NY Fair Thinks Freely

In a sign of the times, the New York State Fair is expected to change its live entertainment philosophy for the 2009 edition, booking more free shows into the Chevy Court and fewer hard-ticket shows at the grandstand.

The fair has issued a second Request for Proposals to promoters and, to accommodate the RFP, the budget for Chevy Court has increased from $450,000 to $750,000 and the Grandstand budget is reduced from $3.5 million to $2.5 million.

“The New York State Fair has been one of the few fair venues in the nation to offer eleven consecutive nights of national entertainment,” New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said in a statement. The state ag department oversees the fair.

“With only 10 percent of fairgoers attending these concerts and the state of the national economy, it makes sense to provide more high quality, free acts at Chevy Court, even if it means offering fewer nights of paid entertainment at the Grandstand.”

Live Nation and fair director Dan O’Hara came under fire earlier this year when O’Hara awarded LN a no-bid contract to oversee fair entertainment for the 2008 season.

Although Live Nation said it sold more tickets to the fair this year than in years past, it did not meet the requirements of the original RFP, according to the fair. A Live Nation representative did not return a request for comment at press time.

Deadline for the second RFP is Dec. 1.