Today is the opening day of the New York State Fair which always has a great impact on central New York at this time of the year.
People from New York City, Toronto and Buffalo can take an Amtrak train directly to the fair. There is a special stop at the fairgrounds during the 12-day run. Amtrak has a new exhibit for the first four days, which lets you experience what it is like on the train according to Jerome Trahan, the principal marketing specialist at Amtrak.
"We start out in the first room and you can hear the environmental sounds of trains, bells, the clickety-clack of the rails," Trahan said.
Going from rail to sea, inside the Grange building people can watch artist Don Gillespie recreate a marine painting of a ship in stormy waters that was displayed at the fair in 1897. He's about halfway done. The original painting was done by Charles Henry Grant and survived a fire at Gillespie’s great grandfather’s art gallery in Oswego before being lost.
"I felt a little bit responsible that I should be repainting it too," Gillespie said.
Normally, in order to see a horse at the state fair, you have to sit in the stands of the coliseum and watch the competition. But six stalls will now be showcasing six different horses at any given time at the new Equine Avenue exhibit -- which is meant to get fairgoers up close and personal with the animals.
The popular dairy cow birthing center is back with minor improvements being made this year. Jessica Ziehm is the executive director of the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition and said they have gone from three pens down to two to give the birthing cow more room with her calf and to be surrounded by her cow girlfriends to make her more comfortable.
"Last year we actually did a C-section in front of about 900 people here and it really went very well," Ziehm said. "Was it ideal? No, but it was real life. We would have had to do the C-section at home on the farm or whether we're here at the fair. It's what we do."
Poultry will not be at the fair this year to avoid spreading the avian flu, but piglets and sows are back after being banned last year. Looking toward the future, $50 million was included in this year’s state budget for renovating the fairgrounds. Acting Director Troy Waffner said consultants will be attending the fair this year to help determine some ideas of how to spend the money.