At the NYS Fair on Sunday*, I stood outside the Youth Arena in the blistering heat. I squinted to peek inside the dark barn. Cages of rabbits were plopped in the middle, and nervous teens in white coats stood at tables. These kids had brought their rabbits in for judging, according to a man who could clearly tell that I didn't know what was going on inside. "It's all about knowledge," he said.
I rode the ferris wheel, I ate fried dough, I wandered past roosters, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, and cows. The Fair offers a great opportunity for city folks like me (even from small cities like Ithaca) to see a bit of NYS agricultural pride up close. Families sat in barns next to their livestock, in stalls adorned with ribbons and medals from all kinds of competitions, kids rode horses in the arena, and poultry with dyed feathers pecked at their cages (yes, I saw fluorescent feathers). I saw the butter sculpture (kids checking out at a grocery store) and ate NYS-made ice cream. I would have liked to spend more time learning about agriculture, but the pull of the kiddie rides was too much for my preschooler.
"It's all about knowledge," said the man outside the youth arena. And I stood outside, looking in, trying to figure out what's going on. The same could be said of me trying to figure out farming and food here in the microcosm of Ithaca and Tompkins County. I drive past farms, I eat food, and I try to connect the two. It's an ongoing process.
*Thanks to the generous promotions people at the NYS Fair, I enjoyed free entrance tickets to the Fair, which were offered to bloggers in exchange for posting about the event.