It may be the glittering lights, the heart-pounding coasters, or the promise of new memories that attract thousands of visitors to the Great New York State Fair. Whatever your reason, one thing's for sure—there's a lot of fun in store. From wild cats to live music and the tastiest fair foods, here's what's new and happening at the 2016 Great New York State Fair!

Thursday August 25th - Monday September 5th 

7 new rides & carnival thrills

NYS Fair - Stampede Ride

Whether you're an adrenaline junkie or not, the fair's brand new rides will have you hooked. Hop on the Street Fighter 360, a massive claw that spins and swirls riders 50 feet in the air, or the Wiggle Wurm, a soft bouncing ride made just for kids. With seven new rides of all types, there's a lot to be excited about. And make sure you ride the Stampede, a new double Ferris wheel with a twist—the seats are attached to the outside of the wheel so riders face out. Get your tickets in advance here.

Wild Cats

NYS Fair - Wild Cats
"Ensuring the Future of Wildcats," this exhibit is put on by Hawk Creek Wildlife Center, a feline conservation facility in New York State. Fairgoers will be able to learn about these endangered cats and see them up close. Featuring the Eurasian Lynx, Geoffroy Cat, Serval, and Cougar, guests will learn from the experts, ask questions and get an up-close view at this amazing exhibit that has been seen on the National Geographic Channel, The Today Show, Rachael Ray, and Conan O'Brien.

Stingray Exhibit

NYS Fair - Stingrays Exhibit
You know them as graceful sea creatures—now get up close with these beauties. This interactive exhibit lets you safely touch and view stingrays while you learn more about these wonderful creatures from knowledgeable educators and videos. Free of charge, it's the world's only traveling, self-contained Stingray Exhibit

12 Days of Free entertainment at Chevy Court

NYS Fair - Photo Courtesy of The Great New York State Fair

The historic buildings surrounding the Stan Colella Stage got a major makeover. With looks this good and entertainment for free, you're guaranteed to have an amazing time. From August 25th to September 5th, fairgoers can catch two free shows a day from top artists including Ke$ha, Macy Gray, Dashboard Confessional, Flo Rida, and more. Find the full music lineup here.

The New York Harvester

NYS Fair - New York Harvester
If you thought fried Oreos were your tastiest guilty pleasure—think again. This year, the state fair unveils the New York Harvester—all your Thanksgiving dinner favorites, deep-fried between two thick slices of sourdough bread and perfected with cranberry sauce and savory gravy. Think tender turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cheese, and bacon, all deep-fried and all made with fresh, local New York products.

Ride for $5 entry 

If you love a good deal, this has your name written all over it. Ride your bicycle to the state fair and gain full admission for only $5. There will be a group ride Wednesday August 31st at 9:30 am from the salt museum in Syracuse through the west shore bike trail to the main gate!

Butterfly Exhibit

NYS Fair - Blue Morpho butterfly

The thousands of live butterfly that enchant fairgoers every year will be joined by 20 exotic breeds including Costa Rica's electric blue Blue Morpho, the wide-winged Paper Kite of Asia, the white spotted Postman of Africa and the Scarlet Mormon of the Philippines. Only $2 admission, come experience the colorful world of butterflies.

Pride Day & more Special Fair Days 

NYS Fair - Photo Courtesy of The Great New York State

The only State Fair in the U.S. to host its own Pride Day, the annual all-day event on Friday, August 26th will include a flag-raising ceremony, LGBT choirs, and a parade at 6 pm. In the evening, guest speaker Candis Cayne from I am Cait will discuss her career, life, transition and what it means to live life as her truly happy, authentic self. Come to celebrate the culture and community and find more Special Fair Days here. 

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