Multi-million dollar investment at Fairgrounds

July 16, 2014 Updated Jul 16, 2014 at 8:50 AM EDT

By Elizabeth Carey

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July 16, 2014 Updated Jul 16, 2014 at 8:50 AM EDT

The Erie County Fair begins in just three weeks and construction crews are scrambling to finish a multi-million dollar project at the Fairgrounds in Hamburg.

A brand new 60,000 square foot Agriculture Discovery Center will replace three barns that once stood on the Erie County Fairgrounds. The price tag will reach nearly $8 million.

A signature tower will soar 65 feet into the air and will illuminate the Fairgrounds, but assistant Fair manager Jessica Underberg says the real purpose of the high tech facility is to teach the public about the importance of agriculture.

"People are not connecting where their food comes from," Underberg said. "We felt that, as part of our mission statement, it's our job to make that connection."

Underberg says it truly is a modern facility compared to the old barns. "It has a robot that actually milks cows. We have a combine that will be a simulator so little kids and adults alike can climb up in the seat and feel like they're the ones driving it down the field," she said.

Fairgoers will still find favorites like Ag-Sperience and Milkable Mabel inside the new facility, which celebrates the history, as well as the advances, of agriculture.

Once the Erie County Fair ends, Underberg says the $8 million investment will go a long way to educating Western New Yorkers year round. "Outside of the 12 days of the Fair, we'll be having field trips two weeks out of every month in this building for Western New York kids."

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