11 Cheap, Free, or Cool Finds in the Center of Progress Building at the 2022 NY State Fair


Syracuse, NY – We visited the Center of Progress building to help you navigate the massive conglomeration of sights and sounds.

There’s a LOT of stuff in there. When we were kids my mom used to drag us here and honestly it was basically a torture chamber full of weird, unidentifiable cleaners and gadgets.

But as an adult, the options are much more relevant. There are cocktail bombs! There’s sangria in a huge mason jar! There are endless options to relieve any joint or muscle that might be hurting you! There’s a guy wearing a giant head of garlic on his own head!

And who among us doesn’t need a device without batteries! – can clean up pet hair and a slew of nails that spilled onto your floors?

Here is what we found:

Gary Wren, the Garlic Guy, in front of his line of garlic products at the 2022 New York State Fair.

Garlic guy

Who: California Garlic Festival

Where: Right midfielder. First driveway on the right when entering the main entrance.

How much: Varied

Why it’s great: Let’s face it, if you’re willing to wear a garlic hat for the duration of the State Fair, you deserve the attention. That said, this is a garlic lover’s paradise. Garlic Gary offers sauces, marinated garlic, garlic mustard, garlic stuffed olives, rubs, tapenade, salsa – not to mention giant pots of garlic cloves. If you cook, you have to visit Gary.


MGK Shoe

The guys at Shoe MGK can help restore your dirty sneakers and shoes in the Center of Progress building at the 2022 NY State Fair.

MGK shoe

Who: MGK shoe

Where: Back left. Last row of the main entrance.

How much: $40 for starting size, $65 for MVP.

Why it’s great: You have shoes/trainers. They get dirty. And no self-respecting sneakerhead can exist in the world with dirty shoes. They have to be pristine to impress. This stuff works on leather, suede, nubuck, fabric, canvas, nylon. It conditions. He cleans. It might even help you get a jump shot.


Manor Sangria

Bo Dibuono explains his creation, which is essentially sangria in a giant jar, at the 2022 NY State Fair Center of Progress building.

Manor Sangria

Who: Manor Sangria

Where: On the far right, second row, near the doors.

Cost: $30 for a 750ml jar (same size as a bottle of wine)

Why it’s great: I mean, it’s ready-made sangria in a huge mason jar. Need I say more? This is for people who love sangria but hate cutting up all the fruit that makes it great. Bo Dibuono, the founder, talked about “fresh from scratch” and “three varieties”, then tried to explain oxidation and wine. The only essential point of discussion: it’s ready-to-drink sangria in a jar.



Gripstics, here in the Center of Progress building at the 2022 NY State Fair, helps preserve your food from spoilage.


Who: Griptic

Where: On the far right of the building, near the doors.

Cost: Ranges from $23 for lots of ‘sticks’ to $39 for a set of three ‘snap bags’.

why it’s awesome: OK, this is an article I would have rolled my eyes at when I was a kid. But now? I can’t tell you how many chip bag clips, plastic containers, etc. are currently wasting space in my kitchen cabinets. These allow you to save and keep your stuff JUST IN THE BAG you bought it in. Genius.


Cocktail bombs

The “Cocktail Bombs” come in 19 different flavors and cost $5 for one, or six for $25. If you buy two, you get two free.

Cocktail bombs

Who: Cocktail Bomb Shop

Where: progress center building

How much: $5 each, or six for $25. If you buy six, you get two free.

Why it’s great: A cocktail bomb is a “like a bath bomb” for your drink, the workers at the Cocktail Bomb Shop promise. Choose between 19 fruity flavors to spice up your soft drinks and alcoholic cocktails a little. Flavors include ice cream, pina colada, blue raspberry, and raspberry lemonade. Drop them in eight ounces of water, White Claw, vodka and watch them fizz and dissolve. Containing only natural ingredients, Cocktail Bombs are gluten-free, vegan and do not expire.


Arks and boats

The Arks and Barks store sells these NFL-licensed signs for $12.95. There are also signs for Syracuse University football and the New York Mets and Yankees. They also have a variety of other items to show your allegiance to your favorite dog.

NFL Dog Signs

Who: Arks and boats

Where: progress center building

How much: $12.99

Why it’s great: Few things inspire more allegiance than a person’s dog and their NFL team. The Arks and Barks store in the Center of Progress Building combines these two great loves in these fun wood and rope signs. Because all anyone really “needs is (favorite team here) football and my dog”. Every NFL club is represented and there are also signs from Syracuse University and the New York Yankees and Mets. Not a sports fan? The store has a variety of other dog and cat themed items including hats, t-shirts, yard flags, mugs, squeeze packs for your drinks, and more.


silly socks

The Silly Sock Shop in the Center of Progress Building at the 2022 New York State Fair has just about every activity or interest on a sock. Pairs are $7 each or you can get four for $20.

silly socks

Who: The silly sock shop

Where: progress center building

How much: $7 each, two pairs for $12, four pairs for $20. Pair of socks offered with the purchase of four.

Why it’s great: The Silly Sock Shop sells socks, many of them, in just about every color and adorned with every animal, food, activity or hobby you can think of. “We have something for everyone,” says Patsy Ryan who oversaw the store. The socks are called “serious socks for not-so-serious people”. Get four pairs for $20 and say goodbye to boring white, brown and black socks.



Relieve all your stress with these adorable “Star Wars” and Disney stress balls at the Yogibo store in the Center of Progress Building. Licensed characters are $10. Yogibo characters are $8.

Star Wars stress balls

Who: Yogibo

Where: progress center building

How much: $10

Why it’s great: After a long day at the New York State Fair, you might be ready to unwind at night and relieve some pent up stress. These “Star Wars” stress balls are great for whichever side of the Force you’re on. On the dark side? Squeeze Yoda. If you consider yourself a Jedi, take on Darth Vader. They cost $10 and the store expects to see a bunch of them during the fair. They also have Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck balls for the same price and their own Yogibo characters for $8. While you’re there, check out their full line of furniture, “Star Wars” plush toys, and “Big Huggers.”


A person is holding a first aid kit

A New York State Workers’ Compensation Board first aid kit at the New York State Fair, August 24, 2022. Kevin Tampone | ktampone@syracuse.comKevin Tampon | ktampone@syracuse.com

First aid kit

Who: New York State Workers’ Compensation Board

Where: Center of Progress, a bit to the right of the sand sculpture if you face it head-on

How much: Free

Why it’s great: It’s useful! Inside this slim case you will find four plasters, an antibiotic ointment and an alcohol wipe. Put it in your pocket for your day at the fair in case you take a head after too much wine mush. Or take it home and store it in a purse, backpack or your car.


Massage chairs lined up inside a building at the New York State Fair

JPMedics massage chairs at the New York State Fair, August 24, 2022.Kevin Tampon | ktampone@syracuse.com

Try a massage chair for free

Who: JPMedics

Where: Progress Center, about half way down the driveway directly to your right as you walk through the central entrance doors to the building

How much: free trial

Why it’s great: Chairs from JPMedics are up for best of many massage gadgets at the Center of Progress. And you don’t just get a 10 second session – your trial is a full massage program that lasts several minutes. Your back, neck, arms, legs and feet all attract attention and the chair fully reclines. If you’re looking for a few minutes of rejuvenation after hours on your feet, you could do a lot worse than that.


A person is holding pencils and an activity book

Crayons and an activity book from the New York State Energy and Environment Experience at the New York State Fair, August 24, 2022.Kevin Tampon | ktampone@syracuse.com

coloring stuff

Who: New York State Energy and Environment Experience

Who: New York State

Where: Center progress to the far left of the building if you’re facing it head-on.

How much: Free

Why it’s great: The fair is great for kids, but at some point they’ll probably need a break, a distraction, or both. There are tons of kid-friendly treats inside this New York State-run space at the Center of Progress, including free activity books and stacks of free crayons. A stand even distributed fake helmets. The kids ate it all on opening day.


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