Are you raising a city kid who thinks that milk comes in a carton and apples are from the bodega? On second thought, we all know New York City kids are way too precocious for that but I would bet that most of your kids feel more comfortable on a subway than they do on a farm. And, even though they "know" where milk comes from, have they ever actually milked a cow?
If you are looking for a way to get your kids to connect more to the food on their plate, try taking them to one of New York State's county fairs. County fairs are filled with animals, award winning vegetables and lots of farm demonstrations. With county fairs every day of the week throughout New York State for all of July and August if you are planning on heading out of the city you should check these listings to see if you can bring Old Macdonald to life for your little one.
The fair I have gone to many times is the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck which runs this year from August 25th - 30, 2009. Last year we brought our one year old with us and had a great time. We completely avoided the carnival section which is enormous and probably very appealing to older kids and stuck with the old fashioned farm stuff. Depending on which animals your kids like you can find yourself watching a calf be born, cheering on frisbee catching dogs, watching kids at the pony rodeo or just walking through the stables talking to young people who have brought their show animals. The animals are truly beautiful and very loved, last years cows were so big and impressive that our daughter was convinced they were elephants.
The performances are seriously cheesy but early in the day you can catch the talent shows with gems like kids singing and dancing competitions which I completely love. And the fair schedule is also scattered with other kid pleasers like puppet shows, clown acts and mad scientists. Rhinebeck is about a two hour drive from the city and you should expect some traffic as you enter the fair grounds and get a parking spot. Admission will run you $12 a person or $9 if you order them in advance. Once there you will give in to the sugar-coated fried dough and $5 lemonades and as you wander through the crafts section you may even find yourself plotting your first quilting project. Check here for a full listing of New York State's county fairs and, since this is a big state, here is a selection of a few of the other relatively close County Fairs:
Orange County Fair: July 23- Aug2, 2009
Ulster County Fair: July 28 - Aug 2, 2009
Delaware County Fair: Aug 17 - 22, 2009
Dutchess County Fair August 25-30, 2009