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• Pride of NY Harvest Fest thrives in new venue

13 Nov

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY BILL DOWD

The multi-level Empire State Plaza Convention Center debuted as Harvest Fest’s home.

ALBANY, NY — The first day of the 15th annual Pride of New York Harvest Fest is in the record books, and by all accounts it has been a good transition from its original home.

The first 14 Fests in the Capital Region — an extra one began last year in Syracuse — were held in the Albany County suburb of Colonie, at The Desmond, a sprawling Colonial Williamsburg-style hotel and convention complex. This year, as part of a push to utilize more state-owned venues, the New York State Agriculture & Markets Department moved it to downtown Albany, in the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.

Atmospherically, it’s not as upscale, given the convention center’s utilitarian design. However, there is more parking, more room for vendor displays, live music, and today I saw more participation from some of the lesser-known wineries that have been sprouting up around the state in recent years. That, and in increase in the number of craft foods producers from all areas of the state, let visitors to the Grand Tasting rounds try numerous styles of wines as well as ciders, meads, beers, cheeses, breads, olive oils, salsas, sausages, cookies and the like.

A number of vendors agreed with my observation that the crowd is skewing a bit younger, something businesspeople like since they’re trying to get consumers in the habit of looking for New York-made products and the younger you latch on to them, the better chance for continued commerce.

The event continues Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m., with tickets available at the door.

Here are some more scenes from today’s activities:

Joe Messina of Amici Vineyards explains his handiwork.

Roger’s Rustic Rubs & Sauces is headquartered in Hudson Falls.

Carlo DeVito gives the lowdown on his Hudson-Chatham Winery products.

Anticipation .. as the fun goes on.

Campus and vineyards operating side-by-side.

Lupo’s, an Endicott icon, passed out samples of its sauces.

William J. Cooper, in his trademark straw hat, dishes out the sauces.

Thousand Island Winery, one of the lesser-known brands, made its mark here.

Check out my New York Drinks Events Calendar, the most comprehensive you’ll find anywhere.

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