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NYS Fair Director Hennessey leaving, interim director appointed

By Eric Reinhardt (



Julie LaFave, operations director for the New York State Fair, will serve as the Fair’s interim director as the search for a permanent director continues. LaFave’s appointment follows the announcement that previous director Sean Hennessey is leaving for a role with the New York State Department of Labor. (Photo credit: New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets)

GEDDES, N.Y. — New York State Fair Executive Director Sean Hennessey is leaving the role for a new job with the New York State Department of Labor.

Julie LaFave, operations director of the NYS Fair, will also serve as the Fair’s interim director while the search for a permanent director continues, Hanna Birkhead, associate director of public information with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets told CNYBJ in an email.

In a statement provided by the department, Hennessey will serve as the Commissioner of Labor’s regional representative in my home area of the North Country. 

“I’m incredibly proud to have directed the Fair since 2022 and to have been a part of the achievements realized during that time,” Hennessey said in the statement. “Over the past two years, the team at the Fair has successfully revived the complete Fair experience post-pandemic, helped fairgoers experience an unmatched variety of musical acts — some of which were record breaking, launched new family-friendly exhibits and the inaugural Asian Village, and solidified the Fair’s established presence as a hub of entertainment, all while maintaining the Fair’s deeply rooted tradition in New York State agriculture.”

LaFave also provided a statement, indicating that the work preparing for this summer’s is ongoing and will continue.

“The State Fair has an incredible, talented staff that is working hard to bring fairgoers the very best State Fair yet this summer.  I’m honored to be a part of the team and to provide my support during this transition,” LaFave said. “Having had the experience of working closely with Sean over the last year and through an incredibly successful Fair, I feel ready to hit the ground running as Interim Director as we enter the 2024 Fair season. I look forward to building on his work with our team to bring New Yorkers another great year at the Great New York State Fair.”

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball thanked Hennessey for his time and effort as the State Fair’s director and “can say without a doubt that we are in capable hands” under the direction of LaFave as interim director, per a statement that the department provided.



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