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New York State Fair goes virtual, including creation of famous butter sculputre

Fair fans can still enjoy online contests and activities from the nation's third largest state fair.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — You may not be able to check it out in person, but there's still a way to enjoy this year's New York's State Fair

The annual event in Syracuse was cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak. But there is still a full slate of events to help you get your fair fix.

"The Great New York State Fair is a cherished tradition for which many New Yorkers build their summer vacations and travel plans around," Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "Though COVID-19 has postponed our great Fair, New Yorkers have found a way to put a new spin on this 178-year long tradition to continue to virtually enjoy the Fair during these challenging times."

One of the most popular attractions, the annual butter sculpture, was unveiled Monday, September 1 at the New York State Fairgrounds. 

"Nourishing Our Future," was the theme of this year's sculpture and the American Dairy Association North East says it "pays tribute to those who ensure our children are nourished and learning - whether in school or at home - including dairy farmers, school nutrition staff, teachers and parents."

The butter masterpiece depicts two different sides, the first showing a dairy farmer providing milk to a child who is learning from home with his mother. The other side shows a child learning in school while a school nutrition worker delivers a meal tray to the classroom.

“Despite uncertain times, you can rest assured that dairy farmers will continue to do what we have always done, 365 days a year – care for our cows and produce milk and dairy products to feed our communities,” said Lisa Porter of Porterdale Farms in Adams Center, N.Y. “Children need nourishment to thrive in the classroom and beyond, and dairy farmers have long been advocates for school meal programs that increase student access to nutritious foods.”

The sculpture was created by Jim Victor and Marie Pelton over a 10 day period. The pair used over 800 pounds of "scrap butter" from O-AT-KA Milk Products in Western New York.

This marks the 18th consecutive year Victor and Pelton have created the state fair butter sculpture. The American Dairy Association North East says it will post a time-lapse video of the process from beginning to end.

You can also join in the butter-sculpting fun by participating in the fair's "sculpture at home contest." All you have to do is make a sculpture using up to five pounds of butter and submit a photo of your creation at the contest site here. The grand prize winner will receive a lifetime admission medal to the fair.

New York State Fair Director Troy Waffner said, "We know that people are going to miss the Fair this year. We've received so many phone calls, emails and text messages from people for whom the Fair is a tradition. We know these activities won't replace the Fair but will remind us all of why we love the Fair and keep us going until we can meet again. And rest assured, we are using this time to plan the greatest Fair in our long history."

The New York Animal Agriculture Coalition will post live dairy cow births via its Facebook page.

If that's not enough, and you still want to make the three hour trip down the Thruway, several fair vendors will offer drive-thru fair food on weekend's in the Fair's Orange Lot through Labor Day, and in the evening, socially-distanced drive-in movies. 

The New York State Fair is hoping to return bigger and better than ever from August 20-September 6, 2021.