5 Best Bets for Fun

Great NYS Fair
Great NYS Fair

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

After many long, gray months, the warm months offer a welcome break. Try these outings to enjoy uniquely New York venues and events.

1 The Great New York State Fair (https://nysfair.ny.gov, Aug. 23-Sept. 4).

The NYS Fair is considered one of the nation’s largest, best state fairs for its size (375 acres) with free entertainment and a wide variety of entertainment. It’s also pretty affordable, with adult tickets for $10 and children 12 and younger free. The fair’s many discounted and free days such as for military personnel and seniors, make it easy for everyone to enjoy. Shuttles from other towns have also increased access. The fair’s recent facelift and improvements, including a new entrance façade and upgraded midway, augment the fairgoer’s experience. This year, the fair will last an extra day, too.

2 County Fairs

Wherever you live, your county fair offers a slice of nostalgia in your own backyard. Chances are, you’ll bump into a friend or neighbor. Watch 4-H animal exhibitors, try the Tilt-o-Whirl, and patronize your local organization’s food stand. Little has changed at the county fair since you were a kid — and that’s a good thing. Search online at https://nysfair.ny.gov/about/ny-county-fairs.

3 Empire Farm Days (http://empirefarmdays.com, Aug. 8-10, $10/vehicle).

This event showcases all the best in agriculture. But more than an agricultural trade show, anyone interested in rural life would enjoy strolling the show grounds at Rodman Lott & Son Farms in Seneca Falls. Presentations by Cornell Cooperative Extension, New York Grange and the Department of Environmental Conservation can help land owners better care for their property. Youngsters and adults enjoy live equipment and animal demos and can check out the displays and free samples at the numerous information tents and buildings.

4 Oswego Harborfest (http://www.oswegoharborfest.com/, July 27-30, free)

This festival, which is celebrating its 30th year, brings together all things good about summer: weather, live music, festivals and local food. About 100,000 people think so every year. Harborfest has become the big event of the summer for locals and visitors, too.

5 New York State Parks

New York State Parks provide a means to nearly any outside activity you want to enjoy this summer. Water sports, wildlife watching, hunting, angling, hiking and more await you. The easiest way to gain access is through the Empire Pass (https://parks.ny.gov/admission/empire-passport), which allows holders unlimited access to state parks all year instead of paying for parking and access each time you visit a state park. The annual pass is $80 and any member of the household may use it. The $65 vehicle pass decal isn’t transferrable. Multi-year passes and lifetime passes are also available.