A Different Experience At this Year’s Great NYS Fair
Another adventure in Central New York's "Salt City" is in the books as I completed my 2 day pilgrimage to this year's GREAT New York State Fair in Syracuse. Although, a part of me STILL wishes I was out there to experience more fun at "The Grand Daddy" of ALL expositions, it is nice to return back home to The Berkshires to resume my normal routine here at YOUR Home Town Station.
For starters, my arrival on Monday morning was exciting, but it was a completely different atmosphere as crowds avoided this year's festivities due to the turnaround of COVID-19's return. It was NOT Grand Central Station as attendance levels were lower than expected, but for those who showed up, it showed that a sense of normalcy returned and the void left from last year was worth the wait, even though masks and social distancing were rampant.
A robust crowd was present to catch wild birds of prey show which began at 11:15 am as I even volunteered to be a motionless cactus while a peregrine falcon was flying parallel to me and 5 others from the brave audience ventured onto the stage. It was an interesting experience (if you ask me) as this presentation was worth a second appearance on the following day.
Then it was off to watch the LIVE 12 noon newscast featuring my good friends Brandon Roth (YES, he IS David Lee's 1st cousin: their fathers were brothers and I am NOT exaggerating on this fun fact) and his weather sidekick, Mike Brookins as they both spotlighted the day's events at the fair and vendors brought assorted fair food as Brandon showcased his specialty of sampling the fare in his segment "Brandon's Bites" and let me tell you, he has a voracious appetite for sure!
The fair is NOT complete without a stop for their world famous "pizza frite" which was my lunch time snack and then it was off to the New York State Police tent for a live canine show that is always entertaining and informative to watch each and every year. I also went to The State Police historical exhibit where they had a plethora of memorabilia from their years of existence serving the public since 1917. The slide show was also a stroll down memory lane.
Chevy Court presented singer Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits as he performed his timeless classics for a hefty crowd. I was smart to watch from afar, mask was on and sang along to his music which was a staple on my transistor radio and throughout my radio career. I re-connected with him from a distance by purchasing an autographed CD of his Greatest Hits and after all these years he remembered me as "Ron On The Radio", a TRUE badge of honor from one of the world's beloved singers from the British invasion era of music.
The Exposition Center was a nice stop to get some air conditioning as Monday offered a mid 80's humid day which made walking around a little arduous. The sand sculpture was housed in this building, moving from The Center of Progress complex where it served as home base since I first came out in 1989. This year's theme was banding together during the trying times of COVID-19 which was co-sponsored by National Grid.
Back to the CNY Central news booth for my usual visit with dear friends Chief Meteorologist Wayne Mahar and evening anchor, Matt Mulcahy as they presented their 5 and 6 pm newscasts LIVE from the fair as they also gave comprehensive recaps and interviewed vendors and performers of the day's activities at the fair. Matt's co-anchor, Megan Coleman was present for Tuesday's broadcast. Even though we were socially distant, it is ALWAYS GREAT to catch up with near and dear people in my life during this excursion.
Before leaving, a usual stop at the Greek food stand, parallel to gate 4 where my friends from New York City, Perry and Chrysoula served up a terrific gyro dinner accompanied by a bottle of iced tea as my native land was well represented again at this year's exposition. By then, all the walking and excitement of day 1 came to a close with another chapter awaiting me on Tuesday.
Day 2 was more comfortable weather wise as Tuesday featured stops at The Hall of Health and a 1:30 show at the circus tent with impressive clowns and acrobats entertaining a packed audience as the presentation was breath taking and exciting under the big tent. it was a mesmerizing and memorable half hour with kudos to ALL who graced the stage.
Afterwards, my mandatory stop at the fair's Indian Village as various upstate New York tribes entertained and informed their audiences with valuable lessons about life during these trying times and we learned a lot about their cultural background. It was a half hour to tune out and experience unique entertainment that was a joy to watch. I also chatted with the stars of this how who were so down to earth and pleasant in nature. Highly recommended if you are planning to visit the fair for sure!
Afterwards, a visit with LIVE animals including giraffes and zebras preceded the Hollywood Racing Pigs taking center stage for a 3 pm contest that was located parallel to the Expo Center as this quintet of athletes showed their racing moxy to a robust crowd. During all these presentations, I took all necessary precautions to mask up and social distance from everyone.
I returned to The State Police exhibit to take more pictures of this wonderful presentation and YES, I indulged in my usual fair food staples including a Byrne's Dairy frozen yogurt, chocolate and strawberry milk with as top at the annual Butter Sculpture and more pizza frite. I was happy to say, NO deep fried Oreos or Twinkies were consumed on this trip. It was a little hard to stick with my diet, but I was careful.
Tuesday also featured my usual stops to see my friends at CNY Central at noon and 5 and the night capped off at Chevy Court to catch country singer Jamey Johnson in concert as the show was introduced by my radio brother, Skip Clark. And the pilgrimage came to a close around 9 pm. Till next year, but to tell you the truth I wish I was STILL there for the duration of this big show which continues until Labor Day (September 6th).
(Photo image of The New York State Fair's entrance courtesy of their Facebook page)