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State Fair to increase focus on local foods


Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - The focus on agriculture will be seen more than ever at this year's New York State Fair.

There are new exhibits, new restaurants and even New York beer and wine for sale at the Grandstand.

You may think fair food and rides when you think State Fair, but with nearly a million visitors passing through the turnstiles there's the chance to make a real impact on the state's economy.

“Our job is to highlight different components of agriculture here at the fair and promote New York products,” says State Fair Director Dan O’Hara.

The marketplace is a common sight just inside the gate, but now there's the New York grill in the infield and a New York cafe inside the Horticulture Building. Both serve up food grown in the state.

New York doesn't just boast one product; there is a diverse range from chicken to potatoes and onions from a farm in Baldwinsville.

“We're top 10 in almost everything -- fruits and veggies, poultry, dairy -- it's not hard” to promote the state’s agricultural strengths, says State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker.

You'll notice menu changes at the grandstands, too. American Food and Vending took over the concessions, and service will be faster.

“To be able to get them through in a timely manner for a product is very important,” says American Food and Vending’s John Sidorakis.

And you can buy New York food, such as roast beef from Rochester, wine and beer.

“For Utica Club and Genny, we're selling for a dollar less than other beers, says Sidorakis.

The goal is to get the farmers and consumers talking, and increase awareness of what New York has to offer.

“What'll be interesting is how demand goes and what distribution challenges we have, but that's a good problem to have,” Hooker says.

Some other new things coming to this year's Fair: More street entertainment, twice as many free concerts at Chevy Court, new kiddie attractions, a farmer's market, a wildlife show and a duck race.

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