The Great New York State Fair kicked off Thursday with a ribbon cutting by Governor Andrew Cuomo followed by some major announcements.

After touring the newly transformed fairgrounds, Cuomo announced that IndyCar racing will be returning to Watkins Glen International.

IndyCar will race at Watkins Glen in 2017 and 2018, beginning with the IndyCar Gran Prix on Labor Day weekend September 1-4.

All visitors who bought a ticket to the State Fair will get $5 off entry to the IndyCar Grand Prix on Labor Day Weekend.

"The great New York State Fair is a central piece of our history, culture and economy, and with these unprecedented renovations, we are making it bigger and better than before," Governor Cuomo said. "From the largest ever midway and the completely designed main gate to the Empire RV park and the brand-new Taste New York market, the Fair has undergone a transformation that is going to attract new visitors and continue driving economic growth in the region. By bringing IndyCar back to Watkins Glen, we are creating jobs, driving tourism and continuing to move Upstate New York forward. I encourage New Yorkers and visitors alike to come and check out the State Fair this summer and experience the very best the Empire State has to offer."

Governor Andrew Cuomo's Flickr Page

New in 2016, you will be able to enter to win lifetime passes to the Fair!

Every hour between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., eight lifetime passes to the Fair will be given away. To be entered in the random drawing for the passes, simply stop by the I LOVE NY pavilion and register with your name, address and phone number.

Winners will be announced by the New York Lottery's Yolanda Vega.

Follow Governor Cuomo on his tour of the NYS Fair

Also this year the first 5,000 people to enter the fair will get a commemorative New York State Fair t-shirt. You can get the shirts at gates 1-4 when you arrive.

"We have worked hard this past year to implement the Governor's plan, showing the world that the Great New York State Fair is not only the oldest fair in the Nation, but it is also the greatest fair in the Nation," said acting Fair Director Troy Waffner. "The fairgrounds have been reinvigorated and the changes will leave a lasting impression - from the beautiful new gate that will greet our visitors to the more open, comfortable midway. I can't wait for fairgoers to visit us and see all the changes we have in store for them."

For more information you can visit the NYS Fair Website.