My usual routine for the New York State Fair is to get up as early as possible, drive to Syracuse to get a good parking spot, and then enter the Fairgrounds.
This year, I tried something different. Instead of driving out to Syracuse, I hopped aboard a Yankee Trails chartered bus. Different experience, to say the least. I still had to rise early and catch the bus at a designated location – in this instance, go to Latham Farms and park near the sporting goods store.
I arrived at the Fairgrounds at 10:00 a.m. Okay. Let’s take the obligatory selfie in front of the I Love New York signage.
Memo to self. Next time, don’t stand in front of the heart when taking the selfie. Kinda looks like I’m wearing a big red brimmed hat.
Six of my photographic artworks have made the walls of the Harriet May Mills Art Center. But as my personal custom, I don’t go into the Art Center until after 1:00 p.m., so as to enjoy the Fair itself. And this year, the Fair’s food vendors have created a program where one can sample various wares for $2. Which explains this little delicacy from the Fried Specialties booth – you know, the ones that will deep-fry anything. Seriously. Anything.
In case you’re curious, that’s a deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Yum-o.
Of course, there are other amazing sites on the Fairgrounds. The 2022 Butter Sculpture features a tribute to 50 years of Title IX and its benefits to women’s sports.
And for the sake of truthfulness, the butter sculpture is not 100% butter-built. It’s got lots of butter, for sure, but the butter is loaded over wooden armatures and then carved to shape. It’s still very impressive, nonetheless.
And thankfully, the Milk Bar still offers 25-cent cups of milk. Whole milk and chocolate milk. Elsie the Cow would be proud. Elsie the Stefanik, however … I don’t care.
Next was a trip to the butterfly garden. The butterfly garden is a fun place, it really is. For $3, you enter an enclosure with hundreds of different butterflies, all of whom can land on your fingers and your clothes.
Trust me. This little guy landed on … well … I’d say he got a wee bit too close for comfort.
No truth to the rumor that this butterfly’s nickname is Deez Nuts.
Okay. Enough stalling. Let’s go into the Harriet May Mills Art Center. The suspense is killing me.
I’ve never had a complete run of all six entries make the walls of the Fair. I’ve had six entries get BOUNCED from the Fair before, so this is a complete reversal of fortune.
And right off the bat … I found We Serve Wayward Strangers, my infrared film shot of the old Toll Gate Ice Cream parlor in Slingerlands.
A second place silk! Ties my best-ever black-and-white image at the NYS Fair, achieved 7 years ago with my black-and-white shot of the Hamilton College Root Glen. And a big win for my Kodak Medalist II (“Kodak Red”). And my first successful infrared image in Syracuse. Nice!
Okay, let’s walk around. Oh, look, there’s Edosomwan Admires His Dunk, my shot of the Sudbury Five centre during the NBL Canada / TBL All-Star Game.
An Honorable Mention for the shot! This matches my best basketball submission at Syracuse, going all the way back to 2009 with a photo from Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena between two teams that don’t exist any more. Another silk for the Nikon Df. Fantastic!
And here’s Katcha’ nu: weso, my photo of the Oneida Indian Nation Christmas memorial along the New York State Thruway.
I wish I could say that third place ribbon was mine, but it was attached to the adjacent artwork. Can’t win them all.
So that’s three. Let’s keep looking. McGowan Hose, my shot of the converted Green Island fire station superimposed with a 100-year-old postcard from that same locale … should be over here somewhere … and here it is.
That’s right. Honorable Mention. Represent the Town and Village. After the Fair, I’m earmarking this piece for BUILT 2022. Just because I want to. Yeah.
All right, where’s my hammer piece? Where’s my lunar eclipse? It’s already claimed a big fat blue ribbon from Iowa, how did it do in Syracuse?
BIG BLUE RIBBON FOR FIRST PLACE, NON-TRADITIONAL! Two blues this year in two of the toughest competitions of Competition Season! The View From Screven County claims another success!!
This is fantastic. My third-ever blue ribbon from Syracuse. Okay, let’s go find The Snowflake Ride, my New York State Fair shot, and make it a day.
Um … you guys … um … that’s another blue ribbon.
THAT’S ANOTHER BLUE RIBBON!!
That’s TWO BLUE RIBBONS at Syracuse! And a second place! And two Honorable Mentions!
This is freakin’ awesome! What a full photogrpahic turnaround! And I’ve got the Big E and Durham coming up later this year … whee!!!!
Okay, more walking around the Fairgrounds. My Yankee Trails bus doesn’t leave for a few hours. And here’s something I didn’t know. The Poultry Barn – in addition to hosting chickens and roosters – also has enclosures for ducks and geese. I didn’t know that people kept geese as pets. In Green Island, they’re considered nuisances, and the mayor will try to ward them off by shooting them with a sound cannon.
But yeah, here’s a photo of a Muscovy duck. No rumor to him being named Aflac.
I took a slew of other photos with my film camera – I brought the Nikon F2S (“Nikon Athena”) with me on this trip, so when those pictures are developed, you’ll see them here.
And before I leave the Fairgrounds, I stopped at the Pride booth. Straight allies gotta represent.
And yes, I’m rocking my WHCL-FM T-shirt. hey, I’m still broadcasting with the station, so I represent in all ways and means.
6:00 p.m. Gotta get to the shuttle bus and meet the Yankee Trails charter before it leaves for 7:00. I should note that the bus driver told us he would pick us all up at the Orange Lot, gate D-2.
I get to the D-2 spot. He’s not there. Hmm. This isn’t right.
After lots of searching and walking … I found the bus. It was at the other side of the parking lot, in the bus enclosures with school buses and other charters. I got on the bus. 6:20 p.m. Plenty of time before we have to leave.
Other bus riders arrive. They’re not happy. They were told to meet at one spot, and had to hike across the parking lot to another. The bus driver explains that he could not go back to that area because the parking lot was full.
Okay. I just hope everybody figures out where we are.
We’re supposed to leave at 7:00 sharp.
At 7:15, the final two riders arrive. “I’m sorry we’re late,” one of them said, “but we had to get on one more ride and the lines were just so long.”
Most of me forgave them for this delay. My aching feet and hamstrings, however … not so much.
Still, it was an incredible day at the New York State Fair. I’ve never had this much success with my photos in Syracuse. Never. I thought last year’s three silks was an incredible achievement; but nowhere in my wildest imagination could I have expected FIVE silks.
Of course, now I have to work on Competition Season 2023.
And preparation for that run starts … oh, right about … now.