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The 800 pound butter sculpture of a scene off the farm (seen here on the World Dairy Business Blog) is usually the headliner at the Dairy Building of the New York State Fair.But people wait in a long line for another hot item being used to promote New York’s dairy industry: a cup of milk that costs a quarter at the dairy bar.That includes a young James Moore, who says "It’s the best chocolate milk and white milk I’ve ever tasted in my life." "The Chocolate is more chocolaty and it’s nice and cold."The milk is all whole milk, which probably helps. Chocolate milk rules overall. The milk bar serves five cups of chocolate for every cup of plain milk.Mary Ellen Chesbro, agricultural manager for the fair says the total cups served goes up every year. This year, she's hoping the milk bar will top 400,000 cups of milk out this year.The whole operation is run by a task force of volunteers from the dairy industry, from farmers to distributors. The goal is to promote New York dairy – the state’s biggest agricultural product.Seventeen-year old Dale Durant, who serves milk to fairgoers says it can get pretty busy at the counter."Really nice days there’s a lot of people here. Weekends we get really busy."So to get a taste, go when it’s raining.And keep an eye out for the other smart entrepreneurial move in the Dairy building - the Syracuse bakery selling cookies next to the milk bar.

ESD approves funding for upstate food and agriculture projects

WBFO News file photo

Empire State Development approved funding for two upstate food and agriculture related measures in their meeting Friday.

Farmers in upstate New York will soon have a new place to take their produce for processing and packaging. The ESD unanimously approved the allocation of three grants to the Growing Upstate Food Hub in Canastota village, near Syracuse.

The facility will receive over $2.5-million in funding through a Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) grant to restore a vacant 45-thousand square foot building to house the hub. The project will also receive funding for energy efficiency and a capital grant for equipment.

ESD Central New York Regional Director Jim Fayle says the project was one of their top priorities recently, given the region’s strong agricultural base.

“This should stabilize this facility, have it equipped sufficiently enough that it will not need additional support," said Fayle.

Fayle says the project is expected to be completed within 18-months.

The ESD also approved $2-million in funding for Niagara County Community College to finance the reuse of the old Rainbow mallin downtown Niagara Falls. ESD Acting Chairman Kenneth Adams says the space will operate as a regional culinary center.

“Bringing students and now restaurants, food lovers and people. You know wine tasting events, other food promotional events right to the heart of Niagara Falls in what otherwise had been a derelict facility in which no one could imagine a future, so in that regard it’s a really terrific project,” Adams says.

The Niagara Falls project is expected to be completed within the next month and create 30 new jobs.

A range of other projects for the state were also approved for funding on Friday.

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