As a child, my family had attended the Great New York State Fair in Syracuse a few times. But it has been a LONG time since then.
I didn’t remember how enormous the state fair, founded in 1841, was. The Fairgrounds is a 375-acre exhibit and entertainment complex that offers entertainment year-round. The first day we attended, Saturday, August 31, the event broke its the highest single-day attendance record with 147,749 attendees.
Apparently, the state had made significant improvements in the past four years. Fortunately, they have trams traveling around the perimeter of the area.
Although the gates open earlier – and getting there early is a good idea – most of the buildings don’t officially open until after the Star-Spangled Banner is sung at 9:55 a.m.
We found ourselves in Indian Village, where there was an authentic longhouse. We were treated to dances by members of the Six Nations. According to the MC, the land is technically a reservation of the Iroquois people. This was as a result of a promise Franklin D. Roosevelt made to the tribes in 1928 that it would be so if he ever became President.
This explains an oddity I noticed. Everywhere else on the fairgrounds, bottled water was $2, though the price of soda varied wildly. This was a result, one vendor outside of the village, told me was set by the state of New York, for some reason. But the water in Indian Village, at least on that day, was only $1 because it was not under the state’s jurisdiction.
WEGMAN’S HOME AND ART CENTER
We spent a good deal of time in the home and art center. It had a number of vendors. My wife was taken by the kitchen appliances and bought a few.
I made a purchase from an unlikely locale, the model train room. There were maybe a dozen and a half LPs, mostly from the 1960s. Actually, I owned many of them or had most of the songs on CDs. But I was compelled to buy for $1 Vaughn Meader’s “The First Family”, a comedy parody of the Kennedys. It was an enormously successful 1962 album that was #1 on the charts for twelve weeks. The assassination of JFK in 1963 made it suddenly unfunny.
There was a room where a woman was playing an organ recital. Among other songs, she played Lover. I KNOW that song, but how? It’s not Deanna Durbin version and CERTAINLY not the frantic Peggy Lee take. Of COURSE: I recognized it from The Supremes Sing Rodgers and Hart, the ONLY album of mine by the trio that somehow survived the Great LP Theft of 1972.
I came across the arts and crafts section and found the three pieces by Chuck Miller, a local blogger I know. We meander around the building and find four of his photos. How many did he have accepted? I asked a woman in the section. She said, “Ah, Mr. Miller!” (What did she mean by that?) He did only have the four out of six submitted.
There were other interesting pieces of art. Naturally, one guy did a couple of famous paintings such as American Gothic with dogs.
THE ONE ANNOYANCE
My daughter bought a backpack in the Pan-African Village. We consumed maple ice cream. Though we wandered through the midway, we opted against taking any rides.
I had purchased $10 tickets only a couple weeks earlier online. Thus, I was quite perturbed to discover that, apparently at the last minute, there was a special promotion offering admission for just $1. It was suggested we buy the dollar tickets, keeping the $10 tickets for next year, despite the clear indication on the $10 tickets that we could not do so.
We had taken a hotel shuttle to the fair, and by 4 p.m., we were ready to call it a day, even though we would miss Rick Springfield at 8 p.m. Ah well.
The title, BTW, is from a movie called State Fair, which came out in 1945 and was remade in 1962, about the “Ioway” event. Here’s the theme song from the latter, composed by Rodgers and Hammerstein.