State Fair Hound

An independent view of the New York State Fair

Month: April 2015

Clearing the Air

With four months to go to opening day, announcements flow regularly from the New York State Fair, including some very welcome news regarding Chevrolet Court decorum. A long-overdue ban on smoking cigarettes on the benches and in the grassy area was announced last week, fulfilling a frequent and emphatic demand from your State Fair Hound.

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It’s a no brainer when you consider the close quarters involved with fans sitting literally hip-to-hip and thousands more standing tightly-bunched for shows in the courtyard. We’ll go on the record as saying that we don’t favor a Fairgrounds-wide ban on puffing as those afflicted would be too severely affected by such a law. But there are places—and Chevy Court is clearly among them—where non-smokers need to have a chance to breathe.

The Chevy Court experience still needs much improvement, but this is a giant leap.

Another change we applaud is the relaxation of beer and wine sales rules to allow vendors to serve until 11 p.m. Last call has come as early as 9:30 in recent years in an effort to control over-imbibing and related behavior issues. But drinkers who are going to cause problems will find a way, regardless of time, and there’s no use punishing everyone for the poor behavior of the few.

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Use some common sense, though. If quaffing a few is part of your Fair fun, plan ahead and take the bus or travel with a designated driver, OK.

Chow Hound

The Hound heartily recommends a television show that never fails to bring to mind the New York State Fair. The Cooking Channel has been running a half-hour series called Carnival Eats. It features lanky Noah Cappe as the personable and enthusiastic host, traveling around the US and Canada visiting fairs and festivals to sample some of the unusual alfresco eats being cooked up by vendors.

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We haven’t seen Cappe visiting our Fair, but some of the food looks familiar, as he has featured blooming onions, deep fried pickles and barbecued ribs. What’s most intriguing is his reveal on foods that haven’t made their way to us yet, some of which look delicious. Maybe we’ll soon get to sample a lobster corn dog, a peanut butter cobbler or a strawberry/arugula pizza. One guy showed him how to make a thanksgiving waffle, pouring stuffing mix into a waffle iron to make the platform for his roast turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce.

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Some of the freakish foods lean toward the revolting as they deep fry everything from butter to gummy bears. Some vendors go for shock value, like the one who puts scorpions on pizza. Yuck!

After learning how to make the various fair treats, the quirky Cappe digs in and gives his reviews, which always come out positive, often glowing. He then interviews patrons for their take on what’s on the menu.

The show is tasty fun for midway connoisseurs, supplemented by camera shots of the rides and action nearby, again looking familiar to local State Fair hounds. The scheduling of Carnival Eats is irregular, so you’ll have to look for it. You can also find recipes and full episodes on the Cooking Channel website. For Fair fans, it’s mouthwatering inspiration.

Holding Court

Did you catch the April 1 television interview with Acting Director Troy Waffner discussing the recent concert bookings for the 2015 New York State Fair?

Troy was explaining that the scheduling of two rap acts for Sep. 2 is part of a strategy to diversify the Chevy Court lineup. No argument here that bringing in a wide range of talent strengthens the attraction of the Fair’s free venue, but we do have a couple of thoughts that we’re hope are being addressed as planning for this year unfolds.

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We’re partial to shows that bring in singers and musicians who can be classified as pioneers or classic examples of their genre. We didn’t see much of that last year, but the Fair has certainly had its share recently from the Temptations to the Buddy Rich Band to the Grand Ole Opry show. It’s a great opportunity for fans of some of these beloved acts, not often featured on local bills.

Meanwhile, nothing has been announced that would lead to a more enjoyable experience in the courtyard but we’re still hoping that a new code of conduct for the notoriously rude fans will pick up on a couple of ideas proposed by the Hound (Four To Go, Aug. 29, 2014).

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We’re not shy about repeating what we think are two great ideas—requiring fans in the bench area to sit during the show and prohibiting smoking during performances. Come on, Fair brass—these should be common sense ways to make a crowded, often-uncomfortable venue more enjoyable.

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