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State Ag and Markets initiative seeks to strengthen county fairs

​​​​​​​The (Auburn) Citizen
Posted 12/5/22

State officials are planning to meet with local representatives to promote and strengthen county fairs across New York.

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State Ag and Markets initiative seeks to strengthen county fairs

Posted

ALBANY — State officials are planning to meet with local representatives to promote and strengthen county fairs across New York.

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets on Thursday announced that stakeholders will meet twice annually, in the spring and fall, with the initial dates to be chosen at the annual meeting of the state Association of Agricultural Fairs in January 2023.

Representatives from NYSAAF and additional stakeholders will be invited to participate in the discussions, which will generate ideas to further the growth of fairs as part of an initiative to evaluate ways to increase the marketing and promotion of county fairs, as well as opportunities to improve youth and agricultural programming initiatives at all fairs statewide.

According to a news release, participants will be the NYSAAF’s board of directors, which includes managers from county fairs across New York State of all sizes, as well as vendor representatives and members of agricultural groups that have experience and insight into the operation of exhibits at fairs.

Topics for the first discussion will include:

  • How to enhance fair marketing and promotion through existing programs such as Taste NY and I Love NY, as well as the creation of new programs to increase awareness of fairs statewide;
  • Plans for enhancing agricultural competitions at fairs, including ways to encourage county fair winners to participate at the Great New York State Fair; and
  • Other initiatives, including capital planning, emergency management, and commissioning an updated economic impact study.

“The NYSAAF Board looks forward to participating in a series of round table discussions,” NYSAAF President Ed Rossley said in a statement. “We will continue to promote agriculture at the county and state levels. Open communication is necessary to expand the county fair’s promotion, infrastructure, and financial stability. All these areas are necessary to provide a venue for youth and agricultural programming initiatives in New York State.”

In 2021, Gov. Kathy Hochul directed a review to assess support, growth, and revitalization opportunities for all fairs in New York. As part of this initiative, the state created a new position, Agricultural Fair Development Director, which was a significant step forward in streamlining the state’s work with county fairs and facilitating increased opportunities for funding and growth.

Agriculture and Markets said that in addition to the state fair, New York is home to more than 50 county and youth fairs that operate from July through the middle of September, with the Long Island Fair closing out the season. According to a 2013 economic impact study, the state’s fairs generate $6 million in economic activity and over 4,000 jobs in New York each year.

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