By Hochul Press Office | July 10, 2024

LaFave’s Experience and Leadership Have The Fair Geared for Continued Growth and Progress

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the appointment of Julie LaFave as Director of The Great New York State Fair. Serving as Operations Director in 2023 before being named Interim Director earlier this year, LaFave’s selection plays an integral role in ensuring The Fair’s continued growth, innovation and cultural significance, while also ensuring the preservation of cherished traditions, inclusivity and family atmosphere that highlight New York’s favorite annual event. LaFave was selected for the position after a nationwide search that attracted a diverse pool of highly qualified candidates.

“Julie’s experience as Operations Director and Interim Director, coupled with her creativity and knowledge, are incredible assets to the long-term growth and vitality of The Great New York State Fair,” Governor Hochul said. “I am proud to officially welcome her as the Director of one of our most beloved traditions, and look forward to working with her as we continue to invest in and grow this extraordinary showcase of New York’s farmers, products, culture, and diversity.”

As the Interim Director, LaFave has led the planning of the 2024 Fair, helping to generate momentum and put together one of its most diverse, dynamic, and family-friendly entertainment lineups with shows ranging from acts geared toward children to Grammy winning artists and Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame performers. Additionally, LaFave has worked to develop several innovative attractions that demonstrate the importance of the State’s agricultural initiatives in boosting New York’s economy, tourism efforts, and educational endeavors. Prior to her role as the Interim Director, LaFave served as the Operations Director of The Fair, managing the day-to-day operations of the New York State Fairgrounds, including the oversight of contracts, budgets, more than 50 buildings spread across 375 acres, and over 100 full and part-time staff.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Julie hit the ground running since joining the Fair and she has been a strong leader, working with our truly talented State Fair team, to develop many new and exciting initiatives and to ensure we remain focused on agriculture first and foremost.  Julie’s experience, passion and innovative thinking have elevated this year’s Fair already, and now, with her leading as Director, I have no doubt that this year’s Fair will truly be one to remember.”

New York State Fair Director Julie LaFave said, “I couldn’t be more excited to be named Director of The Great New York State Fair and play a role in growing a summer tradition that has captivated New Yorkers for over 175 years. I’m grateful to Governor Hochul for appointing me to this important role and to my team here at The Fair who are working tirelessly to ensure that fairgoers leave with the feeling that the 2024 Fair was one of the best yet.”

Prior to joining The Fair in 2023, LaFave established a strong reputation for strategic management as Commissioner of the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Youth Programs for the City of Syracuse, including a proven track record of overseeing large annual budgets, multi-million-dollar capital improvement projects, employee management, and the planning, promotion, and coordination of sizeable events. LaFave played an integral part in the coordination and logistics for several large-scale events, including the Taste of Syracuse, which routinely draws more than 100,000 visitors over a two-day period. Her additional experience working in recreation, along with her leadership involvement with various boards throughout the Central New York region has provided her with ample experience and insight into producing world-class events like The Fair.

This announcement builds on Governor Hochul’s bold investment in agriculture and plan to support growth and revitalization opportunities for all fairs in New York. The FY24 Enacted Budget provides key funding to New York’s county fairs and The Great New York State Fair, which are critical components of New York agriculture that connect the public with this important industry and its traditions. The Budget includes a $2 million investment in county fairs to assist in their marketing and promotion in an effort to deliver on Governor Hochul’s commitment to enhance coordination between county fairs and The Great New York State Fair and increase opportunities to improve youth and agricultural programming initiatives at all fairs statewide.

The Fair starts Wednesday, August 21, and runs through Labor Day, Monday, September 2. Admission, parking and tickets to The Fair’s famous midway are now on sale and can be purchased by visiting The Great New York State Fair’s website.

Admission to The Great New York State Fair is loaded with value and includes access to 39 national recording acts. There will be a daily 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. concert at Chevy Court (located near Gate 1), and a daily 8 p.m. concert at Suburban Park (located on the western end of the Fairgrounds, beyond the Midway). Updated concert schedules are available on The Fair’s website at pages dedicated to Chevy Court and Suburban Park.

Founded in 1841, The Great New York State Fair showcases the best of New York agriculture, provides top-quality entertainment, and is a key piece of the state’s CNY Rising strategy of growing the Central New York economy through tourism. It is the oldest fair in the United States and is consistently recognized as being among the top five state fairs in the nation.

The New York State Fairgrounds is a 375-acre exhibit and entertainment complex that operates all year. Audiences are encouraged to learn more about The Great New York State Fair online, browse photos on Flickr, and follow the fun on Facebook, X and Instagram.