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State Fair to keep 25 cent cup of milk

Ellen Abbott
The Dairy Bar at the New York State Fair

The iconic 25-cent cup of milk at the New York State Fair is at the root of a shake up in the operation of one of the Syracuse fairgrounds anchor buildings.

The nonprofit group New York State Dairy Exhibits has run the Dairy Building during the fair since 1952. That includes operation of the Dairy Bar, which sells chocolate and white milk for a quarter. But the group has been losing money on the milk bar for years. When it planned on raising the price to 50 cents last year, the state stepped in to help keep prices down. But according to the dairy group, the state only came up with half of a $90,000 subsidy, so it's pulled out of the operation entirely, according to acting Fair Director Troy Waffner.

"Now what that means, they will no longer operate it, it will become a function of the state fair to operate it What it also means is the 25 cent glass of milk, which is an icon on the fairgrounds, will continue.”

Waffner says the cost for the fair to operate the dairy bar is nominal. And it allows the fair to consider modernizing the building, and adding attractions.

“Eventually, maybe putting in a sort of processing and pasteurization plant so people can see, how does milk get to the store? And maybe that will allow us to add flavors back. So we have a real rainbow bar. We can have strawberry flavor and mint flavor, and bacon flavor, and whatever else we can make.”

Waffner says the Dairy Building could also be used when the state fair is not going on.

“This is actually a building we could clear out in the early summer and use it for the Syracuse Nationals, open up these stands, and sell 25 cent glasses of milk for that. Or if we get another RV rally or music festival eventually, or any of these big shows that we do, and really open it up and highlight it more than the 12 or 13 days of the fair,” Waffner said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.