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Image courtesy of Strong Hearts Cafe

When most people think about chowing down at a summer fair, what comes quickly to mind runs along the lines of sausage and peppers, corn dogs, burgers and the like. This year, for the first time, the Great New York State Fair will be offering an alternative, according to an announcement made Wednesday.

Strong Hearts Cafe, a Syracuse restaurant known for a line of 40 different flavored milkshakes as well as its vegan fare, will be running a stand in the fair's International Building throughout the run of the annual event. Strong Hearts, owned by Nick Ryan and Joel Capolongo, sources the majority of its foods locally. Its menu excludes meat, dairy, cholesterol, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrups and trans fats. A complete list of its offerings is available on the business website.

Ryan became a vegan in 2001. While attending Syracuse University where he earned a degree in psychology, he became involved with the Syracuse Animal Rights Organization. Although he briefly pursued a career working with troubled children, his interest in animal rights and the vegan lifestyle led to partnering with Capolongo in their restaurant venture.

Capolongo became a vegan while in high school. He was an organizer in the Syracuse area for the Animal Defense League, heading campaigns against local furriers, animal experimentation labs, circuses and other institutions that featured animal use, as well as educating the public about the vegan diet. His interests took him to Atlanta, then to California. He returned to Syracuse in 2002, where he has continued to advocate animal rights and veganism, becoming active with the Syracuse Animal Rights Organization.

The fair is scheduled to run from August 27 through September 7 at the fairgrounds 581 State Fair Road, Syracuse. Phone: (800) 475-3247.