Spending three days at the N.Y. State Fair gave me a chance to do something that I don’t always have time to when I travel, talk to the people I meet. I was able to spend time getting to know the people that work at and visit the fair. Here are a few of their stories.
Julia is a twelve year old young lady who I met when I wandered in to the goat barn. She was working hard, grooming a goat to be shown later that day. When I asked, she explained that she was doing a favor for a friend, and she had already shown her goat. I found that kind of helpfulness throughout the fair. Yes there were competitions, but they were friendly, and everyone lent a hand when needed. Julie explained that she had been coming to the fair for thirteen years, that is, even before she was born.
Bruce has been a farmer in New York for most of his adult life, as he told me, he even married the farmer’s daughter. However, he only been raising and showing Highland cattle for the past 14 years. He said that when he and his wife traveled to Scotland they fell in love with this breed. He started showing junior Highlands in his local fair and then began coming to the State Fair. He told me that one of the things he really enjoys is spending time with other breeders.
Virginia is a 4H horse leader from Orange County NY. She has been bringing students up to the fair for over 20 years. She really enjoys working with young people and teaching them the skills of both showing and judging horses and riders. She has come to fair as a judge of equine events, and also to work in area of Hippology – an activity in which 4H members can demonstrate their knowledge of equine science and husbandry in a competitive setting – think College Bowl for horses.
Helen works during the fair as a guide on the free trams that carry people around the outer edge of the fair grounds. During the rest of the year she works as a teacher’s assistant in a nearby school district, but for these twelve days she becomes a font of information for everyone from first time visitors to fair veterans. She can explain the fastest way to get from one place to another, tell you the best places for food or just give you some of the history of the fair grounds.
Mike runs the antique tractor exhibit. This is a collection of tractors that are lent to the fair every year by their owners. They range from the early 20th century to the 1980’s. Mike has done this volunteer job for the last 9 years, working with a team of 12-15 people. Every year people lend their tractors in return for passes to the fair and parking permits.
In 1999 Lorraine, a teacher at the time, attended a soap making demonstration at the N.Y. State Fair. This started her on a journey of first learning how to make soap, then creating a business, and finally taking over the demonstrations herself in 2004. Today she gives the demonstrations with a mix of history and science that brings to life the process back in the day, and also how anyone could make soap today.
One reason that I enjoy traveling is getting to meet people who have had different experiences that I have had. I don't always have the time to sit and talk with them. This time I did, and I really learned a lot by doing so.