Saturday, August 31, 2013

New York State Fair Farmers' Market Really Something to Behold

There are only two days left (Sunday and Monday) for the New York State Fair.

Be sure, once inside the main gate, to stop at the Farmers' Market and check out the locally grown vegetables and fruits. 

Of course, you don't want to carry them around with you all day, so be sure to stop before you leave to buy some for dinner. Or tomorrow's dinner.


Happy International Bacon Day!

Today is International Bacon Day.

So let's all have my favorite sandwich -- a BLT.

Photo taken from a blog
Check out this website for more information than you've ever wanted on bacon.

Oh, and for all those bacon aficionados out there, here are a few things I found online for you by going to google, searching bacon and then clicking "images."

Photos of a suit made of bacon; a casket that looks like strips of
Photo take from a blog
bacon; Yankee Candles with the aroma of frying bacon; bacon-scented soap; bandages that look like strips of bacon; a sculpture of Kevin Bacon made of, you guessed it, bacon; gummy bacon candies; bacon frosting; bacon candy canes; a bacon coat for dogs; bacon jerky; bacon lip balm; bacon on a s'more; a bacon bra; a bacon tie; and a bacon costume for little kids.

So have a great bacon day, and kiss a pig to celebrate.

New York State Fair 'One Thing' Series -- Today's Feature, Floriculture

Garden display at the Men's Garden Club of Syracuse
While most people thing of agriculture as being a vegetable or a cow, one of the largest segments of agriculture in New York state is floriculture.

Yes, each spring when you head out to the nursery or greenhouse or garden center to pick up a tree, shrubs or some annual or perennial flowers to surround your home, you are participating in the floriculture industry.

New York state ranks ninth in the nation in floriculture, according to USDA statistics. Commercial sales from stores with more than $10,000 in sales totaled $169 million in 2012.

Bedding and garden plants was the largest segment of that at $102 million. That was followed by potted flowering plants, with sales of $26.6 million in the state.

There were 577 growers in 2012, using 25.2 million square feet of area to grow their flowers, plants, shrubs and trees.

I talked with Mary Haynes, of Syracuse, with the Men's Garden Club of Syracuse, at the club's display inside the Horticulture Building. She said the 'one thing' she wants the public to know is: "The backbone of all gardens is the soil." Without nutritious, properly worked soil, plants and flowers won't do well.

She went on to talk about the importance of knowing the sunlight, water and nutrition requirements of whatever you are planting.

Farm Succession Planning Conference Set for Sept. 24-25

Remember to sign up by Sept. 12 for this important conference.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Old Farm Tractors at the New York State Fair

Here are a couple of great old farm tractors on display at the New York State Fair. 

These were photographed during the daily parade:

New York State Fair 'One Thing' Series -- Today's Feature, Christmas Trees

Grand champion tree by Michael McDonald of Painted Post, Steuben County
Yes, it's really not the time of year people are thinking about Christmas trees.

But they are a big part of the New York state agricultural economy. The state ranks 11th in the country in Christmas trees and sales total about $21 million a year.

I met up with Mike Daniels, of Skaneateles, in the Christmas tree booth on the west end of the Horticulture Building. I asked him what 'one thing' he would like to tell the public about Christmas trees:

"They have a wonderful fragrance, they're fire resistant and they're traditional," he said. "You didn't have artificial trees 100 years ago. They are also a natural product and they're renewable -- when one is cut down, it is replaced when he plant two or three more."

The Christmas tree growers booth, located across from the troopers, comes complete with a decked out Christmas tree, a dancing Santa and even some "snow." 

There are 850 Christmas tree farmers in the state growing the following species of trees: Austrian pine, balsam fir, blue spruce, Canaan fir, Colorado spruce, concolor fir, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, Norway spruce, Scotch pine, white pine and white spruce. 

More than 17,000 acres of Christmas trees are grown in the state and 98 percent of all Christmas trees are grown on farms. Planting and growing Christmas trees are good for the environment as they remove more than 2,000 tons of carbon from the air and release about 5,800 ton of oxygen into the air.

According to the Christmas tree farmers website, Christmas trees remove dust and pollen from the air and an acre of trees provide the daily oxygen requirements for 18 people. Two to three seedlings are planted for every tree harvested at Christmas time.

And tree growers throughout the state participate in the Trees for Troops program, in which trees are donated to send to military service people overseas and to their families on bases in the states.

Young Farmers See Bright Future for Agriculture

A group of young farmers from Jefferson County recently got together to talk about their industry.

Go to to check out the story.

Fresh Ideas that Keep Farms Churning

This is a great story.

Check it out at this link.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

11 Boys, 8 Girls So Far at the New York State Fair Dairy Cow Birthing Centr

The count is at 11 bulls and eight heifers as of 12:05 today (Thursday) at the Dairy Cow Birthing Center at the New York State Fair.

Another bull was born today at 12:05 p.m.

Be sure to stop into the center over by the FFA and 4-H buildings.

Possible Names for New Dairy Seal Discussed on Dairy Line

Check out today's Dairy Line from Dairybusiness Communications.

Clayton Distillery Expands its Product Line

Go to to see the story.

New York State Fair 'One Thing' Series -- Today's Feature, Honey

Some of the different honey flavors at the New York State Fair.
When you venture inside the Horticulture Building at the New York State Fair, there are two sweet booths you just have to visit.

I already talked about one of them -- the Maple Producers Booth -- earlier in the week.

The other is right across from the maple folks. The Empire State Honey Producers have a wonderful booth filled with many different flavors of honey that visitors can sample and then buy.

Honey, of course, is that sweet nectar made by bees. Beekeepers across New York state tend to their hives religiously to keep the bees happy, working and making honey.

A hive of bees hard at work at the New York State Fair
 I went to the honey display and found Matt Mallory, who is a beekeeper in Syracuse. I asked him what "one thing" he would like to tell the public about honey:

"It's a natural sweetener, it's great tasting, and there are no preservatives or additives in it," he said. He also said the different flavors come from the different pollen the bees pick up during their travels.

Honey production in New York state from beekeepers with five or more hives was 2.65 million pounds in 2012. The number of bee colonies was 52,000, up from 49,000 the year before.

Beekeepers in New York on average got 51 pounds of honey per colony. The value of all the honey produced in the state in 2012 was $6.05 million.

Workers Tend Crops While In Boring Meetings

This is cool.

Check out this new type of farming in Japan.

New York Farmers Give Hops a Shot

Wall Street Journal gives hops farmers their due in this story.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

State Fair Gives Farmers a Chance to Educate Public About Food Production

A story about the State Fair in the Oneida Daily Dispatch.

An NPR Blogger Takes on GMOs

Story about GMOs from National Public Radio.

Check it out.

New York State Fair 'One Thing' Series -- Today's Feature, Sheep

A couple of sheep at the New York State Fair
Sheep aren't one of the largest agriculture entities in New York state, but they are important just the same.

When I stopped into the goat/sheep barn at the New York State Fair, I talked to sheep owner Cheryl Saxton of Ava, Oneida County. I asked her what 'One Thing' she would like the public to know about sheep.

"They really have a lot of personality," she said while looking over her animals. "And the thing we get asked most often is why they are wearing blankets. The blankets are to keep them clean. People
Another State Fair sheep
think they're to keep them warm." 

There are about 15 to 20 different sheep breeds on display at the state fair and many of them competed in the sheep shows earlier this week.

Of course, sheep are known for being sheared and their fleece being used to make wool fiber. Some also are used for meat and young sheep, called lambs, also are used as a well-known meat product.

Wool production in New York state increased from 2011 to 2012, from 210,000 pounds to 220,000 pounds. There were 70,000 sheep in the state on Jan. 1, 2013, up 13 percent from the 62,000 head a year before.

A total of 45,000 lambs were born in New York state in 2012.

National Security and the Farm Bill -- Wake Up D.C.

Check out this blog post from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Video Interview on Why the Dairy Cow Birthing Center is So Popular

Nice video explanation of why the Dairy Cow Birthing Center at the State Fair is so popular.

Check it out.

Empire Room at New York State Fair Serving NY Wines, Spirits

The new operators of the Empire Room at the New York State Fair are offering both New York wines and New York spirits for sale this year.

Last year, not quite sure what was going on. A vineyard owner emailed me after last year's fair to say the Empire Room wasn't selling one single New York wine.

A story from last year in the Steuben Courier Advocate headquartered in Bath stated only one New York wine -- from Glenora Wine Cellars -- was being sold at the Empire Room.

Of course, I couldn't verify anything because I received zero responses from three phone calls and two emails to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Anyway, this year, new Empire Room operators Jay and Kathy Bernhardt, owners of the Hotel Clarence in Seneca Falls and the Red Mill Inn in Baldwinsville, and Ben Eberhardt, who manages operations at the Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles and the Colgate Inn in Hamilton, have brought many New York state wines and spirits back to the Empire Room.

In fact from 2 to 4 p.m. today, there will be a wine tasting of wines from Glenora Wine Cellars on Seneca Lake. 

So congrats to the Empire Room for being a real Taste of New York.

Monday, August 26, 2013

New York State Fair 'One Thing' Series -- Today's Feature, Beef Cattle

Two Hereford beef cattle from Wayne County chow down at the NYS Fair
Today is Beef Day at the New York State Fair.

Be sure to check out the beef cattle in the beef cattle building at the back of the fair, not far from the FFA and 4-H sites.

You'll be able to see all types of beef cattle, including many of the most popular breeds such as Angus, Hereford, Limousin, Charolais, Simmental, Shorthorns and Red Angus.

I went out to the beef cattle building and found Lori Wheeler, of Newark, Wayne County, who was unloading her Herefords for the fair. I asked her what 'One Thing' she would like the public to know about beef cattle and beef farming:

"Beef is a growing industry but with the economy, it is getting harder and harder to raise beef cattle," she said. She also said when people go to the grocery store to buy beef, they should look at the grading system -- prime cuts are tops, followed by select and then choice.

There were 90,000 beef cattle in New York state as of Jan. 1. But beef replacement heifers were up 8 percent from 2012 at 41,000 head.    

Have a great Beef Day at the fair. And also be sure to stop into the New York Beef Industry Council exhibit in the Dairy Products Building to see demonstrations on how to prepare beef and veal and pick up handy brochures about beef cuts and what to do with them.

Police Kill Lizard Going After Chickens

Go to to see the Associated Press story.

Syracuse Radio Station Wins Dairy Day Milkshake/Smoothie Contest at New York State Fair

Movin' 100.3 radio station in Syracuse won the milkshake/smoothie making contest during Dairy Day at the New York State Fair Monday.

It was the radio station's first time entering the contest. Not a bad outcome, huh?

Holstein Foundation Auctioning Embryos

Holstein Foundation is auctioning off embryos.

Go to for more information. Hurry. Auction ends Thursday, Aug. 29.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

New York State Fair 'One Thing' Series -- Today's Feature, Dairy Cattle

A dairy cow looks pretty at the camera at the State Fair.
Today is Dairy Day at the New York State Fair.

We get all that great milk from the various dairy breeds that are raised throughout New York state. The most popular breed is the Holstein, which is the ever-common black and white cows that dot the countryside across the state.

Other popular breeds in New York state are Jersey, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Red and White Holsteins, Ayrshires, Milking Shorthorns and Dutch Belted.

Two dairy cows relax at the NYS Fair
Some of the delicious items made from New York state dairy milk include cheese, yogurt and ice cream.

New York state has recently been named the yogurt capital of the United States, with three large yogurt plants (Chobani, Fage and Muller) up and running in the state. 

I caught up with Pat Lundy, a dairy farmer from Granville, Washington County, in the dairy cattle building at the State Fair and asked him what 'One Thing' he would like the public to know about dairy cattle and dairy farming:

"I want the public to know they can't judge all of us on the one-half percent of farmers you see hte animal rights people talking about," Lundy said. "99.5 percent of us live our lives to take good care of our animals."

In 2012, there were 610,000 dairy cattle in New York state, the same as in 2011. The cows produced 21,633 pounds of milk each on average and the total production of milk in the state in 2012 was 13.2 billion pounds, up from 12.8 billion pounds in 2011. One hundred pounds of milk equals 11.6 gallons of milk.

Happy Dairy Day! Enjoy and be sure to visit the Dairy Products Buildings to have some cheese, ice cream or a cup of that delicious cold white or chocolate milk at the Dairy Bar.

Farmers Can Tell Their Stories at Agriculture Proud Website

Would you like to share with the nation what is great about your farm?

Well, here's your chance. Check out this website and make your own Flat Ryan to share photos, videos and stories from your farm.

What Happens When Goat Poop Spontaneously Ignites?

Oh No!

This story is just too strange for words. Check it out.

Bull Calf Born Sunday Afternoon in the State Fair Dairy Cow Birthing Center

This isn't the greatest photo taken from my computer screen, but it shows a cow licking her newborn bull calf. 

The calf was born in the Dairy Cow Birthing Center at the New York State Fair at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

New York State Fair 'One Thing' Series -- Today's Feature, Poultry

The photos to the left and below show just some of the poultry you will find in the Poultry Building at the New York State Fair. In addition to chickens, there are ducks, Cornish hens, turkeys, baby chicks and also rabbits.
Come to find out, you can even teach an old dog like me a few tricks when it comes to agriculture.

When I popped into the Poultry Building to ask my 'One Thing' question to a poultry owner, I learned a couple of things I never knew.

Here's what Karen Brouillette, of Knoxboro, Oneida County, said when I asked her what 'One Thing' she would tell the public about poultry:

"There are lots of different breeds," she said. "When looking at chickens, if they have a red earlobe, they will lay brown eggs. If they have a white earlobe, they will lay white eggs."

She said the only difference in these eggs is shell color. They taste the same and have the same nutrition.

I also learned that depending on whether the poultry is fed feed or is eats out in the field also will make a difference in the eggs.

Brouillette said free range poultry feeding outside in a field eat grasses along with some occasional bugs. This supplies them with more protein, so their eggs' yolks will be darker yellow, sometimes even an orange color. She said people will notice a difference in taste in these eggs. 

Do Consumers Really Want to See Where Their Food Comes From?

Go to to check out the blog entry.

Dairy Cow Birthing Center a Big Hit!!

I have been thrilled to see how many people are stopping at the Dairy Cow Birthing Center at the New York State Fair.

Honestly, when my friend Jessica Ziehm first told me about this, I thought folks might be a tad too squeamish to watch a live birth. But boy was I wrong.

Stopped in to the center Friday night and there were at least more than 100 people there waiting for a cow to give birth. Hope they got to see it. I had to leave and missed yet another birth. I've been within 15 minutes of two births so far and not sure when the cow last night finally delivered, but I left the center at a little before 8, I think.

Anyway, congrats Jessica and everyone involved in this endeavor. What a great addition to the fair. And happy birthdays to all the little heifers and bulls.

By the way, in the event you missed it in my first post on the center, go to and watch the live cam from the birthing pen.

Morrisville State College Presents High-Tech Farming Exhibit at State Fair

This news comes from Morrisville State College:

An interactive display of high-tech farming that integrates live fish and plants will be among Morrisville State’s attractions at this year’s Great New York State Fair.

Crafted by faculty, staff, and students, the unique display is part of the Onondaga Lake exhibit: “Onondaga Lake: A Fresh Gateway to a New New York,” a 3,000-square-foot marvel in the Center of Progress Building that takes visitors on a journey from the early years of Onondaga Lake to its current cleanup.

Seth Carsten, left, instructional support associate in environmental sciences and renewable energy, and Eric Bremiller, right, CEA greenhouse supervisor, work on Morrisville State's interactive showpiece that is part of the Onondaga Lake Display in the Center of Progress Building at the State fair. Photo by Nicolas Murphy, public relations assistant
Morrisville’s showpiece provides a close-up look at fish and vegetable farming benefiting each other in a controlled environment agriculture (CEA) aquaponics greenhouse, a type of technology that manipulates the growing environment to provide year-round food production.

Fairgoers will get the feel of being in an actual greenhouse where urban rooftop farming is taking place. The grandiose display features a colorful mural of a cityscape, made by Syracuse artist Peter Pullen, along with lettuce and tomatoes growing nearby. A colossal fish tank filled with 300-400 gallons of water and about 50 tilapia, freshwater fish that grow well in greenhouse environments, add to its allure.

The college’s demonstration shows how aquaponics, a combination of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil), makes it possible to produce locally grown vegetables and fish while reducing or eliminating the use of non-renewable inorganic fertilizers that are typically used. 

“Through our exhibit we want to educate people that you can grow food in the city and that CEA is an environmentally and socially sustainable, and potentially economical agricultural option,” said Laurie Trotta, director of the college’s aquaculture center and coordinator of the display. 

“Aquaculture and aquaponics is agriculture and it is suitable for urban to rural environments and can range from a small home garden to a large-scale commercial operation,” she explained. 

The display, which will be staffed by faculty, staff, students, volunteers and alumni with CEA greenhouse experience, will also feature a video describing the components and processes of growing the fish and plants in the Morrisville system. 

Fairgoers will be able to access more information from a brochure or digitally through QR codes and their smartphones or by accessing two computer kiosks in the display.  There will also be graphics about the college’s CEA greenhouse, sustainability, urban renewal, and urban agriculture, including the Helping Hands’ Urban Farming Initiative in Syracuse.

Overall, the Onondaga Lake exhibit shows how coordinated remediation efforts between state and local partners of Onondaga Lake are providing future economic vitality.

“As a leader in agriculture and green initiatives within the SUNY system, we support efforts to stimulate economic growth while maintaining the integrity and sustainability of food sources, water,
and soil,” said Chris Nyberg, Dean of Morrisville’s School of Agriculture, Sustainability, Business and Entrepreneurship.

The environmentally conscious college teamed up with engineering firm O’Brien and Gere in designing its own CEA campus greenhouse where tilapia, a variety of lettuce and herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and strawberries are produced.

The produce is sent to the college’s dining facilities and the
Copper Turret, a college-run restaurant, while the tilapia is sold locally. Morrisville Fresh, a student run business and part of the agricultural business program, also sells the produce grown in the greenhouse at farmers’ markets and on-campus. 

Additional State Fair presence

The college will have additional presence at the State Fair.

Fairgoers can learn more about horses housed in the college’s building located near Gate 4 by the Coca-Cola Coliseum and
the Iroquois Indian Village.

In addition to horses, the college’s automotive department will showcase a drag racing car which was built by automotive technology students, and the college’s renewable energy program will exhibit a portable wood gasification system for producing electricity from wood and agricultural waste.

Participants can also obtain an array of information about the college, athletics, activities, and speak to faculty and staff about the college’s program offerings, including new degrees in culinary arts
management, videojournalism and applied psychology.

Morrisville State alumni are encouraged to stop by and access materials to find fellow classmates, enjoy history about the college and get caught up on its expansion and progress. Alumni Day at the Fair is today, Aug. 24.

The college will also have a presence and provide samples in the Taste New York Marketplace (formerly Pride of New York), managed by the Morrisville State College Auxiliary Corp. through Nelson Farms. Located at the main entrance to the Fair, the building resembles an old-time store stocked with food grown or produced in every corner of New York State.

The School of Agriculture, Sustainability, Business and Entrepreneurship will also have an exhibit in the FFA Building. Additionally, the college will participate in the SUNY Day display Aug. 30 in Center Court.

Equine faculty and students will be honing their prowess, competing with the Morrisville College Foundation’s six-horse Belgian hitch in the coliseum near the dairy barn. Admission to the horse show is free. Morrisville is the only college in North America to compete with a six-horse hitch.

Morrisville State students also will volunteer at the Dairy Birthing Center, which is making its debut at the fair. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Got a Question? Ask a Farmer

This sign and shirts bearing the same slogan are everywhere in the Dairy Birthing Center at the New York State Fair.

Please remember, if there is anything you want to know, ask the farmers, whether in the birthing center or in any of the animal barns. They love to talk about their animals and answer questions.

New York State Fair 'One Thing' Series -- Today's Feature, Llamas

Llamas Shady, 6, left and Jacoba, 4, pose for a shot at the NY State Fair
If you want to see llamas and alpacas at the New York State Fair, be sure to head out in the next few days.

These animals are in the swine barn through early next week and then many of them move out to make way for the pigs.

I asked llama owner Barb Kurzowski, of Holley in Orleans County, what 'one thing' she would say about her animals.

"They don't all spit," she said. "That's the first thing the public assume is that they all spit."

Kurzowski said the only time the animals spit is if they are annoyed or being pestered by people. I guess that makes complete sense.

According to various websites, llamas are bred throughout the world for their fiber. They have some of the best fiber of any animal and it makes very warm items. In fact, states "The Incan civilization (in South America) could likely not have thrived at its high, harsh altitude without the warm fleece of these native animals."

In other places, including South America, llamas are used as pack animals carrying heavy loads through the mountains passes. 


Top Performers Pay for Themselves

Go to to check out this blog entry on Farm Futures.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

New York State Fair 'One Thing' Series -- Today's Feature, Maple

Maple syrup for sale at the 2013 State Fair
Maple syrup is that wonderfully, sweet delight that comes each spring as the temperatures begin to warm and the sap begins to flow.

But Dave Schiek, of Schiek Maple Farm in Penn Yan, Yates County, said there is one thing he wants everyone to know about maple.

"It is a healthier sugar than most sugars and you can use it for much more than just pancakes," he said from the maple booth in the Horticulture Building at the New York State Fair.

Maple is great for use in many recipes as a substitute for other sugars. And it is used to make many other items other than syrup, such as maple sugar, maple cream and maple butter. It also is used to make candy, ice cream, cotton candy, maple-covered nuts and other products that are all on sale at the maple booth at the fair.

This year was a great maple season in New York. According to figures from the National Agricultural Statistics Services, maple producers in the state made 574,000 gallons of syrup in 2013, up from the dismal 360,000 in 2012. Production in 2011 was 564,000 gallons and that was considered a phenomenal year.

Like many other crops, maple is heavily dependent on the weather. In 2012, temperatures warmed too soon, shutting off the sap run and ending the season only a couple of weeks after it had begun. 

The average length of season in 2012 was only 24 days, from Feb. 21 to March 16, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. In 2013, the average length of season was 42 days, from Feb. 27 to April 9. 

Healthier Snacks Coming to Elementary, High Schools

Hey kiddos! Get ready for healthier snacks in school.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lots of New York State Food To Taste at NYS Fair

Do you wanna taste some good old New York state produced foods at the New York State Fair?

Well, there are a lot of them out there. Check out this story to find where they are.

New York State Fair 'One Thing" Series Begins on Empire State Farming -- Today's Feature, Dairy Goats

A dairy goat at the New York State Fair checks out the photographer
This year's New York State Fair series for the Empire State Farming blog is called "One Thing."

What I have done is visited folks involved with various agricultural endeavors and asked them the one thing they would like the public to know about their animal or agricultural product.

The first one up: Dairy Goats.

"They are like productive dogs," said Holly Phillips, of Pultney in Steuben County. "And I want people to know goats are friendly, outgoing and trainable."

Added Trudy Lombard, of Skaneateles, superintendent of the goat barn at the fair: "They also produce milk and a lot of people make cheese and other things out of the milk."

There were about 30,000 goats in New York state in 2010. About 13,000 were milk (dairy) goats and the rest were meat goats. The goat industry is growing in the state because more and more consumers are interested in goat cheese and goat milk.

USDA Provides Money for Rural Job Creation

News from the USDA:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced it is seeking applications for grants that will be awarded to organizations to help rural businesses create jobs and spur economic development.

USDA is making $5.6 million available through the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI), a program that generates economic activity in rural areas. 

Qualified intermediary organizations receiving the grants will provide financial and technical assistance to recipients to develop their capacity to undertake housing, community facilities, or community and economic development projects. Recipients will be non-profit organizations, low income rural communities, or federally recognized tribes. Intermediary organizations must provide matching funds at least equal to the RCDI grant. 

Funds are not directly provided to business recipients by USDA under the program.
The deadline for submitting RCDI applications is Nov. 12. Applications must be submitted to the USDA Rural Development state office where the applicant's headquarters are located.

A list of these offices is available on the USDA Rural Development website. For more information, see the Aug. 14 Federal Register at

New York State Fair Dairy Birthing Center Has First Calf!!

Photo from State Fair Facebook page
First calf has already made its appearance at the Dairy Birthing Center at the New York State Fair. The little guy (a bull calf) couldn't wait for the fair to open on Thursday. He made his appearance at the very end of the press conference about the birthing center at about 1:30 p.m.

Be sure to check out the birthing center to see calves being born. The center is at the back of the fairgrounds near the FFA and 4-H buildings.

See a Live Calf Birth at the New Dairy Birthing Center at the New York State Fair

Cow awaits giving birth in the birthing center birth pen.
The miracle of birth is there for all to see in the new Dairy Birthing Center at the New York State Fair.

The fair opens its 12-day run Thursday Aug. 22. The Dairy Birthing Center is located at the back of the fairgrounds behind the Talent Showcase and in between the 4-H and FFA buildings.

The birthing center has been a longtime dream of Jessica Ziehm, executive director of the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition. The coalition is a farmer founded and funded organization that strives to enhance the public’s understanding of and appreciation for animal agriculture and modern farm practices, according to its website.

Ziehm said other state fairs, such as Minnesota, Virginia and Iowa, have run birthing centers in the past and she thought it would be a great idea for the New York fair.

"This is one of the amazing miracles we see on the farm every day," said Ziehm, who was raised on a dairy farm and now lives with her husband Stuart on the family dairy farm in Washington County north of Albany.

Hoard is a famous dairyman born in Madison County, NY
There will be six cows at the birthing center at one time and they will stay for two-day stints. Ziehm said if all goes as planned, three will give birth each day of the fair.

The cows have been induced, which Ziehm said is safe and common in the dairy industry. "It works very effectively in cattle because we know exactly when the cows are due," she said. This is because the cows are artificially inseminated, so exactly nine months after the insemination, the cows are ready to calve.

Ziehm said all the cows being brought in for the birthing center exhibit have given birth before and all are having only one calf. Veterinarians in private practice and those from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine will be on hand for all the births.

There are bleachers set up on both sides of the birthing pen for the public to use while watching. 

Dale Mattoon, a Cayuga County dairy farmer and chairman of the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition, brought the first batch of cows in for the birthing center. 

"If you plan to be in the dairy business for the long haul, you need the public to understand why we do what we do," he said. "This is a great way to talk to the public about that."

The public is encouraged to ask questions of either the farmers or the vets while they are in the birthing center.

For youngsters, in the corner of the birthing center is a storytime site called "From Moo to You," which tells the story of today's dairy farmers.

Ziehm said the birthing center took six months to plan and "we're really excited to add it to the great New York State Fair."

"It all starts here folks," she said. "The production of milk wouldn't take place without the birth of baby calves."

Other farms donating cows for the birthing center are from Aurelius and Scipio Springs in Cayuga County, Odessa in Schuyler County, Lansing in Tompkins County and Skaneateles in Onondaga County. 

To watch cameras in the birthing center while you're not at the fair or at the birthing center, go to

State Fair Butter Sculpture Celebrates Yearround Production of Milk

Milk is one of the only farm products produced yearround in New York state and this year's New York State Fair butter sculpture pays homage to that fact.

The sculpture was unveiled Wednesday morning in the Dairy Products Building at the New York State Fairgrounds in Geddes. 

The fair opens its 12-day run Thursday, Aug. 22.

Made of 800 pounds of unsalted butter from O-At-Ka Milk in Batavia, the sculpture shows children in the four seasons of New York, eating and drinking dairy products while a cow Statue of Liberty holding an ice cream torch and wheel of cheese looks down on them all.

Also shown is Niagara Falls, city skyscrapers and majestic mountains such as the Adirondacks and Catskills. The four children are an ice skater drinking hot chocolate, a boy going to school eating some cheese, a girl in a bathing suit eating yogurt and a boy with flowers drinking a smoothie.

"It was a lot of work," said artist Jim Victor, of Conshohocken, Pa. "I don't know if it was the hardest I've ever done, but it was one of the most difficult."

Victor and Marie Pelton, also of Conshohocken, have created the State Fair's sculpture since 2003. This year's creation is the 45th annual butter sculpture at the state fair.