This Is The Absolute, Epic Grand Daddy Of State Fairs
Hard to believe when I was growing up in my ol' hometown of New York City, there was no knowledge on my part The Empire State had a yearly fair that has been in existence since the 19th century (1841 to be exact). It took me a while to discover this palatial mecca as my first pilgrimage to central New York took place back in 1989 during my K-LITE days in neighboring Albany, New York as my Program Director had a pair of passes and a press credential and asked me if I was interested in covering a day full of events at The New York State Fair in Syracuse.
I gladly accepted as my journey took me to all the exhibits and attractions capped off with a chance to see the great Tony Bennett at Chevy Court. In turn, this became a yearly ritual for me as my return to what I call "The Grand Daddy" of fairs became a staple of my summer vacation as my appearance was also work related in nature, but I managed to have fun in the process.
Many thanks to the late, great Joe LaGuardia and Terry Kuhl who always took care of me throughout my yearly visits during the 1990's as my excursion took me to such places including The Center of Progress and Horticultural Buildings, Indian Village, LIVE circus performances, farm animals, watching racing pigs circle around destined to win, museums, exhibits, concerts, the assortment of fair food (mandatory to sample the fare) and most of all this venue gave me a life long assortment of friends in the Syracuse TV and radio realm, people I've known for half of my lifetime and I treasure each and every individual that connected with me.
It was at the fair where I met "my second dad" Papa Joe Turrisi in 1990 as he was the former floor manager at WSTM-TV during the station's hey day and he continued in that post until his retirement. Former news anchor Laura Hand re-connected me and Joe after he left channel 3 as I wound up as his guest at his beautiful cottage in Sylvan Beach and oh the stories we shared together. In one word: precious. Our life long bond ended after his passing in 2013, but to this day, he is STILL with me in spirit. Love you, Papa Joe.
And now begins another journey out west, only this time I visit and take in the sights and sounds of the fair as a spectator as my two day pilgrimage will be a little different this year than usual. The event was cancelled last year due to COVID-19 as fairgoers are encouraged to mask up and properly social distance. My itinerary is to do lots of walking, exploring and I'll try to steer away from the food (although I admit there will be some indulging, but not too much). When I get together with my friends in TV news, it will be "from a distance" this year as the interaction has been capped due to the pandemic.
I look forward to the FREE shows at Chevy Court where Peter Noone with Herman's Hermits and The Oak Ridge Boys will take center stage on Monday and Tuesday, plus there will be opportunities to visit with local friends from the central and western New York areas to check out these shows and sample some fair food with them in the process. Again, Moderation is the key.
The new Exposition Center is a sight to see as my first appearance in this fascinating building took place 2 years ago. It is a magnificent display of technological and traditional exhibits that will enthrall all visitors. Kudos to the New York State Police as they keep everyone safe while at the fairgrounds plus their LIVE canine shows and informative information booth is a mandatory stop as troopers also are available to answer your questions regarding road safety and protecting your residence on a daily basis.
The GREAT New York State Fair runs until Labor Day, September 6th. Further details can be found by accessing their web site and don't forget to LIKE their Facebook page If you are inclined, I encourage you to head out west and check it out. Maybe, I'll see you out there roaming around. In one word, the experience is AWESOME. Hopefully by next year, things will return back to normal as the pandemic has switched things around, but let's consider ourselves lucky the show will go on as scheduled.
Syracuse, here I come. See you at THE FAIR!
(Photo image of The New York State Fair courtesy of their Facebook page)