Lodge’s, Llamas, Agfa-Ansco and other fun things at the New York State Fair

This just in.  5:00 a.m. is an ungodly hour to hit the road for the New York State Fair.  However, it’s the best time to go – especially on a day when EVERYBODY’s going to Saratoga for Travers Day.  Good.  You guys all go fight for parking and lose your money there.  I’ll go in the completely opposite direction and head west on the Thruway.

The sun hasn’t even peeked over the horizon yet, and it’s road trip time.

Let’s Go, Cardachrome – next stop, the Great New York State Fair in Syracuse.

Of course, a friend and I drove out to Syracuse, and our thoughts were about whether there would be any weather-related issues due to Hurricane Irene.  Luckily for us, the weather was calm all the way out to Central New York.  And we arrived in plenty of time, just as the fair opened its doors.

After walking through several different barns, and watching as several cows were groomed and trimmed for their shows later in the morning, we walked over to another barn, to watch another animal competition.

Say it with me, now… Bloggers support bloggers.  And as sure as six follows five, if I know that a Times Union blogger is competing in an event at the Great New York State Fair, and I’m in the area, then I’m going to show my support.

And in this case, that blogger is Teri Conroy.

Teri’s brought her llamas Tank, Ella and Lisel – along with a neighbor’s llama, Penny – to the Fair, and they’ve been in the barn for the past few days.

Teri Conroy and her llama Lisel getting ready for competition. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Saturday was the last day of competition for the pride of Wunsapana Farm, and listen to what they’ve picked up:

  • In halter class, Lisel picked up a blue ribbon (1st place), and then snagged the purple Grand Champion ribbon.  Ella snagged a blue ribbon, the best in her class out of eight llamas.  Tank snagged second place in his her class, while his her brother (owned by another llama farm) picked up Best in Show.  Another llama that is competing under the Wunsapana Farm stable, Penny, snagged a second place in her class in halter competition.

After Teri showed one of her llamas – Tank – in the Saturday morning agility demonstration, she saw me and said hi.  She then had to take Ella – and later, Lisel – through the agility tests.  Looks like she had a fun day.

After visiting the llama agility run, I went over to the Time Warner Cable building on the Fairgrounds campus, where Time Warner Cable was offering meet-and-greets with various cable television personalities.  At the time we arrived, the personality on stage was Edgar Hansen, one of the stars of the Discovery Channel’s show Deadliest Catch.  We posed for pictures and got autographs with Hansen, and then I asked if he had ever requested that the camera crew aboard the F/V Northwestern ever considered extending the ship’s good-luck tradition by themselves biting the head off of a herring.  “No,” he replied, smiling.  “That wouldn’t be good television, making them do that.”

Okay.  Fun stuff’s over.  Now I get to worry.  Once again.

Actually, this time I’m not completely worried.  My Lodge’s and Agfa-Ansco pictures are guaranteed to be on display at the Harriet May Mills Art Center.  This isn’t something where I just show up and they’re not there.  They’ve passed two rounds of judging, and will be on display.

At least they’re on the walls.  WHERE on the walls, and if anything’s attached to them… THAT’s the big issue.

I have a personal rule and superstition regarding the NYS Fair.  Under no circumstances do I go anywhere near the Art Center until at least 1:00 p.m.  I need to spend some time enjoying the Fair itself – if I go there and find my pictures are ribbon-less, then I’m going to be depressed and want to go home that very moment.  If I go there and my pictures are silked, then I’m going to be so excited that I won’t care about seeing anything else at the Fair.  Gotta pace myself.

In the past two years, I’ve nailed an honorable mention-color in 2009; and a second place and honorable-mention, both in the non-traditional category, in 2010.

And just as I make my way  to the Art Center, I get a call on my cell phone.

It’s from Drew Mosley, he of the Auburn Photography Club.  A few weeks ago, he and I – along with APC members Don Miller and Dean Aversa – met up during our picture drop-off day.  Drew and the APC crew picked up several ribbons, and he and Don Miller were at the Fairgrounds that day.

“We’ll meet you over at the Art Center,” he said.  “Don’t go in until we get there.”

Oh great.  So  I waited – and then Drew and Don showed up.

“You haven’t been in the building yet, eh Chuck?” he asked.

“No,” I smiled.  “Not yet.”

“Okay,” he replied.  “Let’s go in and see your artworks.”

We went inside.  The photographs were on the second floor of the Art Center, and as I entered the facility, I could see the various ribbons won by other photographers.  Couldn’t find my pictures.  They must be further inside the building.

I walked through a couple of rooms.  And there, sure as shooting, was The Agfa Bridge Over Ansco Lake.

And look – it earned a second place ribbon!  Second place, color non-traditional.  That equals my best showing ever at the New York State Fair!! My Nipper’s Polar Panorama photo earned second place color-non traditional last year.  Impressive.  Very exciting.

That really felt good.  I felt like I had finally broken through.  Yes, I wish the Palace Theater and the Railsplitter had earned silk, but second place non-traditional is still dang impressive.

Now where the heck’s my Lodge’s picture…

Come on, it’s gotta be around here somewhere…

I know dang well it’s here, the postcard I received said that it would be shown…

It’s not on this wall, it’s not on that wall…  Oh wait, it’s over here –

Hey wait a minute.

That’s a blue ribbon.

Blue ribbon for first place.



I can’t freakin’ believe it!  Of all the pictures to snag a blue ribbon… it’s the shot I took with the 20-year-old Polaroid PolaBlue film, of Albany’s oldest department store!!  Who knew?

Meanwhile, the Auburn Photography Club is snapping pictures and right, capturing me as I am still trying to re-connect my jaw back into my skull.

Chuck Miller
Yes, I’m still in shock. Photo by Drew Mosley.

And now for all the thanks.  Thanks to McGreevy Photo Lab not only printing and foam-boarding these two award-winning pictures, but also developing the Agfa and Ansco films that were the basis for my splitfilm creation.  Thanks to the judges – Bob Gates, Gale Farley and Louise Woodard, as well as the organizers of the photography competition at the Great New York State Fair for considering these pictures for awards.  Last year, I was completely stunned to win a second place ribbon.  This year… I’m just beaming with pride.  First and second place.  Totally unexpected and totally unprecedented.

This feels good.  Really, really good.  What a great day at the New York State Fair.