And off to the New York State Fair we go …

Syracuse on a Sunday.  I can do this.

Today is the day when I find out how my artworks – four photos and three crafted projects – did at the 2019 New York State Fair.  Truly I am a creature of habit.  And truly I have superstitions and routines when I visit any site at Competition Season time.

For example, for the New York State Fair I need to arrive as early as possible.  This guarantees good parking – right in front of one of the shuttle bus stops – and easy access to the park grounds.

Then a walk around the park, checking out the morning animals – and stumbling across a reptile wildlife demonstration.  So when the demonstrator asked if anyone would like to try on a boa constrictor – what the hell, why not?

I also made a pit stop into a butterfly garden in the Horticulture building.  For an additional $2, you went into a room with thousands of butterflies, and you could feed them and take pictures of them – and in many cases, they could land on you.

This little monarch butterfly landed on my Q-tip – they gave us Q-tips to dip in nectar, and the butterflies would land on the Q-tip and sip the nectar.

Another butterfly landed right on my finger.  It must have still had some nectar on it.

Of course … I’m not sure how I got nectar on my forehead, because … well …

Okay, it’s 1:00.  I do NOT enter the Harriet May Mills Art Center until the clock strikes 1:00 p.m.  Another tradition.  This forces me to visit the Fair’s other attractions, and not just drive up, see my artworks, and drive home.

Remember what I said a month ago?  I laid down the challenge.  I have seven entries in the Fair this year – four in the photography category, and three in the Arts and Crafts category.  If anything takes a ribbon this year – I will eat one of the “Sudden Death” Fair sandwiches.  And if any of my artworks claim a silky blue ribbon … then hell yeah I’m getting one “Sudden Death” to eat at the Fair, and one “Sudden Death” sandwich to go.

What is the “Sudden Death” sandwich, you dare ask?

That’s right.  Two burgers, stuffed with mac and cheese, pork belly and jalapenos … all wrapped up in a weave of bacon … and deep-fried.

Sure makes a change from the “Defibrillator” and the deep-fried matzo-ball snacks I had in previous years, eh?

Okay, it’s 1:00.  Time to enter the Harriet May Mills Art Center.

Fingers crossed.

Okay, there’s Romance on Gondola 23 over here…

No ribbon, but it’s on the wall.

Maybe I’ll have better fortunes with my splitfilms.  What say you, Senses Working Overtime?

It’s on the wall … but no ribbon.

Certainly 88 Minutes in Chinatown has some love …

Well, it’s at least viewable.  Three pictures on the wall … no ribbons.

My last chance is After the Rain, my macro photo of a drenched dandelion.  Deep breath … and …

It’s on the wall – and it has a ribbon.  Honorable Mention.  Sudden Death sandwich it is.

Wow, After the Rain is getting all the silk this year.  Let me rephrase that – I’ve entered three competitions, and of all the pictures I’ve submitted, only After the Rain has received decorations.  I either have to concentrate more on my B&W macro technique … or I have to pick up my game in all the other disciplines.

So my first photographic ribbon in nearly four years.  Progress has been made.  There are dents in the #Syracurse.

But I had three other images in the Fair this year … and they’re over in the Margaret Baker Eddy wing of the Arts Center, in the Arts and Crafts section.

Let’s check ’em out.

My second-ever entry of a stitched burlap sack, my Eastern States Farmer’s Exchange burlap is …

Honorable mention.  This artwork picked up a third place silk at the Big E last year, so that’s two silks for this burlap stitchery project.

Over here is my hooked rug with the Mail Pouch Tobacco barn from Dutchess County …

And it has a ribbon … and it’s …

Second place.  This matches my best-ever results in the Arts and Crafts wing, equaling my Soda Crate Hope Chest from two years ago.  Eventually I gave that hope chest to a friend of mine, it’s now a toybox for his daughter.  Reuse and recycle.

All that’s left is my Bob & Ron’s Fish Fry latched hook wall hanging project.

Deep breath.

Deeper breath than that.

And …

That, folks, is a big fat blue ribbon.  Big fat blue ribbon for a big fat first place.  My first blue ribbon at the New York State Fair in over eight years.  My first-ever blue in the Arts and Crafts wing.

I had to take a closer look.  Trust me, after the first-place-but-really-third-place snafu three years ago at the Fair …

I guess it’s time for me to get a late lunch.

And I walked over to the “Fried Specialties” booth at the food station midway.

I am a man of my word.  Challenge achieved … challenge accepted.

You see, the diet soda actually counterbalances the fried food … isn’t that how dieting works?

Anyways, I ate the Sudden Death sandwich.  And my stomach didn’t like it.  Sorry.  I’m not going to lie.

So what do you do when you feel like you’ve eaten something angry and spicy and it wants to crawl out of you like you’re John Hurt in the Alien movie?

You go over to the Glatt Kosher fried foods eatery, the Catering at the Oaks booth.  And although they didn’t have the deep-fried matzo balls any more … which I liked … they still had the deep-fried apple blintz a la mode.

At about 4:00, I was done.  The Fair was fun this year, and the fact that I claimed my first blue in the arts and crafts category, as well as my first ribbon in the photography department in four years, was a very nice touch.

In fact … let me do some statting here.

  • After the Rain joins The AGFA Bridge over Ansco Lake as the only photos to claim silks at both the New York State Fair and the Altamont Fair.
  • After the Rain becomes my first photo to claim silk at the New York State Fair in four years, the last ones being Lane 2, The Walkway and Vivaldi’s Pond in 2015.
  • 88 Minutes in Chinatown and Senses Working Overtime become my first-ever splitfilm images to get on the walls of the Harriet May Mills Art Center since The AGFA Bridge over Ansco Lake in 2011.
  • Romance on Gondola 23 becomes my first picture with human subjects in it to make the walls since way back in 2009 with Action Under the Basket, my photo of a Rochester Razorsharks / Manchester Millrats basketball game.
  • The Bob & Ron’s Fish Fry latch hook rug becomes my first-ever blue ribbon in the arts and crafts category.
  • This is the third time a picture featuring Bob & Ron’s Fish Fry has claimed a silk in any competition – my 2016 Dream Window with an electrified Bob & Ron’s sign garnered a blue at Altamont, while a 2013 splitfilm photo of the fish fry sign, titled The Lenten Meal, achieved a third-place silk that year at Altamont.

And I still have the Big E and Durham to finish.  And yes, After the Rain is scheduled to appear at both competitions, so there’s still the possibility of a “triple blue” photo achievement.

But right now I’m … as happy as I am for the results …

My stomach isn’t happy.

Because that Sudden Death sandwich kept me up all night.

And I’m still feeling the remnants from it today.  Owie…

Maybe by next year I’ll develop a heartier stomach in case positive results are achieved in Syracuse.

Either that, or I’ll go eat at the Kosher stand again. 😀