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