Fair Fair fares at a fair Fair affair

I tutor GED for a community service organization and many of my “kids” are convicted felons.  I was under the impression that everyone was mandated to obtain their GED while in prison if they already did not have one nor their diploma but, I am obviously wrong. 

One of my charges was able to obtain a job with the state working at the State Fair in Syracuse.  I applaud the state for giving this guy a second chance and a job, especially since he has no apparent education.  Actually, this guy, with about 16 arrests for drugs and burglary, is a math wiz.  His skill with numbers is amazing.  The problem is, everything he knows is in the metric system because that is the system drug dealers use on the street.  The examples of Sally using inches and ounces make no sense to him and he has little use for the Imperial system in his line of work. 

So he asked me if I would like any comp passes to the fair and I said that I would.  He asked me how many I wanted and I said that I just needed two.  He pulled out a wad of tickets about half an inch thick.  I didn’t ask but I surmised that he purloined this tidy treasure of tickets and while I still applaud the state, this just proves the old adage that sometimes no good deed goes unpunished. 

To make amends for my possibly ill-gotten admission passes, I decided that I would purchase something superfluous valued at twenty dollars from some random vendor at the fair.  I did and I will share that treasure with you later.

There were many pleasant surprises to the NYS Fair.  First, parking was free.  During the drive in, there were no peripheral businesses shutting down for the day in order to make a lucrative profit from their parking lots much like you would find at other fairs such as The Big E.  Parking was plentiful, the attendants were efficient and the lots appeared to be tiered on a hill.  We took the first lot we came to and it was on what appeared to be the third tier.  Much to my surprise, they had shuttle buses running every few minutes to ferry the visitors directly to the front entrance.  The people packing strollers had the option to take a pedestrian walkway high above the freeways of the city. 

On my bus, a couple with three kids decided to haul their stroller and a cooler onto the shuttle where they had difficulty navigating the turn.  While holding up our bus, the driver told them to take the stroller back outside and to the side door where it was a straight line into the bus.  Dad backed out with the stroller only to find that the back of the bus was packed.  The driver said that another shuttle was coming right up behind him.  That left mom alone with the three kids who were bursting with alacrity at the prospect of going to the fair.

At one point one of the children drifted down the aisle a bit and this made mom livid as she openly yelled and threatened the child that she would withhold ice cream, cotton candy and rides.  I felt bad for the kid since he suffered from the ailment of childhood exuberance and I thought that he would probably have been content taking the sky-walk and, it wasn’t his fault that his lazy mom and dad decided to attempt taking a bulky stroller and cooler onto a crowded bus. 

That is another thing, you may bring your own food onto the fair grounds.  Good for the state.  This makes it so that people with limited lucre don’t have to be at the mercy of the price gouging vendors within the park.  However, even that wasn’t necessarily so at this state fair. 

You can often expect to pay three to four dollars for a bottle of water at most fairs.  Not at the NYS Fair.  One vendor was charging $1 and another was asking $1 for two bottles.  Soda:  $1.  Fried dough: $3.  You’d pay five or six dollars for that at other fairs.  A chicken or fish dinner was only $6.95 where at other fairs you would pay at least ten bucks.  Soda not included.

My date and I went to one of the cafeteria eateries where we each had a sausage and pepper sandwich, fries and re-fillable soda.  The total was $15.  That would have cost us about $30 at a fair such as the Big E and other smaller county fairs where gouging the customer is de rigueur. 

There was also a wine tasting tent which sported about fifteen tasting stations where you could try samples from little two ounce cups (I don’t know what that is in metrics) to your heart’s content.  There was another tent offering free and delicious wine slushies.  These sample stations were advertising NY wine makers and both tents were packed. 

Although they were checking ID’s and there were many peripatetic security personnel , this did not deter many teens from drinking at the fair.  Several times I saw kids between tents or around the corners of buildings with a bottle in their hand.  On our shuttle ride back to the car, we suffered the unfortunate malady to be riding with a knot of drunken teenagers and two of the girls were so loud they overpowered the din of the rest of the bus.  Where were their parents?

What was really sad about our day, never have I seen such rude people before (other than in a church parking lot).  While getting on the shuttle to go back to our car, there was a stampede of people as the doors to the buses opened up.  Just in front of us several teens came up the side of the bus and one of them stepped in front of the crowd with his back to us and held up his arms in a cruciform stance.  This blocked the crowd and allowed his friends to slip in ahead of everyone else queued in line.  A woman in front of me ducked under his arm and with her elbow she clocked him in the ribs and then said something of a copulative nature.  The boy doubled over as the crowd quickly overtook him. 

The seats on the bus were contoured so each bench could seat two people.  An Asian woman was alone and she sat on the mini hump in the middle of the seat thus, taking up two spaces.  The bus had standing room only and several people were making snide remarks about this woman taking up two spaces.  She completely ignored them.  A woman behind me muttered from the ancient art of the invective, the “Ch” word, the concision of insult to an Asian.

As I was standing, I rotated my body around so that I could see her and I noticed that she was wearing a crucifix around her neck.  The crucifix, a symbol of passion, compassion, forgiveness, mercy, new life and sacrifice was obviously lost on her.  It was merely jewelry or bling.  As the old joke goes, had Jesus been guilty of a felony today, she would have been sporting either a gold plated hypodermic needle or an electric chair around her neck. 

When we got off the bus, as the horde of people dissipated, one of the drunken teens took it upon himself to whip it out and void right there in the open.  His female companion just stood there and waited.  This didn’t bother me for as a hiker, this happens all the time on the trails and summits.  When you gotta go you gotta go.  Now, had a child witnessed this henious act this boy could have been arrested and ended up on the sex offender registry where he would be unemployable, probably driven out of his home by an angry mob and would not be able to hand out candy on Halloween.  Ironically, anyone who reads the paper knows that most sex crimes are not committed by strangers but by uncles, grand fathers, step dads, cousins and baby sitters.  Sandusky for instance was not a stranger to his victims but a trusted coach, friend and mentor who passed all his background checks and had parents willing to hand their children over to him for overnight stays.

Regarding the urinating in public, this guy could have been more discreet although my date got a good laugh out of it.  I can’t help but wonder, what is the difference between this act and using a mens room?  The fair bathroom was simply a row of exposed urinals.  There was a line of men in there and at one of the porcelain receptacles was an eightish year old boy who leaned forward then cocked his head left and right to inspect the troupes.  Do the police know about this place?

Another moment of rudeness was when we were descending a flight of stairs.  There was an elderly man moving slowly in front of me holding onto the banister with his right hand.  A young woman coming up the stairs was ascending on the wrong side and upon encountering the old man, hugged the wall forcing the elderly man to detach his grip and enter the center fray which was biliously moving in both directions.

At that evening’s Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, the crowd was massive.  It spilled out of the concert area into the pedestrian walkway.  Those people held their ground and refused to move as hundreds of people attempted to filter through them in an effort to get from point A to point B.  Many in the crowd thought the pedestrians were rude.

All in all, the fair was well done, a lot of fun, a great bargain and much better than I made it out to sound.  It is just more fun to whine and complain about something.  I highly recommend the state fair over all other fairs.

About my superfluous purchase item, it is a sound activated, lighted tee shirt.  It will come in handy for my next Halloween Organ Recital and the Rye Bread Music Festival next summer.  It responds very well to bass and has several gradations of lighting.  Here in this video which I filmed downstairs in my basement I could dance with an elan one can only do when no one else is looking.  Okay, you are but, the lights are off and you can’t really see me.  You’ll have to come to Rye Bread and get me drunk in order to see the real thing.  Lucky for me I don’t drink . . . temperance movement – Puritan that I am . . .

-Malcolm Kogut.



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