Last week the two CT Photo Editors and I made the journey over to the Great New York State Fair, just outside of Syracuse, the city everyone outside of the state pictures when they think of New York. After a week spent in hot and sunny LA, a day spent in the high 60s with almost constant rain at an event filled with meat and dairy was exactly what I needed to remind myself of my Western New York roots.
As a train-loving and overall anti-driving person, Henry convinced us to buy Amtrak tickets to get to the fair which meant we left Rochester on an 8:15 a.m. train, arriving shortly after 9 a.m. Unfortunately for him and Micah, their original ticket purchase didn’t go through and they spent nearly $70 round trip, while I paid $38. The silver lining for them: they did not have to pay the $3 fair admission upon arrival so there’s somewhat of a life-hack for you.
None of us did enough research beforehand to realize that the fair didn’t officially open until 10 a.m., so for the next hour it was us, the rest of the Amtrak passengers, and all the workers, milling about a very quiet fairgrounds. To add insult to injury, some of the food stands didn’t officially open until 11 a.m., and some had run out of corn dogs as it was the last day of the Fair.
After hearing the devastating news that the wine slushies were not slushy enough, we were directed to what I think was the best food I ate all day: a freshly made giant glazed donut. We watched them cut out the dough, pull them out of the fryer and dip them in glaze and were handed the freshest donut I have ever had. They are based in Sarasota, so who knows if I will ever see them again.
It was finally wine slushie time before heading into a petting zoo filled with plenty of goats, two llamas, a pony, and for some reason a zebra and a bunch of camels. They really nailed the New York natural wildlife makeup. Second life hack of the day: Pick up the fallen animal feed that all the tiny kids drop so you don’t have to pay for any of it. This has saved me at least $5 over my lifetime of doing this at Powers Farm Market.
After being enticed by signs for $2 hot dogs, we found a sea lion show. Questionable animal ethics has become a theme for the fair. While watching, I had a favorite fair-food of mine: funnel cake. Afterwards, we stopped by the Milk Bar for 25 cent cups of chocolate milk and sat down to watch part of a horse-jumping competition where one horse refused to go over any of the jumps during its time slot. Good for you, horse.
The guy in charge of playing the Erie Canal documentary couldn’t get the video to show up so we listened to almost all of it in a nearly empty theater with a big blue screen. Where’s my blue light glasses when I really need them? The documentary made some pretty bold claims towards the end, including that the Erie Canal was a large reason that the abolition movement worked and why women now have the right to vote.
After stopping by the Science and Industry building where we encountered a giant pro-prison labor display by the NYS Department of Corrections next to a booth selling CBD products, we headed across the fairgrounds to the Exposition Center. Once the site of where many New Yorkers, including myself, got both doses of their COVID-19 vaccine, it now hosted an I Love NY exhibit (with no mention of Rochester, shame on them), a real (and very large) military drone, along with a kid’s play area. It’s such a versatile space.
After all that and a last minute soft-serve ice cream stop for me, we finished our 10 hour day at the Great New York State Fair by catching the 7:05 p.m. train to Rochester.