Adventures at the State Fair

For me, the State Fair is inevitably intertwined with memories of the Johnson City High School Marching Band (Go Cats!). From grades 8 to 12, every Labor Day weekend, the Band would travel to the NYS Marching Band Competition at the Fair, spend the day there and then return triumphantly (or dejectedly, depending on the year) to our home festival, the Johnson City Field Days. Even today, fried pickles, the Footsie-Wootsie and the infamous Angel the Snake Woman with no arms or legs or bones in her body who talks to you are bound up with memories of polyester cumberbunds, sore shoulders (I was a Sousaphone player) and wacky band pranks.

However, last weekend I attended the Great New York State Fair for the first time in my memory as a mere civilian. In some ways, I was dreading the experience--I didn't think it could live up to, or would somehow cheapen, the memories- but I was wrong. The Fair was great, just that perfect mixture of sentimental kitsch and slightly vulgar entertainment.

My first stop at the Fair was on Friday in response to a most unique invitation. I received an email from Sean Kirst, a collumnist and blogger from the Syracuse Post Standard inviting me to join him and other Syracuse blogger for Dinosaur BBQ in the Fair's central courtyard. How could I turn that down?

It's always strange to meet someone that you've only known online. Inevitably, you've formed a picture in your head of who they are physically and socially based off of their words. Sometimes you're right, sometimes your wrong, but for me the mere experience of that first face-to-face encounter always brings home the fact that you're already pre-disposed.

Attending what Natalie calls "Bloggercon 2006" were (I'm going to use Blognames since that's how you probably know them) Sean Kirst, NYCO, Balogh, Josh and Phil. Other blogs have already weighed in on the event and Sean actually wrote an article in the paper (provoking me to send an email to my mother entitled "Look Mom, I'm Famous!"), but I thought now that I've had a chance to reflect I would put down my two cents.

The topics discussed ranged from the lack of an Upstate-wide newspaper of record (a topic NYCO first brought up on her site) to corruption and institutional selfishness in local government and the abolishment of county government. It was refreshing to discuss face to face the issues and ideas that we have for so long only articulated here, on our electronic selves. My human to human debates these days tend to revolve more around dead anthropological theorists (the life of a grad student) than the future of our communities and it was a refreshing change of pace. I could think of no place more symbolically potent for the talk than Kirst's choice of the Dinosaur BBQ tent at the Fair, though actually finding a table might have been an improvement over the benches we ended up at.

In the end, I left the discussion refreshed and excited. I was flattered by the invitation, since my status as a "Syracuse Blogger" is still relatively new and with the attention given to us since (Josh in particular seems to be buttering me up for something). My great hope is that we will all be energized to continue to speak truth to power and improve the state of civic debate within not just Syracuse, but all of Upstate New York. Every chink in the armor will be necessary to bring Goliath down, because I'm not counting upon a divine stone to the forehead anymore.

-Posted by Jesse


Josh said...

i just call 'em like i see 'em, man.

sean said...


i remember, when i was a kid, there was this "hot wheels" set that had what i think they optimistically called an "energizer." you'd put a car with good wheels down on the little orange track and give it a push, and it would hit the "energizer" - which was essentially a couple of spinning rubber discs - and it would kick the car out at high speed, and just when it was slowing to a crawl the "energizer" would give it a kick again.

to me, the bloggerfest was an "energizer." (the danger, of course, was that the hot wheels "energizer" inevitably bent the wheels on the cars, which - hopefully - will not happen to us).

by the way, the whole bucky phillips saga has thrown some light on the often forgotten "york staters" in my native corner of the state - the folks in northern chautauqua county, on the lake erie shoreline between silver creek and ripley, the folks i waxed romantic about in the first post i sent to your site.


Natalie said...

Hi Sean, your comment reminded me that we hadn't posted that yet! (We put it on hold when we first received it so as not too have 2 pizza posts in a row, and it total slipped Jesse and my minds to put it up.) If you don't mind, I'll be posting that later today.