It's time once again for the New York State Fair.
The first fair took place in Syracuse in 1841 and took permanent residence there in 1890. It is the oldest and one of the largest State Fairs in the United States, and with approximately one million visitors annually, it is ranked third only behind Minnesota and Texas.
The Great New York State Fair begins on the third or fourth Thursday in August and runs for 12 days, ending on Labor Day. The 2013 fair runs from August 22 – September 2, so you still have several days in which to visit.
If you didn't get to attend during the free days for Seniors, don't worry. It's usually quite crowded on those days, as one can imagine, with free admission, $1 bus rides via Centro from several locations around Onondaga County, and senior discounts, free shuttle rides, and more. The tickets are typically only $6 for admission; if you didn't get early tickets, someone is usually selling a couple of extras around the main gate. I often buy extras that I don't need and sell them to folks who are in line to buy tickets at the gate.
This was the first year that I took myself to the Fair by myself. I wanted to be able to walk around unhampered by what other people in my group wanted to do, look at things, taste samples, talk to people, and most of all...avoid the midway! (Don't worry, I am going again with five of our local grandchildren and I won't be missing the midway that day!)
I'm not much for crowds, so I avoided trying to get a seat to listen to the free Chubby Checker concert in Chevy Court. Each day, at 2 pm and 8 pm, there is a free concert featuring various recording artists. You can also purchase tickets for the big name Grand Stand acts, which also gives you a free ticket to the fair itself on the day of your concert. But I really enjoy listening to some of the musicians who play at various smaller venues around the Fair. This year, I listened to a family group named Dragonfly, playing acoustic guitar and singing great harmonies, in front of the Artisan and Log Cabin. Also caught a few minutes of an impromptu steel drum band out on the street behind the New York State park.
If folks aren't too thrilled this year by the butter sculpture, they will love the sand sculpture, now located in the Center of Progress Building.
I strolled through all the major buildings, just skimming the poultry and dairy buildings, knowing full well I will visit them at length with the grandchlldren in two days.
I registered for our Star school tax exemption, and bought an EZ Pass for the car that I've been wanting, so I can stop saving up change in a jar for tolls! In the Arts and Home Center, I marveled at the beautiful quilts and other projects, and bought myself some new soy candles. I did avoid buying one called "Monkey Farts," but the hubby says he would like that scent, so I will get him some next time.
I got my hands and arms massaged with various creams to defy dry skin, tasted candies, peanuts, wines, wine slushies, salsas, apple butters and more.
In the Pan African Village, I had a couple of favorites: empanadas and plantains. Then went off to buy some lottery tickets, won a few bucks and then spent that back on some more tickets. Made my contribution to the lottery fund.
I stopped to watch the old Salt Water Taffy pulling machine at Normant's, and crossed over to have one of my favorites: Pizza Fritte, a long fried dough sprinkled with sugar. Sat with the bunnies in the poultry barn to have my snack while I listened to the sounds of all kinds of critters. This was another building I knew I would be visiting with the grandkids, so I didn't linger.
Instead, I went to the reconstructed Log Cabin building and outside, caught the annual Tool Chest demonstration with Nick Nichols, who brings a variety of antique tools and tells many great stories about each of them as he shows the crowd how they are used.
A new demonstration that I enjoyed was John Bielik's Historical Marbled Paper, located directly behind the Tool Chest out on the lawn. With a flick of the wrist, he knows how much "paint" to drip into a large wooden box that is filled with water adjusted to thickness by Irish Moss. He would then drag a rake (it looked like a stick of wood with nails driven in at the same lengths along it) through the water to get the colors to form patterns. This is an old Turkish method of designing paper, and you can even buy one of this prints.
I haven't told you half of what is available to see and do at the Fair. Sometimes, long lines prevented me from trying some things out, like the Baked Potato that everyone raves about. I just couldn't stand there for that long waiting for a potato. For daily schedules between now and the end of the Fair on September 3, go to http://www.nysfair.org/your-fair-visit/schedule-your-itinerary/.
Of course, you understand that my grandchildren could not have tolerated most of my activities, but I certainly enjoyed my afternoon at the Fair, and will enjoy another, younger perspective in a couple of days!