Twin portraits of bandleader and music educator Stan Colella hang above the stage at the New York State Fair’s Chevrolet Court in recognition of his many years of service as the Fair’s music director. The stage was named for Colella in 2002, a fitting tribute for his many years of dedication.
The Grandstand stage has thus far not been similarly named for any individual, but it’s time to change that. As marketing director at the Fair for 32 years, the late Joe LaGuardia booked the entertainment at the Grandstand and built that music series into one of the Fair’s marquee attractions. The fact that signing acts at both the Grandstand and Chevy Court was only one of the important jobs LaGuardia tackled with skill, poise and excellence for more than three decades makes a clear case that the Grandstand stage should be named the Joe LaGuardia Stage. The idea was posited by Syracuse New Times photographer Michael Davis.
Such an honor by the Fair would follow a well-established precedent set not only at Chevy Court, but also at several major buildings on the grounds named for individuals who were instrumental in making the New York State Fair one of the nation’s best. When asked for reaction to the idea of naming the Grandstand stage for LaGuardia, who died May 14, Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets Darrel Aubertine was non-committal. Aubertine spokeswoman Jessica Ziehm said he would consider it if a written proposal was submitted, a bureaucratic response to a suggestion that for Fair fans is the ultimate no-brainer.
Another high-visibility community asset, the Syracuse Chiefs have already honored LaGuardia, announcing on June 5 that their players would sport a patch with the name “Joe” on the left sleeve of their uniforms for the remainder of the 2012 baseball season. LaGuardia had been on the Chiefs’ board of directors and served on the Chiefs’ Third Base, Inc., Night committee, having been that group’s treasurer at the time of his death. He was also credited by Chiefs general manager John Simone with lending his marketing talents at Alliance Bank Stadium, bringing in concerts by the Dave Matthews Band and Bob Dylan.
The Fair had its own big names among the hundreds LaGuardia brought in, from Charley Pride in 1976 to Hilary Duff in 2007, and when considered along with his contributions to infrastructure improvements, marketing efforts and public relations management, it’s apparent that time is short to send out the press releases announcing the naming of the Joe LaGuardia Stage. There are only nine weeks left to get it done before State Fair 2012 opens.