A warm State Fair story, and cool pictures

After the vanity appointment. (Photo by Karen Miller Bialczak)

After the vanity appointment. (Photo by Karen Miller Bialczak)

My great friend Theresa told me a New York State Fair story that made me very happy during my Saturday morning vanity appointment. Between hair scissoring and beard clipping, she shared of how daughter Althea saved her money all year long to do what she pleased with on visits with mom and dad.

This year, Althea and Theresa went five times. Yes, they love the fair, and Althea had saved $78 besides. Midway Day was quite fun, Theresa said, and the best part even for the elementary schooler was seeing a baby calf being birthed.

Then, on Labor Day, closing day, the crazy-crowded Dollar Day bargain, Althea was trying to win a giant stuffed toy. She’d attempted a couple times on a previous trip, when it cost $3. This time, she’d already spent $6 even though the booth was taking part in the one-buck special. No luck.

Then, Theresa explains, a teen approached her concentrating daughter. “Little girl?” the boy questioned.

At first, the concerned mom wanted him to back off and let her child play the game. Then the teen delivered this news:

“My dad already won the grand prize once and he just won again, and he’d like to give his second prize to you. Would you like to pick out a big one from the top row?”

Yes, nice things still happen. Althea picked the blue stuffie, and David spent the rest of the sweltering day carrying it over his shoulders.

As I posted Wednesday here and over in my weekly community blog for Syracuse Public Media site waer.org, my dear wife Karen and I also were part of that large Labor Day crowd.

And this gives me the perfect opportunity to share a few more choice photos from the great New York State Fair.

Could you do this with a bucket at the beach?

Could you do this with a bucket at the beach?

At the center of the Center of Progress sat the sand sculpture. Artists come in and work for days to create the remarkable piece of art. This year’s paid tribute to the birthday of one Dr. Seuss, a cool cat if there ever was one.

At the last day of the fair, there is no tomorrow.

At the last day of the fair, there is no tomorrow.

With so many choices, you must pick the right place to eat your proper meal. Karen and I again went with Horan’s, owned by our friend Greg Horan, who used to work with us at the big daily. Yes, that’s how the connection started, but I would not have gone there to eat every year for 22 years now if he did not serve me great food. And, as his free beer sign displays, Greg has a good sense of humor, too.

Worth the wait.

Worth the wait.

Of course, the State Fair is more than a proper meal. Karen adores the fried dough, or more specifically, the pizza fritte at the Pizza Villa. They serve it in long strips vs. the round discs at most of the other places. It works for many, as the long lines always demonstrate. They pour on a mix powdered and granulated sugar. Sound good yet?

A place to relax among the masses.

A place to relax among the masses.

After receiving a bag with two strips of fried dough, we headed toward Chevy Court to search for a spot in the shade. The Doobie Brothers would be coming on stage in a half hour. Would we see them? One loop among the filled picnic tables told us no.

Karen led me past walkways and filled tables and benches and umbrellas and the wine court.

Voila. We walked into a shady grass court, practically by ourselves on a day with a crowd of 125,000. There was a ledge to sit upon, direct listening access to the stage, and a partial view of one big screen if I climbed upon a half-wall. We sat with the bag of fried dough and relaxed.

Making out OK at the New York State Fair.

Making out OK at the New York State Fair.

What, no goats, you were asking? Yes, I talked to the goats again this year, and we were on the same page. I told them of our backyard visitors. As slightly confused as they are, they do not like gophers or skunks, either.

What is the best do-nice story you’ve seen or heard lately? Have you ever seen a sand sculpture this large, and if so, what did it depict? What was the best thing you ever made with a bucket at the beach? How long would you wait in line for a strip of fried dough, and what would you like to put on top of it?

50 thoughts on “A warm State Fair story, and cool pictures

  1. The best thing I’ve ever assembled with a sand bucket was a bucket full of freshly dug clams that soon became cooked and dipped in butter – from the sand to the tummy in an hour , now that’s fresh. Ha! I’ve never seen a sand figure that huge before, which is odd as I lived next to ocean beaches for the first 21 years of my life. I’d wait in line a long time for a strip of sugar coated fried dough. Have you ever had a beaver tail? They serve them during the Winter festival here in Ottawa, and they are a flat piece (like a beaver’s tail) of fried dough coated with powdered sugar and stuffed with homemade fruit jam. Ha! Yum, Yum, I can’t recall having seen a random act of kindness that large recently.

    Soundslike the fair was a blast Mark. Love the “Free Beer…tomorrow” sign. Ha! I also noticed that they were serving some of the finest brews – Labatts and Molson. Ha! Can’t get any better than that.

    Great Post mark, brought back lots of memories of fairs.

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    • Well, Paul, the Beaver Tail sounds like a delicious winter food. Fall, spring and summer, too. Fruit filled. Yum yum yum. I do love Labatts and Molson, what with our proximity to your great country. I hardly consider them an import. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. ok, when I first read Making out ok at .. the fair. I thought you and Karen had found a secluded spot within earshot of stage and with partial access to view one of the big screens and then started making out! haha

    Glad you had a good time at the fair. Loved the story of the teen giving a big prize to the little girl. โค
    Diana xo

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  3. I love sand castle competitions, Mark, and have seen some incredible creations in oh! so many places I’ve gone, over the years. I’ve also enjoyed The Doobie Brothers, goats, fried dough, and many stuffed animals, in my wanderings. Thanks for adding to my wealth of experience with this post, friend.

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  4. Mark … I loved the teen’s thoughtfulness and generosity in allowing Althea to select a prize from the booth. Very sweet. There are many unsung heroes out there. Glad you brought this one to light.

    When I worked at WHEN-AM, I always got to cover the State Fair from a trailer set up there. So many tempting foods to nosh on. Pizza Fritte, Carmen Basilio’s sausage sandwiches, Bob Maxwell’s Walk Away Sundaes. I think I’ve mentioned these before. Forgive me. We don’t have a fair here that can compete with the New York State Fair. Thanks for sharing the photos and memories. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • The first visit this year to see Train, Judy, Karen and I went to the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que stand and each had Gianelli sausage sandwiches with pepper and onion. Sweet! But, yes, the Basilio’s holds a special place for me, too. During my review stands I would get Basilio’s with pasta and sauce at least once. Delicious. Fresh warm bread and butter came with it.

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  5. i love the sculpture, saw a few of them once when in atlantic city – very cool, love the fair, love the story of the little one saving for what she most wanted and really, really want a pizza fritte. i would put anything or nothing at all on it, and be very, very happy. of that, i am sure –

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  6. Great sand sculpture. When we go to the seaside Steve always makes a car for our two to sit in! His dad used to do the same for him. We haven’t been to a beach since 2012 so maybe they would be too grown up for that now!
    Hope the smell is gone! – and never comes back!

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      • Reading your blog has made me very grateful that we have no skunks here!

        I think the sand car tradition will live on- I hope so anyway.
        have a good week!

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  7. huge fan of state fairs ๐Ÿ˜€ will stand in lines for extraordinary ice cream. Taking a pass on the fried dough, though. (unless of course it’s the flavor of a beer, haha)

    We saw a calf and a pair of sheep twins being born at a Miracle of Birth barn on our latest visit–score.

    Sadly, I’ve never made anything with a bucket in the sand ๐Ÿ˜ฆ A do-nice story? Sadly, am drawing a blank there, too.

    On the upside, thumbs-up on the vanity app’t!

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    • Thank you for the thumbs-up on the vanity appointment, Liz. I must be vain to have that as my first takeaway of all your comments, no? ๐Ÿ™‚ The fried dough does not have to taste like beer because, quite naturally, beer is available quite nearby to quaff along with it! Calf and sheep twins. That was quite a score for you. Nice.

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  8. Your nice story is the best I’ve heard/read today. How wonderful. I love nice people doing nice things. ๐Ÿ™‚ And your vanity day looks like a success! ๐Ÿ™‚ Hard to improve on such a pleasant face! And I think I love the Dr. Seuss sculpture more than any other sculpture !!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thank you for all of these wonderful comments, Colleen. I surely appreciate them today.

      Nice people doing nice things are a treasure, for certain, in our world. My face likes its vanity appointment day! And Dr. Seuss deserved that center stage, big time!

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  9. Aww, what a wonderful story!!! That was so sweet! I do love that Dr. Seuss sculpture. They used to (maybe still do) have big sand sculptures like that at Daytona Beach. But I don’t remember what they were. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I’m one of those weird people who actually don’t like fried dough fair food… But I DO love fair lemonade! Oh, and I love how they sometimes have a drilled potato! YUM! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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