Monday, September 19, 2016

the great new york state fair.

Every year, there are a bunch of festivals and fairs in our area. I love going to them and seeing the different vendors, finding new treasures, and most importantly - the food! Fair food is always so delicious, probably because it's so bad for you! Unfortunately, we didn't get to as many fairs this year as I would have liked because of our vacation and not wanting to leave Trixie alone so soon after getting her.

One of the great fairs near us is the New York State Fair. It's a huge annual fair made up of 375 acres complete with a Restaurant Row, hundreds of vendors, animal barns with loads of farm animals, a separate kids section, a petting zoo, and a midway with rides. It attracts big name entertainment acts, as well. Two weekends ago, Chris & I decided to take a trip up to the fair, since Labor Day was the last day it would be there. I have been suffering from a delightful chest cold for the past few weeks, but on that Sunday, I finally felt well enough to go to the fair.

After seeing the news reports the previous day about there being a record number of people visiting and the traffic being horrible in the early afternoon, we decided to get there around 4 PM. I also hoped that would help us to avoid the crowds and beat some of the heat, and it seemed to work pretty well for us. On the highway going up, we got stuck in traffic for about 45 minutes and ended up having to turn around and drive the wrong way down the shoulder of the highway due to a terrible traffic accident at the exit we needed to get off on, but the police were very gracious about guiding people off the highway and pointing them in the direction. Even with that diversion, we ended up getting to the fair at just about four. Although it was still hot, it wasn't unbearable and until the Chris Daughtry concert started at 8, the crowds weren't that bad, either.

Our first stop was the cattle barn, which was a series of huge barns with all sorts of cows. There were different showings throughout the fair but they were done for the day (as they were with all the animals). The ones who won ribbons had them displayed, however, and it was fun to see which cows won prizes and for what. I don't know much about the variety of species but I liked seeing the different colors - brown and white, black and white, all brown, light grey, light brown, etc. So many different kinds! I am clearly not a cow connoisseur.

These cows came from our city, and they were very pretty. They only had one baby cow that I saw, when in previous years they had several in a section of their own. I was kind of disappointed because who doesn't love seeing baby cows?

Our next stop was the Dairy Building. They had a Byrne Dairy counter where they had any dessert you could imagine - all flavors of ice cream plus brownie sundaes, apple dumpling sundaes, milkshakes, fried cheesecake, everything! I got soft serve pumpkin ice cream and it was the most amazing pumpkin ice cream I have ever had. It was so creamy but also had little chunks of pumpkin in it. It was so delicious! Chris got the apple dumpling sundae and he said it was also quite delectable. They had a butter sculpture depicting a few of the sports from this years Rio Olympics that rotated in a glass display. I couldn't get a picture of it because of the reflection of people in the glass, but it was very impressive!

Next were the sheep, goat, and llama barns. We didn't see any llamas for some reason, and only a couple goats, but they had an abundance of sheep! I love sheep - they are so adorable and fluffy. In the photo above, the middle sheep made me laugh a lot. All the other sheep were bleating in their high-pitched bleats (as you can see from the one on the left), and the middle one had the "smoker's sheep" bleat - it was so low-pitched and raspy you could barely hear it! It was hilarious and I couldn't stop laughing.

I love that even when they're just sitting around, sheep look so elegant.

Lots of sheep had been sheared for a wool and yarn-making display, and a few of them had these hoods on. They were quite creepy looking, but I am assuming they were to keep them warm.

There was an exotic animal petting zoo near the sheep barns that had a camel, wallaby, lemurs, a zebra, parrots, and other animals. The highlight for me was this miniature donkey named Tinkerbell. I love donkeys and there are some down the road from my house that I always look at, wishing I could pet them and see them up close. So, getting to pet this little donkey was very exciting for me! She was rough but soft at the same time and very sweet. They had feed and carrots you could buy to give her, and she was very polite when taking them.

Between walking to the different animal barns and trying food out, there were a whole bunch of different displays, vendor and otherwise. There were displays about wildlife conservation and becoming a wildlife conservation officer, how to make yarn from sheep's wool, an aquatic display with stingrays, a barn with a few ponies and information about how to raise horses properly, car displays, pavilions with different foods from around New York State and the people that made them. There were also tons of vendors with goods for sale, ranging from tie dyed t-shirts to hand-carved wooden Buddha statues, handmade leather goods, sports memorabilia, motorcycles, military collectibles, walking sticks - basically anything you could imagine, you could find it at the fair!

One of my favorite foods of the day was this gorgeous creation: the Pig Parfait. In a clear Solo cup, it was layers of barbecue sauce, pulled pork, and mashed potatoes, topped with crumbled bacon, a cherry tomato and a breadstick. I had to take five Prelief in order to temper my bladder into accepting this without throwing a temper tantrum, but oh man, was it worth it! I ate it the last time I visited the fair and was looking forward to getting it this time around as well and it certainly did not disappoint. 

I always overestimate my body's abilities to make it through events like this and after walking around and eating for about four hours, I was really starting to drag. I started having to take sitting breaks and my will to get up and keep moving was getting smaller and smaller each time. I was making sure to stay hydrated in hopes that it would counteract the bloating and pain in my bladder and gut from the walking and food, but after three bottles of water and one of soda, I went to the bathroom and couldn't pee even one drop. When that happened, I knew I was in big trouble - and that's when I started crashing even harder.

But, there was one barn that I had been waiting all day for. After finally locating it on the map and making our way over (after having to re-route ourselves several times), we made it to the poultry and small animal barn.

Ducks are my favorite animals in the whole world, so the poultry barn is my favorite. There are all sorts of ducks - any kind you can imagine - plus geese, pigeons, chickens, guinea fowl, turkeys, rabbits of all shapes and sizes, and guinea pigs.

This bird was awarded the Best of Show out of all of the birds. I'm not sure exactly what kind of pigeon it is because there was no sign, but isn't it the silliest looking?! It looks like it has a giant cowl scarf around its neck! It was so animated and funny.

I thought this pigeon was absolutely beautiful. Its ruffled, curly feathers look like something out of a fashion magazine and the brown/grey color is quite sophisticated. 

The two chickens above make me smile. They were just two friends, hanging out in a cage together. They came right up to the edge and just stared at me, so personable and friendly.

I'm not sure what type of birds the two below are - they were with the chickens - but there were several cages of them and each were in a different color scheme. They all had long tail feathers and came in absolutely breathtaking colors! I loved them and have never seen something like them before. 

This chicken was my favorite of them all. I love his black and white speckles and how they get more sparse near his tail. He was very petite and vocal, and just seemed like a cool little dude.

This duck brought out all the stops at the fair - he got his fancy hat out to wear! I laughed so hard when I saw these few ducks with the poofs on top of their head. I am not sure what the point of the poofs are, but they certainly make them look funny. Next to these ducks were the guinea fowl and holy cow, are they loud! I haven't ever seen or heard guineas before and they aren't anything remarkable looking, kind of like less feathered brown chickens. A lot of the poultry were for sale directly from the fair and while I was looking at the ducks, a man was removing three guinea into a crate for someone who had purchased them. All the birds started squawking and they were so piercing, I had to cover my ears because it was literally making my ears hurt. Those suckers are loud! 

Next up was visiting the rabbits. I'm not a fan of guinea pigs, but I love rabbits. I used to have two Lionhead rabbits that I had to give up, and I truly miss them. They're adorable little creatures that are wonderful companions. The first ones were the Flemish Giants. It might be hard to tell from the photo but this guy's head alone was larger than my fist.

They had every different species of rabbit but after a while, they all kind of look the same. My favorites are the Rex varieties, though. I had never seen a bunny with such unique markings as this one. He reminded me of a calico cat, but even more unique because he was almost polka dotted! He was silly and kept standing up on his rear legs like a meerkat, looking around in each corner of his cage. Rex rabbits are so velvet-y looking and feeling, and I love their personalities.

They also had baby Rex and Lop-eared rabbits! How absolutely precious are they?! I squealed out loud because oh my cuteness! They were so tiny, they could fit in my hand. So sweet!

After visiting the poultry and rabbits, we decided it would be a good time to leave. I was completely exhausted - when I'm at these types of events, I tend to push myself, thinking I will be fine and can keep up with "normal" people. I should know better that, after over four years, I'm not normal anymore and I get tired and sick much more quickly than I used to and need to watch myself. But I never remember and suddenly crash and just want to be home, right then and there... which obviously isn't possible. So after we left the barn, I really wanted to go. Chris was okay with that because the crowds were picking up and the evening concert (which was Chris Daughtry) had already started, which wasn't something we were interested in. We started making our way out and unfortunately the concert was near the exit, and we had to fight our way out a little bit. After getting out, the way back to our car was uphill. Having heart problems to begin with always makes long, uphill treks difficult, but adding my chest cold into the equation left me wheezing, coughing, and barely able to breathe by the time we made it back to the parking lot. Thankfully the drive home was painless and the dogs were thrilled to see us when we opened the door, which always makes me feel better.

Overall, I am glad that we went. It's a once-in-a-year experience to see the animals and get to experience the diet-busting food for the day. Even though I get very tired and it takes me a couple of days to recover (my legs were killing me the next day!), I would rather go and have the experience than have not gone at all.

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