Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
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May 19, 2016

“Star Spangled Challenge” National Anthem Competition Returns to the Great New York State Fair

Can you hit the high notes of America’s National Anthem?  The Great New York State Fair is looking for the next 12 New Yorkers who want to help the entire state celebrate “the land of the free and the home of the brave” at the nation’s oldest state fair. The Fair’s “Star Spangled Challenge” returns this year after a very successful inaugural competition, Acting Fair Director Troy Waffner announced today.

Competition submissions can be made beginning today through June 8, 2016 at  Competitors should create and submit short videos that show them performing “The Star Spangled Banner.”  New this year, a panel of judges will narrow the entries to 20 finalists.  Public voting then begins on a special page on the Fair’s Facebook site, and the 12 competitors with the highest vote totals will be selected to sing the anthem on one of the Fair’s 12 days.

“This was one of the most successful events we ran last year.  New Yorkers from all across the state wanted a chance to show their American pride at the Fair and fairgoers told us they loved hearing the different voices and styles.  I can’t wait to see and hear this year’s entries,” said Waffner.

The inaugural competition in 2015 drew 263 entries from 35 counties representing every region of the state.  A 10 year old girl from Ilion, a registered nurse from Staten Island, a soldier from Fort Drum, and a member of the New York State Police who has been a part of the State Fair detail were among the winning performers.

To enter the challenge, contestants should create videos no longer than three minutes of themselves performing the first verse of “The Star Spangled Banner.”  Performers can sing alone or in groups, and instrumental-only versions are allowed.  There are two ways to enter the competition:

Entries must be uploaded or emailed by midnight, June 8, 2016.  All entries, however they are submitted, must include the performer’s name, address and phone number.  Emailed entries will be added to the contest site by Fair staff by the next business day.  Four judges will select 20 finalists.  Judges are:

  • Frank Malfitano, Founder and Executive Producer of the Syracuse Jazz Fest
  • Todd Hobin, singer/songwriter, composer of scores for film, TV and audiobooks, and adjunct professor in the music department at LeMoyne College
  • Sistina Giordano, co-host of “Bridge Street” on Syracuse’s NewsChannel 9
  • Troy Waffner, NYS Fair Acting Director

Public voting on the 20 finalists begins June 14 and runs through midnight, July 3.  The 12 contestants with the most votes will be chosen to sing the anthem on the Chevy Court stage at 9:58 a.m. and again at approximately 1 p.m. in the Toyota Coliseum on their performance day, which will be assigned at a later date. People are limited to one vote per person and are encouraged to share the competition with their Facebook friends to help their chosen candidate.

Winners will be announced on July 5.  They will be notified of the date of their performance prior to the opening of the Fair.  Each winner will also receive four admission tickets, a parking pass and a $40 voucher good for purchases at the Fair’s food stands.

The New York State Fair, operated by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, runs from August 25 to September 5, 2016.  The Fair’s mission, reflected in its theme, “Summer’s Best in Show,” is to showcase the best of New York agriculture while providing top-quality entertainment.  

In addition to the annual New York State Fair, the Fairgrounds host dozens of agricultural events throughout the year, including some of the Northeast’s most prestigious horse and livestock shows.

The home of the Great New York State Fair is a 375-acre exhibit and entertainment complex that operates all year. A year-round schedule of events is available on the Fair’s website.  Find The Great New York State Fair on Facebook, follow @NYSFair on Twitter, and enjoy photos from the Fair at Also, New Yorkers are invited to send their ideas for the Great New York State Fair at

2016 Press Releases