Acting State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today (Friday) announced a number of initiatives underway at the Great New York State Fair which will bring even more of a focus on New York agriculture in 2014 and increase the Fair's profile as a premier destination for agritourism in the Northeast.
"Last year, the Fair did a great job refocusing on its core mission to promote New York agriculture," Ball said. "This year we're going to do it all over again, except bigger and better. With these initiatives already locked in and much more on the horizon, the 2014 Great New York State Fair is well on its way to being a memorable one."
The theme of the 2014 Great New York State Fair is "Summer's Best in Show," which brings the Fair straight back to its agricultural roots. The Fair runs Aug. 21 to Sept. 1.
One of the changes coming to the 2014 fair is an expansion of the Dairy Cow Birthing Center.
In 2013, the Dairy Cow Birthing Center, hosted by the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition, debuted on the west end of the Fairgrounds and showcased the live birth of 30 baby calves over the course of the Fair. The exhibit was one of the most popular new exhibits on the Fairgrounds, and will be returning this year in its same location - only bigger.
The Birthing Center will be held in a larger tent, and will offer twice the seating, as well as large screen TVs for improved visibility. Farmers and veterinarians will once again be on hand to discuss the birthing process and New York's modern dairy farms. Two calves born at the State Fair in 2013 will also return for petting.
The New York Animal Agriculture Coalition, in conjunction with the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, will again offer a live web feed of the exhibit for those unable to attend the Fair.
"We were blown away with the level of interest in the Dairy Cow Birthing Center last year, and are pleased to offer this exhibit once again at the Great New York State Fair," said Jessica Ziehm, coalition executive director. "We are in the process of making several improvements to the exhibit to ensure everyone has the opportunity to witness a calf be born and learn about New York's dairy industry."
Other changes coming to the fair is the return of the Wine Village to the Colonnade, more competitions and building renovations.
Concerning competitions, the first-ever watermelon carving competition will take place on the first two days of the Fair. Fairgoers will have the opportunity to bring in their own watermelons and carve them right at the Fair near the Horticulture Building. Fairgoers must pre-register for this competition, which they will soon be able to do by going to the Fair's website or calling 487-7711 for an entry form.
Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, said visitors will welcome the wine industry's move back to the Colonnade.
"The decision to move the New York wine industry back to the Colonnade is great news for the New York State Fair, our industry, and consumers" Trezise said. "The wine industry occupied this location for many years before it was moved to a more remote area which was hard for consumers to find, while the Colonnade is center stage. This is another example of State officials listening to industry and then acting, which is very refreshing and encouraging."
In addition, the "Taste NY" Wine and Cheese competition will return in 2014. Last year,camembert cheese from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, paired with strawberry wine from Baldwin Vineyards took home the blue ribbon.
This competition will return in 2014, as will the entire "Taste NY" experience, including the "Taste NY" trail, tasting tent and at least two wine and cheese seminars daily in the Horticulture Building.
"People look forward to the Fair all year long, and this new theme describes the Fair as both the true peak of summer and the absolute best of what New York State agriculture has to offer," said Ball. "Every summer, a variety of blue ribbons are awarded during the Fair's annual competitions, highlighting the 'best in show' among all New York agriculture. But the Fair itself is a cut above the rest and it truly will be this summer's best in show. What a fitting theme for 2014!!!"