By DEBRA J. GROOM
While the New York State Fair is jam-packed with fun and food, its primary emphasis always has been on agriculture, the biggest industry in New York state.
In fact, the New York State Fair is run by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.
So, while running around the fairgrounds this summer checking out musical acts and the sand sculpture, exploring the midway, and scarfing down fried dough and sausage sandwiches, remember to check out the agricultural exhibits.
|Vegetables that competed at last year's State Fair|
And, as always, see how the entire dairy industry begins in the Dairy Cow Birthing Center.
Here are some new ag exhibits to check out at the 2017 New York State Fair:
** STEAM Exhibit. This is one of the most anticipated new items at this year’s fair and is located in the Science and Engineering Building.
The exhibit will highlight a number of technical careers and trades that are extremely popular today. Many qualified workers are going to be needed to fill these STEAM jobs in the future. Federal government statistics indicate employment in the science, technology, engineering and math fields will grow by 9 million by 2022.
|Butter sculpture from a previous State Fair|
“The technical fields and the arts provide wonderful opportunities for our young people and for our economy while encouraging innovation and creativity,” said Troy Waffner, acting director of the New York State Fair.
“This is an exciting new exhibit and I encourage everyone to stop by and see the amazing work being done in these industries now and the opportunities for the future.”
Examples of projects and fields to be displayed include drones, medical projects, advanced manufacturing, virtual reality, robotics, citizen science, wearable technology, soldering, 3D-printed prosthetics, architecture, stop-motion animation and more.
There also will be a special Ag Career Day on Students Day Sept. 1.
The exhibit will feature an area in which people with enthusiasm for particular topics will create projects as fairgoers watch.
** A number of the animal barns will have special signs this year providing a phone number. Fairgoers will be able to send a text to that number from their cell phones asking questions about anything they are curious about in the animal barns.
They will immediately get a text back from the barn superintendent or perhaps even the state Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets with an answer to their questions.
“We want the fairgoer to have the right information,” said Mary Ellen Chesbro, New York State Fair coordinator and agricultural manager. “Sometimes they will ask a question out loud and someone standing near them will answer. But that might not always be the right information. With this, they won’t have to hunt down someone to ask — they will be able to get an answer and get it fast.”
So far, the text questions project will be up and running in the goats, sheep, swine and beef barns. Chesbro said she also is trying to get it set up in the dairy barn.
** If you want to know what’s going on during the horse shows in the Coliseum, check out the free headphones. Chesbro said there are 75 headsets available (simply look for the signs inside the Coliseum entrances). There will be an explanation of what is going on during the particular show going on at that time and fairgoers can text questions to the narrator of the horse show.
“We want them to leave not only wondering why, but knowing why,” Chesbro said.
|A Holstein at a previous State Fair.|
Usually the first Monday of the fair, the annual salute to everything dairy this year will be Thursday, Aug. 31.
Chesbro said Dairy Day had to be mooooved because of the extra day at the beginning of the fair (the fair opens Wednesday, Aug. 23, not on a Thursday). This extra day means the dairy cattle would be changing places beginning Monday, Aug. 28, with some moving out and others moving in. This means there would be no dairy cattle in the barn on Aug. 28.
“You can’t have Dairy Day without dairy cattle,” Chesbro said.
All of the popular Dairy Day events will take place, including the parade, celebrity milkshake-making contest, cheese auction and visits throughout the fairgrounds by county dairy princesses and the New York State Dairy Princess.
One new feature on Dairy Day is guests can enter a drawing to win Taste NY dairy gift baskets by answering trivia questions when they visit three popular dairy attractions on Dairy Day.
To participate, guests can pick up a copy of the questions at any of the fair’s six Guest Relations locations.
|A treat at the Yo2GO Yogurt Bar|
** There will be a Hot Beef Sundae competition on the dairy building stage at noon Aug. 24. Contestants are being lined up via social media.
** On Beef Day, Tuesday, Aug. 29, people will be able to participate in the Pound Out Hunger event. By paying $2, they will be given three strikes at an old car with a sledgehammer. The money raised through this event goes to a food pantry to buy hamburger for the needy.
** There are some new additions at the Witter Agricultural Museum. There is a beautiful back porch and handicapped ramp for visitors. There also are arbors complete with displays of growing hops and grapes.