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State Fair Names New Director


Julie LaFave was appointed as Director of The Great New York State Fair on Wednesday by Governor Kathy Hochul.

Serving as Operations Director in 2023 before being named Interim Director earlier this year, Governor Hochul says 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.

“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 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.

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