Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jola Szubielski 518-457-0752
Dave Bullard 315-487-7711 x 1377

August 26, 2016

50th Anniversary of Music History at the Fair to be Celebrated with Special Performance from 100 Year-Old “Carousel Queen” Organ

The Empire State Theatre & Musical Instrument Museum will celebrate its 50th anniversary at the 2016 New York State Fair with a special performance from a 100-year-old band organ, Acting Fair Directory Troy Waffner announced today. The museum is located in the Art & Home Center and will feature a diverse collection of 19th and 20th century music.

“The Musical Instrument Museum is one of the hidden gems of the Fair,” said Waffner. “There, you hear music from a different era that is beautifully unique. I strongly believe this is a must-see for everyone visiting the Fair.”

The 50th anniversary celebration will feature a fully restored 100 year-old band organ called the “Carousel Queen.” Built in 1916 by the North Tonawanda Musical Instrument Works, the “Carousel Queen” will play classical carnival music on the front lawn of the Art & Home Center the first weekend of the Fair (August 27 to 28). A video of the band organ playing can be found here.

“This year we are showing antique musical instruments, phonographs and movie projection equipment that have never before been on public display,” said Museum President and Empire Theatre Superintendent Phillip A. Edwards. “The 2016 Fair will have the largest display ever for the public to see and interact with. This is the year to come to the museum.”

The Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ will also be playing in the Empire Theatre, where it is permanently installed. Built in 1925, the 700+ pipe Wurlitzer will play a variety of music—from classical to modern pop— throughout the Fair. A video of the Wurlitzer playing can be found here.

The museum will also offer fairgoers the opportunity to play antique instruments, such as a 103 year-old Kohler & Campbell Player Piano.

In addition, preserved instruments such as parlor reed organs, wind-up phonographs and records, vintage radios, music boxes and home film and slide projection equipment featuring 1900’s news reels and World War I battle film will be on display in the Empire Theater’s first floor main hall. Entrance to the museum is free with Fair entry. The museum will be accepting donations to help pay for the maintenance of the instruments.

A full schedule for the Empire Theatre can be found here.

The Musical Instrument Museum was established in 1966 and was the first organization to use the fairgrounds year-round. The museum was chartered by the New York State Board of Regents as an educational organization dedicated to the restoration and preservation of musical instruments. It exemplifies the important role music played in the lives of 19th and 20th century Americans. The New York State Fair is the only state fair in the United States to display a Wurlitzer theatre organ.

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, "FIND YOUR GREAT," is to showcase the best of New York agriculture while providing top-quality entertainment.

The 375-acre New York State Fairgrounds is undergoing the most significant transformation since it first opened its gates in 1890. The $50 million plan, announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, revitalizes the grounds in many ways, improving the quality of the fairgoer’s experience and providing greater economic benefits for the region. Improvements include the dramatic new Main Gate— the arches of which recall the carriage gate that greeted fairgoers in 1900, a larger, 15-acre Wade Shows Midway that will hold more rides than ever, and the brand new 315-site Empire RV Park with underground water, sewer and electrical service. The plan will better position the New York State Fairgrounds as a premier year-round, multi-use facility that can attract more events and visitors from across the nation. Renderings can be viewed here.

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, on Snapchat at nysfair and enjoy photos from the Fair at Also, New Yorkers are invited to send their ideas for the Great New York State Fair at

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