New York

First-Ever Drone Racing and Technology Event to Take Place at State Fairgrounds’ Expo Center

16 Nov, 2018

The new Exposition Center at the New York State Fairgrounds will host the Empire Drone Expo and Racing Competition, the first event of its kind in Upstate New York.

The event highlights the state’s investment of more than $40 million to support the development of unmanned aerial systems technology. It will feature New York State’s largest micro-drone race, drone pilot training classes, STEM education programs, exhibits showcasing Upstate drone technology companies, award-winning international videos from the Great New York State Fair’s Drone Film Festival, and more.

The Expo and Racing Competition takes place Saturday, Nov. 17 and Sunday, Nov. 18 and complements CNY Rising, the region’s comprehensive strategy to revitalize communities and grow the economy.

Organized by Finger Lakes Drone Racing in cooperation with MultiGP, the Empire Drone Expo is a collaboration among local organizations passionate about this new technology, including NUAIR Alliance, SkyOp, Camillus Indoor Aviators, NYS Drone Film Festival, CNY Drone Works, Dropcopter, Thales, Scherzi Systems LLC, Visit Syracuse, CenterState CEO and High Point Aerial. Admission to the event is free; racing competitors can pay entry fees here. MultiGP describes itselfas the world’s largest drone racing league and sanctions regional, national and international championships.

Drone racing has become a popular sport, with top professional races being broadcast on national television. In the Fairgrounds’ Expo Center, drones will race in groups through a series of obstacles that test a pilot’s ability to turn the vehicle up, down, left and right at full speed while avoiding collisions. Empire Drone Expo attendees are also invited to learn how to fly a drone, take Part 107 commercial drone pilot certification classes and connect with local organizations in the industry. The event will have a special emphasis on STEM educational programs, offering hands-on workshops, seminars and lectures for all age groups. Flight simulators will also show attendees what it’s like to fly an unmanned vehicle. A full schedule of events is available here.

Drone technology is reshaping the world -- assisting with everything from infrastructure inspection to plant pollination -- and is creating a major new industry in Central New York. Governor Cuomo’s investment of more than $40 million in the federally-designated drone technology development region between Syracuse and Rome has created jobs and attracted high-tech companies pursuing innovative ideas for using unmanned aerial technology.

The Drone Expo will be the third event new to Upstate New York that will be held in the new Expo Center at the Fairgrounds since its opening during the Great New York State Fair in August. The 110,000 square foot building, which is the largest clear-span exhibit space north of New York City between Boston and Cleveland, is the most recent element of Governor Cuomo’s $120 million plan to revitalize the nation’s oldest state fair and fairgrounds. The building was constructed to attract major new events that previously would not consider Upstate New York in the past due to a lack of suitable space, providing a significant boost to the tourism industry and economic benefits to the entire region.

State Fair Director Troy Waffner said, “We’re pleased to be working with the event organizers to bring this exciting new event to Upstate New York. With each new event, we’re realizing the Governor’s vision of an Expo Center that is a major driver of tourism and economic growth for the region.”

Drone Expo Coordinator Rich Bellamy said, "Finger Lakes Drone Racing is excited for the unique opportunity to showcase many different facets of the drone community under one roof. There will truly be something for everyone---spectators, hobbyists, and professionals of all ages are sure to enjoy the wide array of interactive programming we've put together."

Accelerating CNY Rising: Today's announcement complements “Central NY Rising,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $5.6 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Central NY Rising with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs. More information is available 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 Fairgrounds’ website. Find the Great New York State Fair on Facebook, follow @NYSFair on Twitter, on Snapchat at nysfair and enjoy photos at the Fair’s Flickr photo archive. Also, New Yorkers are invited to send their ideas for the Great New York State Fair at  


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