will be a game changer for us moving forward as we will see you this weekend on a typically quiet weekend,” Liedka said. “We’ll see tremendous activity because of the Winter Fair.”
Becker said it could not be the Fair without rides, and the Expo Center’s size even allows for him to have a Ferris wheel in the Midway section.
“It’s a beautiful facility,” Becker said. “You want to have a little bit of that wow factor. I mean, when you come in it’s large. I wanted to fill it and you get that feeling especially when you get all the other vendors in here.”
The weekend will include performances by local musical acts, community groups and Native American tribes. German Juggle Boy, Hilby, will make his Winter Fair debut on Saturday afternoon after more than 20 years of performing at the State Fair.
Becker hopes to have a good first year then grow the event into a Central New York tradition. Thousands of advanced tickets have been sold and more than 15,000 people have joined a Facebook event for the Winter Fair.
The Winter Fair runs Friday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. Tickets are available online or at the door. Admission is up to $6 per adult and free for children 12 and under.