NY State Fair mainstays with tri-state connections won’t return in 2021

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Two legendary New York State Fair vendors will skip this year’s festivities, first reported by PIX11’s Syracuse sister station NewsChannel 9.

Gianelli Sausage, a mainstay at the Fairgrounds, will not return to the Great New York State Fair in 2021, the company confirmed. Gianelli also serves Dinosaur Bar-B-Que menu items in one of its primely-located stands in what’s been a longstanding Fair partnership.

Gianelli and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que products are available at some tri-state area stores, and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que operates three area restaurants: one in Harlem, one in Brooklyn and one in Newark.

NewsChannel 9 was the first to report Gianelli’s decision on Wednesday morning, citing multiple sources involved in the stand’s operation.

Wednesday afternoon, the company posted a statement to its website: “We hang up our aprons with heavy hearts but also with many, many fond memories and most importantly a tremendous sense of gratitude to all the people who supported us over the years.”

The closure affects Gianelli’s two large Fair stands.

The decision is allegedly not directly related to the coronavirus pandemic, nor the uncertainty leading up to the 2021 Fair. Sources said it’s been long considered for various reasons, but the stress on the companies to staff an 18-day run is too much for the operation.

Additionally, the challenge of finding workers for the companies’ primary operations make it nearly impossible for the managers to divert staff to the Fairgrounds.

“Both Gianelli Sausage and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que have been dedicated to serving the diverse needs of our customers while navigating the increasing and changing demands of the times we are living in.  We believe our focus and attention must remain with our core businesses,” read the statement

Gianelli is the primary operator of both stands, though Dinosaur Bar-B-Que provided some staff at the location where its food was featured on the menu.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que owner John Stage said he has “just enough” staff to keep his Syracuse restaurant open.

“There’s no way we could spend 18 days at the Fair. I couldn’t image doing a Fair right,” he said.

Workers of the stands were notified by a letter, according to some of those staff members.

The brand is so popular, its sausage sandwich has become a staple synonymous with the State Fair itself.

In addition to thousands of fairgoers, Gianelli sausage was a favorite of State Fair VIPs and elected leaders who visited.

President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton ordered from the stand during their Fair visit in 2000, when Clinton was running for Senate.

More recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul often sought out the stand on their visits.

In a statement to NewsChannel 9, State Fair Director Troy Waffner confirmed two other well-known vendors won’t be returning for the 2021 State Fair: Baker’s Chicken Coop and Haddock’s Paddock.

Waffner writes: “We thank them for their many years of dedication to fairgoers and the hard work they put in to help build our fair into one of the nation’s greatest and largest. These vendors will be greatly missed, but they are welcome to return at any point in the future.”

Waffner reminded Fair fans that Gianelli-brand sausage will be available from other food vendors.


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