The Erie County Fair is a sweet place for many area businesses and organizations to market their products.
That's why maple syrup producers are tapping into opportunities at the fair. The Western New York Maple Producers Association has a series of booths with a large variety of maple products.
While March is maple month in WNY, President Greg Zimpfer says the producers rely on year long sales. "There is more and more producers who do maple syrup for living," he said. "To a lot of farmers, it's a big part of their income to help them out at slow time of year. There's no crops going on at that point in time so it's a good additional income."
Zimpfer says Western New York is the perfect place to produce maple goods, with a lot of trees and a lot of hills. In fact, he says Wyoming County is the second largest producer of maple syrup in New York State.
While syrup is the top seller by volume, Zimpfer says producers are always coming up with new, creative maple products. "We have a lot of different food products," he said. "We have our maple cappuccinos. We have maple ice cream, maple slushies, maple snow cones. We got maple coated nuts, obviously maple syrup, maple sugar candy maple hard candies and traditional maple cream that's been around forever."
Zimpfer says the cotton candy is a huge hit with both kids and adults, while I have to vouch for the maple syrup hot sauce, which was very good.
And if maple's not your flavor, a local family is frying up business at the fair. The Staub brothers are known for the stand Jim's Fries. This year, they've added a second stand, featuring tacos, as the second generation of the Staub family gets in on the fair food action.
Many of the vendors I spoke to at the fair say they are excited to take part since the Erie County Fair attracts about a million people every year. Vendors say those fairgoers are ready to eat and ready to spend.