Spotlight: County Fairs
County fairs offer many resources and experiences to community members,
Learning where food comes from is one of the highlights of the county fairs held throughout New York State- from milk to apples, and so much more.
“The main purpose of county fairs is to educate,” said Gerry Elthorp, treasurer and manager of the Herkimer County Fair.
Last year over four million people visited the county and state fairs in New York, and there were over 1,500 exhibitors throughout those fairs. For many residents, the county fair is one way to learn about programs and services throughout the county while having fun.
“It's a great opportunity to have a family experience together that is educational and affordable,” said Russ Marquart, executive secretary of the New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs.
Concerts, amusement rides, and unique shows are all large draws to the county fair, but they all fall short of the top reason why people visit county fairs.
“The number one reason people go to fairs is to eat,” said Marquart. “It's usually unique food.”
The second reason people stop by the county fair are to see animals according to Marquart.
“Young children get to pet and see animals,” said Marquart. “That's not something you can usually do unless you get a chance to take a tour of a farm.”
At the same time that families and children are learning and having fun, farmers and exhibitors from throughout the county get to show off their prize products and invaluable services.
“I think county fairs offer a rare glimpse into production agriculture,” said Marquart
Every building at the Herkimer County Fair houses information about agriculture and food production, including the County Dairy Promotion which has an interactive milking exhibit with Milky Way the cow.
Starting as a 4H volunteer when she was a child, Elthorp has been working with organizing the Herkimer County fair for the past 45 years. It's this kind of spirit and drive that is supported by an announced increase in funding to the Agricultural Fairgrounds Infrastructure Improvement Program.
“The fair gives an opportunity to learn about the value of food in the state and throughout the county,” said Elthorp
Click here for a list of all the county fairs throughout New York State!