State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today celebrated the first of several county fair improvement projects underway across the State. Commissioner Ball joined representatives from the Saratoga County Fair and state and local elected officials to cut the ribbon on the fair’s new 7,200 square foot dairy and beef barn, which was made possible by a $96,000 grant awarded as part of the $5 million New York State Agricultural Fairgrounds Infrastructure Improvement Program. Governor Cuomo first announced the program in 2016 to help local fairs offset the cost of agricultural improvement and renovation projects, including new construction. The 2017-18 NYS Budget provides an additional $5 million for the program.
Commissioner Ball said, “Our county fairs are a part of New York's rich tradition and help showcase our communities in every corner of the state. We have a great story to tell about our farmers and the hard work that they do, and the county fairs provide New Yorkers a first-hand opportunity to learn about our vital agriculture industry. I’m excited to celebrate the completion of these investment projects that will help these fairs attract more visitors, raise the profile of local vendors and businesses, and help spur economic growth across New York."
Jeff Townsend, Executive Director of the Saratoga County Fair, said, “For more than 30 years the Cattle Show was held under a tent that had to be rented each year, at a cost of over $1,000. This new building not only properly showcases the top Cattle breeders in Saratoga County, but also reduces the costs to put on the annual Fair.”
The 176th Saratoga County Fair kicked off today and will run through July 23, 2017. Its new barn will feature a new permanent show ring area, along with 50 new cattle stalls. The additional space is already in use with the Saratoga County Fair setting a record of 239 entries to show cattle. More than a dozen additional agricultural improvement projects are in various phases of approval or are underway across the State, including the Niagara, Orleans, Herkimer, Erie, Yates, Franklin, Cattaraugus, Washington, Essex, Chenango, Columbia, Steuben, and Broome County Fairs, as well as the Schaghticoke and Fonda Fairs.
This is the first time in nearly a decade that the State’s more than four dozen local fairs are receiving critical infrastructure improvement funds. The $5 million has been divided equally among the fairs and funding is being used to build, repair, replace, acquire, or install fairground buildings, facilities or equipment that are used to house or promote agriculture.
President of the New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs Gary Newkirk said, “As President of the Fair Association, I have been visiting all of the Fairs so far. I am so impressed by all of the work being done to showcase New York State Agriculture. The amazing part is that most of the fairs are being run with a very small staff or all volunteers and running on a shoe string budget. This money will go a long way to keep the fairs going, improve their facilities to even better showcase New York State Agriculture and provide the sorely needed education for our ever growing non-farm based population.”
More than 50 county and youth fairs operate from July through early October, with the Long Island Fair closing out the season. Local fairs provide visitors with family- friendly fun, great music and delicious food. They also offer a unique opportunity to learn about local agriculture, including where our food comes from, how it is grown, harvested and marketed to the public.
A list of local fairs awarded across New York State can be found here.
In addition, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets operates the oldest and one of the largest state fairs in the country, The Great New York State Fair in Syracuse. The Fair takes place from August 23 through September 4, 2017.
About the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
The Department, through its various divisions and programs, promotes New York agriculture and its high-quality and diverse products, fosters agricultural environmental stewardship, and safeguards the State’s food supply, land and livestock to ensure the viability and growth of New York’s agriculture industries.
The Department operates the Great New York State Fair, and administers the Taste NY initiative, the FreshConnect and new New York State Grown and Certified programs. Follow the Department on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.