ALBANY, N.Y., Feb. 21 -- The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets issued the following news release:
Acting State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today 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," said Acting Commissioner Ball. "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.
"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 Acting Commissioner 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!!!"
Shortly after the conclusion of the 2013 Fair, Department of Agriculture and Markets leadership assembled a group of agricultural stakeholders and asked them how the Fair could better represent their interests. While much of this feedback is still being evaluated, the Fair is already taking steps to address some of the needs identified by industry.
New York Wine Village Returns to the Colonnade:
A few years ago, the New York Wine Village moved from the heavily-trafficked Colonnade area overlooking Chevy Court to a location near the Horticulture Building. This issue was raised as a concern by industry at the stakeholders' meeting and also during Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's initial Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit. Industry stakeholders noted that the change in location negatively impacted sales and exposed less people to the tastes of high-quality New York State wines.
Today, Acting Commissioner Ball is pleased to announce that the Wine Village, featuring all New York wines, will be moving back to the Colonnade. There, fairgoers will have an opportunity to relax, drink New York wine and listen to world class entertainers at Chevy Court. Also, with its close proximity to the Dairy Products Building, fairgoers will have an opportunity to go next door to buy a variety of cheeses and pair them with some of the best wines in the world.
Jim Trezise, President of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, said, "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. 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.
Dairy Cow Birthing Center Expands:
Also at the stakeholders' meeting, restaurants from the west end of the fairgrounds touted the Dairy Cow Birthing Center as a catalyst to help them increase business during the 12-day extravaganza. Last year, the Dairy Cow Birthing Center, hosted by the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition (NYAAC), 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. NYAAC, 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.
Jessica Ziehm, Executive Director for the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition, said, "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. 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."
Stakeholders also expressed an interest in expanding the Fair's already huge lineup of competitions. While a number of ideas are currently being developed, one is ready to be announced immediately.
The first-ever watermelon carving competition will take place this August at the Fair. Fairgoers will have the opportunity to bring in their own watermelons and carve them right at the Fair near the Horticulture Building. This competition will take place the first two days of the Fair, with carvings taking place the first day and finished products on display on the second. Fairgoers must pre-register for this competition, which they will soon be able to do by going to the Fair's website or calling (315) 487-7711 for an entry form.
Video Screens around the Fairgrounds:
Video and digital screens, which have been appearing more and more in recent years on the Fairgrounds, will be updated daily to let fairgoers know where the action will be on a particular day as it relates to agriculture.
"There is just so much going on at the Fair at one time that sometimes it's tough for fairgoers to keep track of it all," said Acting Commissioner Ball. "We want to strategically place these screens throughout the Fair so people know what's going on at all times."
Another concern raised by stakeholders was the condition of some of the barns where animals are kept not only during the Fair, but during some of the agricultural events that take place throughout the year.
A number of improvements are currently underway to build brand new permanent horse stalls at the DVM Horse Barn, improve the pens in the sheep barns, reroof the Toyota Coliseum's warm up ring and addressing drainage issues there, expand the showroom area in the FFA building and enhance the fairgoers' experience in the Wittier Museum.
About the Great New York State Fair:
The Great New York State Fair, operated by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, runs from August 21 - September 1, 2014. The Fair's mission is to showcase the best of New York agriculture while providing top-quality entertainment.
In addition to the annual New York State Fair, the Fairgrounds host dozens of agricultural events throughout the year, including some of the Northeast's most prestigious horse and livestock shows.
The home of the Great New York State Fair is a 375-acre exhibit and entertainment complex that operates all year. A year-round schedule of events is available on the Fair's website, http://www.nysfair.org. Find The Great New York State Fair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nysfair, follow @NYSFair on Twitter, and enjoy photos from the Fair at http://flickr.com/photos/nysfair.
New Yorkers are invited to send their ideas for the Great New York State Fair at email@example.com.
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