A Fair day? Let’s call it excellent, from goats to Swons

Somebody up near the top at the New York State Fair has a sense of humor.

Follow the rules, please and thank you.

Follow the rules, please and thank you.

This I could tell as my dear wife Karen and I walked from out most excellent parking spot in the Pink Lot on early Sunday morning to enter gate three. Along the side of the road, I had to grab my iPhone 6 to shoot the kid in the green vest sitting on a barricade with his co-worker because of what the obviously work-issued garment ordered.

Obey Me.

The pair might have been on break. Or they didn’t seen many customers to boss around during the early shift, it not yet being 9 a.m. Yes, we arrived early.

In fact, getting to the big hootenany a few miles outside of Syracuse on the a.m. side is the topic of this week’s Mark It Up community column for Syracuse Public Media site waer.org. You can read it and see more photos by clicking the link below.


We went early instead of our usual late shift to see terrific daughter Elisabeth get her bubble on with her friends.

Elisabeth is the one with the bubbles between her sunglasses.

Elisabeth is the one with the bubbles between her sunglasses.

After my role of photographer dad, the race went on its 5K merry way, and Karen and I continued our usual fair fun.

First stop, the Center of Progress Building, where the vendors gather to sell anything them deem worthy. It’s always worth a look-see to what’s new.

Click on any gallery photo for a description. Click twice on the bottom right photo of any gallery for an enlarged slide show.

We came away with two purchases to stick in our free blue tote bags. I bought a dog-lover T-shirt for Karen and myself from a canine-oriented booth set up by friendly fair first-timers up from New Jersey. Mine’s the green guy reminding me to be good and loyal; Karen’s is the lavender lady with the heart of paws. Karen bought a package of sugar-free vanilla cheesecake to make me at home. We’d never seen that here before. I liked the LED light booth in passing. This year’s sand sculpture was vast and beautiful, too.

Next, Karen suggested we visit the building that houses the Empire Theater and big organ because we never go there. We did not go to the theater or stop to see the organ.

We entered a room filled with quilts and crafts. It was a busy space. There was much to see. I’m not an expert, but all of it seemed extremely well-done. I won’t be clamoring for a return next year. Not my thing.

Outside, I was drawn to a woman holding a bird.

Who, me?

Who, me?

It was an owl, she explained to the children pressed against the fence. I thought it would be fun to watch that majestic looking bird fly and return to her. But showtime was not close by, so onward we went.

Made by Mom's.

Made by Mom’s.

Instead, we passed a line of restaurants that included Mom’s Apple Pie and Dumplings. Yes, please, agreed Karen, who’d enjoyed the warm fruit dumpling from this stand in years past. Yes, too, to the scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yes, I’ll try a nibble or two. We sat at a picnic table with a gent and his wife who were just finishing up a dumpling and a slice of pie. As we were getting done, another couple sat across from us to share a dumpling. We traded friendly greetings and complimented Mom’s work.

The same building also housed the roses.

I stopped. I admired. I smelled. I knew that somebody was having a better growing year than we are in the gardens of the Little Bitty in the Syracuse city neighborhood of Eastwood. OK, lots of somebodies.

Back outside, I made sure to wind my way to pay my respects to the grandstand.

Long did she run.

Long did she run.

I didn’t buy tickets to any of the concerts in this, the last year of concerts at the old outdoor seating set-up where I’d reviewed shows for two decades. I tried to guesstimate to Karen the amount of concerts I covered out there for the big daily from 1991 to 2013, and settled for somewhere between 175 and 200. They’ve build a new amphitheatre across the road from the fairgrounds, and Miranda Lambert will open the Lakeview Amphitheatre with a country show on Thursday. From here on in, the fair paid-admission concerts will be over there. Word has it that the grandstand will be demolished to make way for … progress. But motor sports fans are against that. DIRT racing holds its annual speed week at the grandstand track every October.

Yes, there are serious moments. Karen looked hard to spot the picture of her friend Stacy Duger-Huntington as part of the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNY, Inc., as part of a wall of plaques hung to honor those who fought the disease. Stacy passed away this summer after years of battling cancer, leaving a loving family and so many friends.

Butter up.

Butter up.

It could be argued that the most famous carving at the New York State Fair is the butter sculpture. A new shape is on refrigerated display inside the Dairy Building this year. People ring the glass, pressing their faces against the glass and imagining it on popcorn and potatoes and corn …

We walked into a different, unrelated building totally unaware that we’d meet a whole lot of cows.

Moove it along, please.

Moove it along, please.

Having lived in the dairy-rich Madison County for 14 years, I am no stranger to the big farm beast. In fact, for four years, a herd of them lived not 40 feet from my back door. They often ran to the fence to say hello.

I liked watching the parade of cows in the big ring in the center of the building.

There were many more rabbits than cows. I didn’t see them multiplying in front of me, but, wow, there were a lot of rabbit cages.

Pig's pen.

Pig’s pen.

Some of the baby pigs, though, made no secret that they wanted a piece of mom. Other young ones, though, hung on the other side of the pen. Interesting, I thought.

When’s the last time you heard how loud a real pig can be? I took a video of one to remind all.

We saved our favorite animal building for last.

We love the goats. In the past two years, I’ve discovered how much they love me, two. They jump up as I walk past, daring me to stop and talk.

The goats tired us out. And it was after noon.

We walked across the way to Horan’s, the food and beer stand owned by our former colleague at the big daily, Greg. We ordered two drafts, and said hello to Ron, another colleague who takes vacation time to work for Greg during the fair.

After we sat at one of Horan’s benches, we walked to Chevy Court, where I snagged a Gianelli sausage sandwich with pepper and onions, yes to the platter sides of cole slaw and baked beans. Karen had snagged us a couple of seats in the shade. We wanted to catch some of The Swon Brothers. We’d liked them when they were part of Team Blake Shelton on The Voice.

Personable and dynamic, they were.

Here’s a video I shot of The Swon Brothers at the show.

What might you like to buy and bring home from the state fair? What might you like to eat and drink at the state fair? Which is your favorite photo, and why?


54 thoughts on “A Fair day? Let’s call it excellent, from goats to Swons

  1. ooh, i love so much of this. i haven’t been to a state fair in years. my favs were the kid in the vest, the butter sculpture and the delicious looking apple dessert!


  2. Thanks for sharing what your state fair is like! I’m glad you didn’t miss the bunnies like we did ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’d wanna be all up in those quilts, Mark. But the way they display the New York quilts doesn’t allow a really good look. Ours are behind glass, so you can see every little stitch!
    Years ago we went to the Atlanta zoo and my son got all caught up with a particular goat. Like, they really bonded. It was so unusual, because he was 15, not typical of a boy his age, really. My husband and I could not get over how much he loved that goat, an old billy. The girls had fed and brushed 20 goats, but Bubba just focused on this one. He truly didn’t want to leave. It was precious, and unforgettable. I suppose your affinity for goats and theirs for you is quite similar.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe there are better displays of the quilts than I caught for you in these shots, Joey. I should have hunted them down special for you! Selfish of me to go rushing past like that just ’cause it’s not my thing.

      Bubba’s got a special goat! I love that story, Joey. Every year now one takes a shining to me and hops up on the pen to greet me, like Ellie B would get way jealous if she saw it. I talk to ‘im (or ‘er, damned if I look hard enough to tell) real nice, and we’re friends. So I really relate to Bubba’s chemistry with that old Billy, I do.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great fair shots, Mark. Love the kids in the vest and the animal shots. Our state fair seems to have dropped the cattle. It was so disappointing last year not to see any. Barely any livestock at all. I’m keeping my fingers crossed this year.


  4. It looks like your fair day was excellent indeed, Mark! I haven’t been to a fair in ages. When I was a child in Dallas, the schools there actually closed for fair day, and we got some kind of discount tickets. I think my sister and I were only interested in rides, games, and junky food. I really don’t remember it–just getting off from school.
    We used to take our daughters to the local 4-H Fair when they were young. They liked the animals and fresh fruit ice cream. Blueberry, I think.


  5. “Who,me?” Ha! *snort* ๐Ÿ˜›
    I love fairs! and you’ve captured some of THE best parts of a fair, Mark! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I do love the animal photos! And the roses! BTW: Hope people don’t get the butter mixed up with the sand! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ ๐Ÿ˜‰
    But, my favorite photo is the one honoring those who have battled cancer! I have spend my life helping to raise funds for the American Cancer Society…and as of August 11, 2015 I am now in the battle with cancer myself.
    I’ve been to state and county fairs in 3 different states and have enjoyed them all! ๐Ÿ™‚
    What a fun fair post! ๐Ÿ™‚
    HUGS!!! ๐Ÿ™‚


  6. I wish I had an owl. I love the way they blink and can turn their heads. I would really like an owl.
    According to my parents, my first babysitters were goats way out in the Outback. We didn’t have running water or electricity (my parents were poor students) – but we had goats. If I cried as a little tiny baby they would scurry around tending to me. Funny things goats are.
    I am with you on the quilt thing. I like a nice heavy quilt in the winter, but I sure don’t want to look at a whole enormous room of them with a bunch ladies that all smell like cinnamon potpourri.


  7. Terrific photos, Mark…every single one brings to life a great event! I never went to the NY State Fair but it looks similar to the PA State Fair, feels like home. While I can’t eat at Fairs the way I used to, I would completely dig the BUBBLE RUN! Heck yes! I just ran a 5K at the Lentil Festival in Pullman WA with my daughter. 1st time we’ve run together in a race, awesome. But that 5K had a crazy mountain climb (because WSU is known for walking uphill both ways) so…those bubbles are looking extra good to me ๐Ÿ˜€


  8. Cute goats! They make weird noises, a bit less jarring than that pig. Somebody building sandcastles and molding butter sure has a lot of talent. I laughed at Who, Me? Hoo, me?


  9. You captured it well, Mark. Butter or sand…amazing sculptures ! And about that pig noise, I heard it a lot growing up, and never understood where they came up with “Oink” ? Sounds more like a deep, guttural snore. โ˜บ


  10. I really liked your fair and it truly outshines our county fair, Mark. Our State Fair is pretty great but not comparing. I loved the photo of yhe sculpture, I like all kinds of fair food and cannot wait for Walleye fish sandwich and a funnel cake.
    How are you doing, Mark? I realize rushing to catch up I missed a health bulletin. You are in my prayers, good buddy. I know you eat well, too. You consistently make healthy choices. You share them in your vacation and restaurants posts. I am proud of you and appreciate how you stick with me, when some drop off because of my poor ability to keep up. My 10 hour days will slow down soon at the warehouse. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • I miss your posts in a timely fashion, you miss mine. But guess what, Robin? We always catch up in the end. โค I'm well. The doctor gave me an A again. Thanks for asking! I hope you can rest up from those 10-hour days soon.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s