A visual history of the oldest state fair in the country

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New York State Fair
The Great New York State Fair is the oldest in the United States, having first started in 1841 in Syracuse.  All these years later, it's still held in Syracuse and has become one of the largest state fairs in the country.  Step back in time and check out how this amazing fair has grown.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1849
Here's what the state fairgrounds looked like in 1849.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1941
Sol Castle & Isadore Maloff shake hands for a snapshot.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1954
Fairgoers enjoy a tasty lunch on the grounds.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1954
You could enjoy a ride on the Octopus for just 25 cents in 1954.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1954
The Great New York State Fair began as a gathering for the New York State Agricultural Society.  Naturally, that includes animal exhibits like the one seen here.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1954
Little ones enjoy a train ride.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1954
The fair would also include a live game exhibit, in addition to animals like cows and chickens.
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1955
You'd also be able to enjoy all manner of car racing and stunt driving from the grandstand seats.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1955
A view of the Dairyland exhibit from 1955.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1956
Children enjoy a day at the fair in 1956.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1956
The lights of the carousel shine on fairgoers.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1956
A view of the midway, complete with a "Fool the Guesser" stand.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1957
25 cents would gain you admission to the Laff House.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1957
Car racing could be enjoyed at the fair back in 1957.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1957
Both Gene Autry and Annie Oakley made appearances.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1958
The rodeo also made a splash.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1958
Model fallout shelters were on display during the days of the Cold War.
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1958
Smokey Bear was on hand to remind fair guests about fire safety.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1959
A wild ride on the Round Up.
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1959
Baton twirling was all the rage.
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1959
A view of the some of the 1959 fair court.
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1961
A tasting of famous New York apples takes place.
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1961
Fairgoers could enjoy a sample at the potato booth.
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1969
"Creative Cooking" takes place in the baking competitions.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1969
The tractor pull was a popular attraction.
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1969
If you were at the fair in 1969, you could've been amazed by this jetpack demonstration.
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1980
Jumping forward over a decade to 1980, the fair appears to have grown in popularity.
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1981
Though the fair has changed over time, animals are still very much a part of the exhibitions in 1981.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1981
An agriculture princess shows off some of the best that New York has to offer.
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1983
Grandstand concerts now take place on a dedicated concert stage by 1983.
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1986
The Great New York State Fair is known for its stellar concert lineups.  Amy Grant performed back in 1986.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1987
Children's rides look a bit different in 1987 than they did during the 1950s but are enjoyed just the same.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1987
An aerial view of the 1987 state fair shows just how large the event has become.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1987
An antique car show impresses fair attendees.
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1988
Entrance to the 1988 Great New York State Fair.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1988
Crowds of people enjoy the annual fair.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1989
A woman admires the floral beauty of the horticultural show.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1989
Roller coasters are included in the vast assortment of fair rides.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1989
Enjoying the view over the carousel.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1989
A beautiful nighttime look at the 1989 state fair.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
1989
A Wizard of Oz-themed sculpture made completely of butter impresses.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
2017
Nearly 30 years later, the Great New York State Fair is staying true to its roots with animal exhibits and competitions still taking place.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
2017
Butter sculptures make an appearance every year. 2017's "Dairy Farmers' Tribute to New York State Troopers" commemorated the NYSP's 100-year anniversary.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
2017
State fair food has become one of the biggest draws over the years with both traditional and wackier concoctions making the rounds.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
2017
Bret Michaels was one of many performers in the 2017 concert series.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
2018
The 2018 fair kicked off on August 22nd, leading with an awe-inspiring butter sculpture. 
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
2018
Fair rides push the limits on the midway.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
2018
Speaking of pushing boundaries, one of the crazier food options available at the 2018 fair is popcorn frozen with liquid nitrogen.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair
2018
In keeping with their amazing concert lineups, the Great New York State Fair had Blondie perform on opening day.
Photo courtesy of Great New York State Fair