Thursday, September 2, 2010

NY State Fair

Maybe because I grew up in proximity to Coney Island I am not enamored of Fairs.  I don't dislike them but also don't have much great pull to go to them either.  My teen years saw lots of ferris wheels, roller coasters and centrifical force rides. My family would go to Coney Island several times a year where we would walk on the boardwalk, eat cotton candy, hot dogs and candied apples.  Sheesh, I don't think I would risk putting my teeth into a candied apple at this point for fear of losing some teeth or caps.   Plus I get to experience Fair Food at most vendings. Not surprisingly that fast food doesn't hold much special pull for me anymore.  Sometimes I think wistfully of when it did and how rare those treats were.

So Tuesday was only my third visit to the New York State Fair.  It's held each year in Syracuse on extensive grounds that are broken up into Empire (NYS stuff, Art and Home Center, Times Square Tower, Science & Industry and the like) Agriculture (cattle, poultry, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, llamas, alpaca, etc), rides, entertainment and food.

Our guild volunteered to demonstrate spinning on the 31st.  Jim and I loaded up the car the night before, then picked up Carole at Wegmans and Cathy in Dryden.
Little did we know it would be an HHH day.  Sunny and bright.  By the time we got to the Fair about 9:30 am the temps were already in the low 80's and climbing.  We got to park maybe 300 yards from a gate.  Loaded most of our stuff onto the cart but I underestimated its ability to carry wheels.  We managed to fit 3 of the 5 wheels and 2 of the 5 stools but the rest had to be carried by hand or rolled. The Wool Center (#34) is about half way down the green section over bumpy old pavement so we were already hot and exercised by the time we found it.

People were already there spinning.  HUH? Turned out to be extra volunteers. The women running this section are very accommodating and made room for us immediately.  

L->R:  Jim with his Pippi spinning cotswold donated to the fair by Robin Nistock of Nistock Farms;  me with my Baynes but spinning alpaca on one of Jim's spindles; Carole on her Baynes spinning Spinning Bunny blue face leicester/ silk and Cathy on her mini spinner plying merino and silk with her Wendy patiently sitting beside.  Behind us is another volunteer from a different guild spinning cotswold on a walking wheel.   

The Wool Center is really rather small.  The picture above shows about a quarter of the demo space.   The rest was taken up by knitters, dyers, carders and a guy tying flies.  Oh and that wonderful fan in the corner probably saved our lives. Plus there was free cold bottled water to drink. The Wool Center also contains a bathroom and a bedroom that is sometimes occupied overnight to help protect the wheels and wool stashed there for the 2 weeks of the fair.  The bedroom is AC'd (making a quick cool break space) but so full of wool I don't know how the person sleeps there. 

By noon the temps were into the 90's.  Just going out to get food felt like a trek in the dessert, although I guess the dessert isn't filled with food vendors and hawkers.

Despite the smallness of the walk through space there were lots of visitors, folks asking questions and sitting a while to watch (or maybe to get out of the sun).  I taught a woman from Long Island to spindle spin (she's a natural) and spoke with lots of people who hadn't seen spinning before.  

By the time the afternoon shift from our guild arrived the temps were already in the high 90's.  We thought about walking around the fair but unanimously decided to head home in our air conditioned car instead. We were sent on our way with a bottle of cold water for each of us.   It felt like a longer trek in that 99 degree heat than in the morning but we maintained our composure, opened up the baking car, loaded the back, and gratefully headed home talking about what a good experience we'd had. 

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