I have lived in New York state for about 40 years. Not once, until a couple Saturdays ago, had I ever attended the State Fair in Syracuse. I’ve been to the Oneida County fair up in Boonville a few times, the Madison County fair back in July, and numerous field days in places like Floyd and Lee Center.
But these eyes had never taken in the butter sculpture in all its refrigerated splendor, these lips had never tasted the .25 cent cup of milk, and these nostrils had never inhaled the famous Gianelli sausage simmering on the grills.
So I decided to join 115,323 of my closest friends on Aug. 28, the third day of the fair, and rectify all that. Wife L, Daughter B, and her Friend A joined me in this inaugural voyage.
I quickly found that attending the fair is mostly about eating; and walking; and saying “yikes” as you people-watch near the Midway; and saying “awwww” as you stroll past the cuddly calf or the just- sheared sheep. I also found that there were more opportunities to buy cheap beer in small plastic cups than I could have imagined.
I first sampled a delicious creamsicle twist ice cream cone in the Dairy Barn. Good move by me. Wife L stood in line for the quarter-a-cup milk, and we wandered over to the butter sculpture. Once you’ve seen that, a trip to Italy and its resplendent sculpture will probably be a let down.
I did the Gianelli thing, enjoying a delicious hot sausage smothered in peppers and nicely encased in a fresh hard roll. It was very good, and while news hounds were not clicking away as they would with a Clinton (he or she), I now understand why it has become a political tradition.
Wife L had a wonderful gyro from a vendor just down the row who apparently wanted to remain anonymous because the sign just said, Gyros. We found a picnic table near the state Department of Environmental Conservation display and enjoyed a respite from all our walking.
I had one of those cheap beers in the small plastic cups, though I could have opted for a more interesting expensive beer in a small plastic cup, which also are available.
The fairgrounds were clean. Not Disney-fanatical clean, but clean. We passed a ton of vendors selling leather goods or cell phone accessories or sunglasses. We enjoyed the Horticulture Building and the Art and Home Center, we visited with a friend of Daughter B who was showing sheep, and we walked and walked.
It was crazy crowded, but it never felt too claustrophobic. Maybe because we left around 5 p.m., before things along the Midway and food areas really picked up, and before Rihanna was to take the stage.
I can now say I’ve been to the State Fair. Every New Yorker should be able to say that, at least once, I think. Whether or not I’ll say it again any time soon is unclear. Depends on if I get to Italy before next August, I suppose.