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Special Events,  Syracuse

Love Swag? Here are the Best Freebies at the NY State Fair This Year

Last updated on August 29, 2023.

When I was a kid, I remember going to the state fair and being so excited to pick up all the freebies. Growing up poor, the trivial swag from New York companies felt like little presents. Even today, it was a joy to watch my friends’ kids get excited about the little trinkets they picked up at the fair. But the adult in me also realizes the waste this causes, and the clutter that is added to my home. So I’m here to guide you to the best freebies at the NY State Fair this year. While not nearly as much as I remember as a kid, this swag is the most unique – and it’s useful.

If you find me at the fair and say hello, you can get a free Wandercuse sticker.
Plus, the first person who finds me will get a FREE Wandercuse Passport!

Of course, there are so many tables that offer pens, keychains, and tote bags. But a person can only use so many of these things! If you choose to collect these items, please consider donating them to a local school. There are bound to be kids who can’t afford basic school supplies and would greatly appreciate the help.

But the freebies in this list are different. They can serve a purpose. And they are scattered throughout the fair, creating a little scavenger hunt for you to enjoy. But because of their usefulness, try to find them grab yours before they are all gone.

On a related note, has anyone else noticed the lack of food freebies this year? I miss sampling all the cheese, ice creams, drinks and more. Those were some of the best highlights of fairs as a kid!

Most Eco-Friendly Freebie – Wildflower Seeds

The New York State Power Authority has quickly become one of my favorite exhibits at the fair over the past few years. The way they’ve incorporated live plants, education, and kid-friendly activities make it stand out from the (literal) crowd. As they’ve done in the past few years, the exhibit offers a passport program for kids to get stamped as they visit each of the 5 stations. At each spot, they can get a small freebie. But once they’ve filled the whole page, they are rewarded with a pack of wildflower seeds from the NYS Power Authority.

It’s also worth noting that the freebies at the stops along the way include carabiners, clip-on bicycle lights, and eco-friendly tote bags.

Most Personalized Freebie – I Love NY Photo

Every year the I Love NY stand is one of my favorites. Which is unsurprising, given my strong passion for the state I live in. Plus, it is usually super interactive and informative. This year, the I Love NY Booth is in the Expo Building and is filled with fun photo opps. When you enter the exhibit, you can get a quiz about some of New York’s most famous and most unique attractions. As you make your way through, you can find the answers among the various displays. Plus, there are lots of fun photo opportunities where you can take a photo “at” some of these locations. The hot-air balloon spot even has someone there to take your picture. The attendant prints it out for you to keep, and you can text it to yourself.

Plus, in the middle of the exhibit, there is a basket with eclipse glasses so you can be prepared for the solar eclipse next April! Before you leave, you can spin the giant wheel for a chance to win some more swag – hand sanitizer, sunglasses, pop sockets, buttons, and tote bags.

NY State Fair Photo Booth

Most Unexpected Freebie – Tick Remover

If you’re a fan of hiking throughout New York State’s beautiful parks and forests, you should be aware of the potential dangers. One of the worst? Ticks. Ticks tend to grab onto both people and animals, and have potential to carry awful diseases. Not only that, but they are very difficult to remove – and you have to make sure to get the entire bug. I was both shocked and appreciative to find that the CSEA table in the Center of Progress Building had tick removers as their freebies.

Best Freebie on a Hot Day – Reusable Fan

We all know that a day at the state fair can get hot. Very hot. Between the summer heat, hot pavement, crowds of people, and hundreds of food vendors… Yea, it gets toasty. So it’s best to be prepared – hydrate, seek shelter, and take breaks.

Many years ago, vendors started passing out cardboard fans, and they were the hit freebies of the NY state fair. (Remember when News Channel 9 used to hand out swag bags daily? Those were the days…) But without fail, those fans always ended up in trash cans. Or worse, tossed on the ground. So reusable fans for the win! And this year, OASAS in the Science & Industry Building has some awesome purple folding fans. They also have plastic water bottles to help you stay hydrated at the water fountains scattered around the fair. Grab yours and stay cool all throughout the fair! Then take it home to use on all the remaining hot days this season.

ANOTHER Reusable Fan

You thought one fan was great. How about TWO? Inside Gate 3, the Community Offshore Wind booth is giving away battery-operated fans. Yes, you have to sign up for their email list, but it’s worth it. Plus, there is a microchip in one of the fan blades that makes the fan spell out “Community Offshore Wind” when it’s spinning.

Most Practical Freebie – First Aid Kit

Without fail, the health area of the Science & Industry Building has the most practical freebies at the fair. Last year I grabbed an emergency foil blanket – which folds up small enough to fit in your pocket. This year I got a small first aid kit at the Citizens Preparedness Corps booth in the Science & Industry Building.

Check out the booth right next to it. Among all of the health brochures, you’ll also find packets of OFF wipes, perfect for keeping the bugs away.

Another Practical, But Random, Freebie – Umbrella

Radio stations often have some of the best swag you can find. I remember visiting one at the baseball stadium in the last few years and getting a free vinyl record. Yes, free. Now, the stands at the fair don’t have anything quite as good as that, there are some gems to be found. Visit the Cumulus Radio booth in front of the Science & Industry Building and spin the wheel. You’ll have a chance at a variety of prizes including keychains, bandanas, drawstring backpacks… and an umbrella. This one is clearly a winner, especially on rainy days at the fair.

Looking for more things to do at the New York State Fair? Check out this extensive list of fair activities.

Most Fun Freebie – Dinosaur Pop-It

Okay, this one may not be the most practical, but it is the most fun and the cutest. The LGBTG+ booth in the Science & Industry Building has adorable dinosaur pop-it keychains. Like I said, not useful in the typical sense. But if you are someone who fidgets and/or benefits from something like this, go grab yourself a cute lil’ dino.

Another Fun Freebie: Slinky

Because who doesn’t love a slinky? Especially when it’s rainbow-colored. Also inside gate 3, you’ll find a Hillside booth giving away small rainbow slinkies. Cute and fun. They are also looking for future employees and foster parents – so if that’s something you’re interested in, check out the booth.

(If you were at the fair on opening day, Micron had a fantastic booth with the best fidget spinners I’ve ever seen. My 30-something husband has been loving it since I brought one home for him…)

More Free Things at the New York State Fair

Be sure to visit the Taste NY section in the Horticulture Building to sample the items from the rotating vendors. So far this fair there has been whiskey, wine, salsas, mushrooms, tea, and more.

Find a worthwhile freebie I missed? Let me know what it is and where you found it!

Tell me your thoughts!