The 2013 edition of the New York State Fair opens on Thursday, drawing hundreds of thousands of fairgoers to the Geddes fairgrounds during the 12-day exposition.
In recent years, there has been more of a focus on agriculture at the State Fair, and State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine says there's more evidence of that at this year's event.
"I think for far too long, agriculture has not been the focus of the fair," Aubertine said. "If you think about it, agriculture is what started the fair. Back over 100 years ago, the fair was an agricultural event, and we're trying to bring more of that back."
One of the big things fairgoers will notice this year is a huge white tent just outside the Taste New York Marketplace at the main entrance of the fairgrounds. It'll be filled with food vendors from across the state offering a taste of what food and beverage companies throughout New York have to offer. A map will take fairgoers on a New York Taste trail that'll wind through the fairground offering other items ranging from cheese to wine.
Aubertine says you'll see more evidence of the state's growing agricultural economy with tastings, trails, and contests throughout the fairgrounds.
"There's probably a real awareness to be had, when people realize where their food comes from and how much of it is produced right here in New York," Aubertine said.
He also noted that the time is right to emphasize food and the state's agriculture industry.
"The local food movement is not a fad," Aubertine explained. "People read labels today, unlike in the past. So people are more aware and the fact that New York is such a large agricultural state bodes well for agriculture and, ultimately, the economy of the state."
The New York State Fair draws nearly a million people each year, although last year's attendance was the worst in 20 years.